What is an Esthetician

Estheticians (also called Licensed Esthetician, Medical Esthetician, Skin Care Technician, Skincare Specialists, Electrolysist, and Facialist) are licensed professionals who help to cleanse and rejuvenate the face and body, with the aim of enhancing a person’s appearance. They are experts in maintaining and improving healthy skin, using treatments such as hair removal, facial massage, exfoliation, eyelash and eyebrow tinting, and makeup application. They may also use various machines in their work. For more info on job duties, please visit our esthetician job description page.

Work Environment

Esthetician are often found in a spa, salon, or cosmetology setting, working for a business that sells makeup and other beautification products. However, estheticians can also be employed in a medical setting, working in a dermatologist’s office to aid with various mild dermatological issues that are mainly cosmetic in nature. These can include mild acne, aging skin, and pigmentation issues.

The work environment will be well-lit, as good lighting is necessary for the esthetician’s work. Estheticians will also often spend many hours of the day on their feet, working to beautify their clients.

Work Schedule

Many estheticians work full time, at forty hours per week. Often, however, these hours are during evenings and weekends. Those working in medical offices can expect more regular business hours, however those working in a salon, and particularly those who run their own salon, will tend toward hours outside of the standard 9-5.

Mean Annual Esthetician Salary

The average esthetician makes $31,720. Lowest 10% of this occupation makes less than $17,460 and the top 10% makes over $51,900.

Esthetician Salary: Quick Summary

2012 Mean Salary$31,720 per year
$15.25 per hour
Top 10% Salary$51,900 per year
$24.95 per hour
Bottom 10% Salary$17,460 per year
$8.39 per hour
Number of Jobs, 201231,810

Job Outlook

Estheticians are expected to have job prospects that far outpace the average for all occupations; the Bureau of Labor and Statistics is expecting a 40% job growth rate between 2012 and 2022. This is expected in part due to the aging population, as many women attempt to reverse the aging process. As well, estheticians services are increasingly being adopted by men; as the stigma against men attending spas and salons wanes, the demand for estheticians’ services is expected to jump exponentially.

Esthetician Salary: Factors of Influence

Salary of an esthetician is influenced by many factors, including the experience of the worker, their education, and their geographic location. As well, the industry worked can heavily influence annual wages, by nearly $15,000. Because of these factors, their annual income can range from $17,460 to $51,900. On average, esthetician make $31,720.

Education and Specialization 

Estheticians will generally require completion of a state-approved cosmetology or esthetician program, as well as passing a state exam for licensure; Connecticut is the only exception to this. Often, estheticians will also receive training on the job, especially in the use of chemicals. However, more advanced education will bring higher salaries, as it means working with more advanced techniques, and thus a greater ability to work in more challenging positions, such as in a medical office.

While the standard training will lead to a job more quickly, higher education levels can bring a more desirable knowledge base. The ability to work with machine-based treatments such as microdermabrasion, cosmetic electrotherapy, and ultrasonic and mechanical massage will make the esthetician an invaluable member of a team, and bring related salary increases.

Experience and Position 

Experience is always a factor in salary consideration. This is especially true for the esthetician who runs his or her own salon; more experience will lead to greater skill with clients, who will then both return for further treatment, and recommend new clients.

Esthetician position is also important to consider; with more knowledge and experience, an esthetician can rise to a managerial position in a salon or spa, thus earning a high salary.


With the varying aspects of esthetician career come varying industries in which they can work. Working in personal care services will earn salaries around $29,950. However, medical estheticians earn more than most others, with those working in physicians’ offices earning $39,420; those in general or surgical hospitals earning $40,500; and at the top of the ladder are estheticians in outpatient care centers, who have an average annual wage of $42,680.


Where an esthetician works brings a large variance in potential salaries; with a spectrum spanning $19,920 to $47,170 at the state level. District of Columbia and Oregon are near the top of the pay scale, at $41,160 and $42,180, respectively. However, Alaska has the highest wages at the state level, at $47,170.

Looking more closely, though, at the metropolitan level, Albuquerque, NM and Jefferson City, MO are in the third and second spots, at $52,330 and $53,400, respectively. But for the best wages, Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT wins the prize, coming in at $54,020.

Esthetician Salary: Top 5

Top Paying Metropolitan AreasTop Paying StatesTop Paying IndustriesStates with Highest Employment Level
Bridgeport, CT: $54,020Alaska: $47,170Outpatient Care Centers: $42,680California: (4,370 jobs) $34,600
Jefferson City, MO: $53,400Oregon: $42,180General and Surgical Hospitals: $40,500Texas: (2,670 jobs) $32,650
Albuquerque, NM: $52,330District of Columbia: $41,160Offices of Physicians: $39,420Florida: (2,450 jobs) $29,650
Oakland, CA: $48,670New Hampshire: $40,410Department Stores: $37,180New York: (2,310 jobs) $34,170
Pittsfield, MA: $44,630Arkansas: $39,560Drug Wholesalers: $34,500Massachusetts: (1,810 jobs) $36,170

esthetician salary state by state