Skin care specialist salary & career outlook

Skin care specialists (sometimes called estheticians) are dedicated to the care and maintenance of healthy skin. Most skin care specialists work in salons, spas, or other health and beauty centers, but some may work instead as medical estheticians at health care offices or hospitals. The variety of professional settings available to those who graduate from relevant training programs each come with their own challenges and advantages, but a little research can help you find the one that's right for you.

Employment outlook and job prospects for skin care specialists

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects significant growth in employment opportunities for skin care specialists, projecting a 40 percent increase nationwide in positions between 2012 and 2022. Approximately 17,700 new jobs should be added to the market during this period. An increase in the number of beauty salons and spas is cited among drivers of growth in the field, along with an increasing demand for skin care services among men.

BLS data indicates that 44,400 skin care specialists were employed nationwide in 2012. Texas was reported as employing the highest number of skin care specialists that year, followed by California, Florida, New York and Massachusetts.

Salary ranges for skin care specialists

Skin care specialist salary is affected by a number of factors. Professionals with extensive job experience may have different salary expectations than those just starting out, for example, and some industries tend to pay more than others. The bottom 10 percent of earners in the skin care field in the U.S. made less than $17,480 in 2013, while the top 10 percent took home more than $56,930. General medical and surgical hospitals paid skin care specialists a mean salary of $47,430 in 2013, more than any other industry that year.

Here's a list of the five highest-paying areas for skin care specialists in 2013 and the mean annual wages earned there, as reported by the BLS:

  • New Hampshire: $42,300
  • Washington, D.C.: $39,820
  • Arkansas: $39,250
  • Massachusetts: $39,010
  • Virginia: $37,370

The highest-paying metro area for skin care specialists in 2013 was Albuquerque, New Mexico, which reported a mean annual salary of $57,330.

Skin care specialist training

Skin care specialist schools offer comprehensive training for estheticians. Your precise schedule of coursework depends on the institution, but many programs include courses that cover the following skills:

  • Facials
  • Waxing and body treatments
  • Eyebrow tints
  • Peels
  • Blackhead removals

Most basic skin care specialist or esthetician training programs take around 300 classroom hours to complete. Continued education programs may also be available at some institutions, helping graduates and professionals gain a broader knowledge of available techniques and a deeper understanding of the fundamental concepts of the field.

Skin care specialists who keep their training current by attending workshops, seminars, conferences and post-licensing training programs may improve their access to higher-paying jobs. Advanced programs are typically available in additional 300 hour increments, but programs may vary from institution to institution.

Most states require skin care specialists to hold basic licenses in order to practice. As you evaluate programs at skin care specialist schools, be sure to contact your state's board of licensing to ensure you take the right courses. The Associated Skin Care Professionals organization, which is the nation's largest group dedicated to estheticians, has a state regulations guide and board information on its website. With experience and additional training, you can earn advanced or master qualifications and add highly technical or complex procedures to your repertoire.


"Become a Skin Care Professional," Associated Skin Care Professionals,

Continuing Education, Catherine Hinds Institute of Esthetics,

Skincare Specialists, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,

Skincare Specialists, "Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Jan. 8, 2014,