Laser treatments can correct unwanted hair, mild acne scars, patches of skin discoloration and even fine lines and wrinkles. The person behind the laser is a laser esthetician. Also known as laser technicians, these skincare specialists usually enter the field with a postsecondary degree from a vocational school. They also must pass a state licensing exam as well as participate in continuing education courses to stay current on new technologies and advances in skincare.
In 2012, skincare specialists earned an average of $31,720 a year, or $15.25 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of the top 10 percent, salaries exceeded $51,900 a year, or more than $24.95 an hour. The bottom 10 percent didn’t fare as well, earning less than $17,460 annually, or $8.39 hourly. The jobsite Indeed provides a slightly higher figure than that of the average skincare specialist, estimating salaries for laser techs at $36,000 a year. The National Laser Institute, on the other hand, places wages at anywhere between $12 and $25 an hour.
According to the National Laser Institute, many laser technicians earn a commission in addition to their hourly rates. In general, commissions range from 10 to 25 percent of the cost of a procedure. With the average laser hair removal costing $150 for an hour's session, techs have the potential of earning an additional $15 to $37.50 an hour. The cost of IPL, or intense pulsed light, photofacials averages about $350 for an hour's session, so the commission rate on this treatment is $35 to $87.50 an hour. If a tech is able to book five laser hair removals a day, commissions work out to $375 to $937 for a five-day workweek.
As with almost any occupation, earnings can vary by location. Of the states, some of the highest salaries for laser estheticians were in New York, where the average pay was $44,000 a year. Those working in New York City made out even better, averaging $47,000 annually. Laser techs in Massachusetts also fared better than most, earning $43,000, while those in California earned $39,000. The same, however, didn't hold for laser techs in South Dakota, where the average was just $27,000 a year.
The BLS expects employment for skincare specialists to grow by as much as 25 percent through 2020 -- almost double the national average for all U.S. occupations, an estimated growth of 14 percent. In this relatively small field, the 25-percent growth rate works out to the creation of nearly 12,000 new jobs over the course of a decade. Expect additional opportunities to develop as skincare specialists retire or leave the field.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook – Skincare Specialists
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Skincare Specialists
- Indeed: Esthetician or Esthetician Laser Technician Salary
- National Laser Institute: How Much Money Can I Make as a Laser Technician?
- Indeed: Esthetician or Esthetician Laser Technician Salary in New York
- Indeed: Esthetician or Esthetician Laser Technician Salary in New York, NY
- Indeed: Esthetician or Esthetician Laser Technician Salary in Massachusetts
- Indeed: Esthetician or Esthetician Laser Technician Salary in California
- Indeed: Esthetician or Esthetician Laser Technician Salary in South Dakota
Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.