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Detailed Guide for

Skin Care Specialists in California

May also be called: Aestheticians; Estheticians; Facialists; Medical Estheticians; Nurse Estheticians; Skin Care Technicians; Spa Technicians

What Would I Do?

Skin Care Specialists, more commonly known as Estheticians, clean and beautify the skin by giving facials, full-body treatments, and head and neck massages as well as by applying makeup. They cleanse the skin with astringents or cleansers. Estheticians remove hair through waxing, electrolysis, or if properly trained, with laser treatments. They also select and apply facial products, such as creams and moisturizers. Estheticians work with clients to determine the best products or colors that will improve the clients’ skin quality and appearance. They may also instruct clients in makeup application techniques.

Estheticians perform a variety of job duties, such as keeping records of their clients' skin care regimens, keeping the work area clean and sanitary, and sterilizing equipment. Other duties may include greeting customers, setting up appointments, selling products, using the cash register, and doing laundry.

Estheticians who own their own businesses have managerial duties in addition to taking care of their clients. They hire and supervise employees, keep business and inventory records, and order supplies. Estheticians also work on different types of advertising to promote their business.

Estheticians who work in retail establishments, such as beauty supply or department stores, set up product displays that promote merchandise. They also work with customers to help them decide on the type of skin care treatments and makeup products that are best suited for their complexion. However, their main goal as Estheticians is to sell skin care products.

Estheticians also work in the medical field in pre- and postoperative skin care. Under the guidance of a licensed health care provider, they provide treatments that prepare the skin for surgery for a more comfortable healing process. They show patients how to conceal redness and bruising with corrective makeup while skin is healing. Medical Estheticians help burn victims learn to apply makeup. They help cancer patients care for sensitive skin after chemotherapy and radiation treatments. They assist patients suffering from skin or hair diseases with exfoliation or restorative procedures.

Tools and Technology

Estheticians use a variety of tools and products in the course of their work, including cotton pads, exfoliators, facial steamers, lotions, magnifying lamps, microdermabrasion machines, skin cleansers, warm towels, and waxes.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

TaskSkill Used in this Task
Demonstrate how to clean and care for skin properly and recommend skin-care regimens.Customer and Personal Service
Keep records of client needs and preferences and the services provided.Written Expression
Examine clients' skin, using magnifying lamps or visors when necessary, to evaluate skin condition and appearance.Near Vision
Treat the facial skin to maintain and improve its appearance, using specialized techniques and products, such as peels and masks.Deductive Reasoning
Refer clients to medical personnel for treatment of serious skin problems.Judgment and Decision Making
Remove body and facial hair by applying wax.Service Orientation
Apply chemical peels to reduce fine lines and age spots.Arm-Hand Steadiness
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET) at online.onetcenter.org

Working Conditions

Estheticians work in various settings, such as salons, spas, hotels, resorts, or medical offices. Regardless of the setting, they work indoors in clean surroundings with good lighting and ventilation. Estheticians need to have stamina, because they are on their feet for most of the day. They should be able to lift, push, and pull boxes of up to ten pounds. Estheticians who work in hair salons may be exposed to fumes from hair and nail chemicals and should take proper precautions. Some Estheticians may wear lab coats and gloves while working. Most Estheticians work 40 hours a week; however, working longer hours, nights, weekends, and holidays are common.

Estheticians are not usually members of a union, but those who work for hotels or resorts may belong to a union.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Esthetician may appeal to those who are interested in starting up and carrying out projects. This occupation may also interest those who enjoy activities that involve practical, hands-on problems and solutions. The ability to be both pleasant and professional is also an essential part of being an Esthetician.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?


The median wage in 2021 for Skin Care Specialists in California is $37,706 annually, or $18.13 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Annual Wages for 2021Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2021 at www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/data/wages.html Wages do not reflect self-employment.

Hourly Wages for 2021Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2021 at www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/data/wages.html. Wages do not reflect self-employment.


Estheticians may receive benefits that include health insurance and vacation. Self-employed Estheticians are responsible for providing their own benefits.

What is the Job Outlook?

As more individuals seek to improve their appearance by focusing their attention on healthier-looking skin, it is expected that there would be increased opportunities for Estheticians. However, during economic downturns, the number of job openings may decline.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Skin Care Specialists is expected to grow at an average rate compared with the total for all occupations. Jobs for Skin Care Specialists are expected to increase by 8.5 percent, or 1,000 jobs between 2018 and 2028.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Skin Care Specialists
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation at www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/data/employment-projections.html

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

A formal training program in skin care or cosmetology is the typical educational path for Estheticians. The length of time required to complete this program is about two years. Formal training includes classroom study, instructor demonstrations, and practical work. Students study basic skin care services, such as facials, massages, and chemical peels. They also have hands-on training by practicing on volunteers or paying customers.

Early Career Planning

High school students interested in becoming Estheticians should take courses in business, English, health, mathematics, and science.

Training programs for Estheticians are also available through Regional Occupational Programs (ROP). To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site at www.carocp.org/carocps.html.

Apprenticeship Programs

Apprentices learn their trade while working on the job. Many Estheticians enter into a formal cosmetology apprenticeship program. Applicants are required to be at least 16 years old and have completed the tenth grade. The program length is 3,200 hours. Additional requirements include a written test and oral exam to complete the apprenticeship program.  For more information on apprenticeship programs currently available visit the State of California's Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Apprenticeship Standards Web site at www.dir.ca.gov/databases/das/aigstart.asp.

Continuing Education

While continuing education is not required for Estheticians, they will need to keep current on new techniques and improved products for skin care.

Licensing and Certification

Estheticians must be licensed to perform their duties. To become licensed, Estheticians must pass an examination given by the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology. Applicants must be at least 17 years old, have completed the 10th grade or equivalent, and have not committed any crimes. In addition, the applicant needs to have completed a 600-hour course in technical instruction and practical training covering all practices of skin care from a school approved by the Board or a 3,200-hour apprenticeship program. The license must be renewed every two years. Contact the agency that issues the license for additional information. Click on the license title below for details.

Some Estheticians may receive certificates in skin care from community colleges or vocational schools to meet the State’s licensing requirements. These programs include classroom based and practical training in topics such as skin analysis, facial treatments, and basic massage. Certificate programs are one to two years in length. See individual schools for further information. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site at www.acinet.org and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" at www.acinet.org/certifications_new/default.aspx and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information at www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/resources/training-and-apprenticeships.html

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

Where Would I Work?

The largest industries employing Skin Care Specialists are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Personal Care Services44.0%
Health and Personal Care Stores8.8%
Other Amusement & Recreation Industries1.4%
Outpatient Care Centers1.0%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns at www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/data/employment-projections.html

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers is one of the most effective job search methods. Beauty schools are another means of finding a job. Newspaper classified ads and Internet job listings also provide helpful job leads. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Skin Care Specialists.

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, use "Find Employers" on the LaborMarketInfo Web site at http://www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/aspdotnet/databrowsing/empMain.aspx?menuChoice=emp

Where Could This Job Lead?

As Estheticians gain knowledge and experience, they may manage a salon or open their own business. They also may become trainers, demonstrators, or sales representatives for skin care products. Some Skin Care Specialists pursue a career as a licensed instructor at a beauty college. Others may become makeup artists for movies, television, and theatres.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Skin Care Specialists.

Other Sources

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SOC - Standard Occupational Classification at www.bls.gov/soc/39-5094
O*NET - Occupational Information Network at online.onetcenter.org/
   Skincare Specialists39-5094.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC) at online.onetcenter.org/find/descriptor/browse/Interests/#curERS
CIP - Classification of Instructional Programs at nces.ed.gov/pubs2002/cip2000/
   Cosmetology/Cosmetologist, General 120401
TOP - Taxonomy of Programs at www.ccccurriculum.info/ (California Community Colleges)
   Cosmetology and Barbering300700

The California Occupational Guides are a product of:
The California Employment Development Department
Labor Market Information Division

Printed on Monday, November 29, 2021