September 2008

Lisa Kind - Editor

Esthetic Endeavors | by Judith Culp


Sharing Our Career

It’s a great time to be an esthetician.

The demand for well-trained estheticians is steadily growing and the diversity of job choices keeps increasing. Increasing too is the number of people considering our profession.

We as licensed estheticians are the best reference those considering the career could have. Our experience goes a long way when we guide candidates toward their successful entry into the field.

What can we share that will help them most? We can talk about the types of jobs out there, the types of schools out there and the need to stay excited about continuing education. Most of all, it is our own joy for what we are doing that attracts other people.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a job they love to do and for which they have a passion. Helping people solve skincare concerns and improving their appearance can add to their self-esteem and quality of life. Being paid for it is just as sweet. Most estheticians also have a passion for learning, which is important in a field that is continually changing.

The diversity of job opportunities seems to be expanding in every direction for estheticians. Classically, we worked in salons or day spas—with only a few finding their way into the medical or resort spa arena. Now, more and more physicians are adding esthetic services. In the past, estheticians were only found in the offices of plastic surgeons. These days, dermatologists, gynecologists and even dentists are seeing the value of adding esthetic services. As the insurance crunch continues, medical professionals are looking for services where there is no insurance billing or discounting involved. Esthetic services fit right into their parameters.

Let’s not forget the opportunities with large retail cosmetic corporations. They offer lots of education and benefits that may not be found in many other areas of the industry. A person may start out in sales and move into department, regional or even national management, buying or education.

Another interesting twist is embracing both esthetic and makeup artistry skills for the television, movie and fashion industries. With high definition TV, all those skin problems that used to be easily covered with makeup are now plainly visible. More celebrities and aspiring celebrities are seeing a skin care professional to enhance their career opportunities. The makeup artist does more than paint a pretty face; they work to enhance the skin that is the canvas.

As the field of esthetics continues to grow, so grows the demand for those who provide services to estheticians. This means there is an increased need for sales representatives, regional and national manufacturer educators, instructors at the pre- and post-licensing level and much more. While offering these services is fun, writing about it can also be exciting. Trade publications are always looking for new articles or a new twist on a hot topic. As new technologies emerge, the need increases for those who know how to use them to train others in the intricacies of their use.

I find it interesting that we are seeing more people enter the industry who have college degrees in a diversity of fields. Those with backgrounds in marketing or administration have skills they could use in private practice or as industry consultants. With corporations purchasing or setting up spas, there is a need not only for those who know the industry but also those who have strong managerial skills. More choices will continue to emerge for creative thinkers.

It is also helpful to guide future estheticians in their educational choices. There are both convenience-based schools and specialty-based schools for them to consider.

Convenience based schools are those located in most cities. Their philosophy is to provide preparatory education so students can graduate and get their state licenses. Most teach entry-level positions.

Specialty based schools are those that focus on a specific area of training, in our case esthetics. Attending one of these may require relocation while completing the course.

What should a school teach? Each state has different requirements, but the National Coalition of Estheticians, Manufacturers, Distributors and Associations (NCEA) has created both a basic and advanced esthetic task list. On their website they list guidelines for the first 600 hours of esthetic education.

The NCEA has gone on to develop guidelines for a second 600 hour advanced program that should be taken only after the completion of basic training. These are the skills we want to strive for, and then encourage those coming into the industry to seek out.

The advanced level builds on the knowledge gained in basic training, and adds hands on training with advanced modalities. Knowledge of these areas allows us to work safely with these devices and protect both our clients and ourselves.

This level of knowledge will come from advanced specialty training programs or from schools that offer it as a stand-alone program, combo-program or workshops in specific areas of interest. With such advanced level training, job opportunities will only continue to grow.

Judith Culp, a CIDESCO Diplomat has been in the esthetics industry since 1980. A CPCP permanent makeup technician for over 18 years she served a 4-year term as a Director for the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals, two years as their president. She is president of Culp Enterprises Inc. and CEO of NW Institute of Esthetics. Judy Culp is available for consulting. For more information visit


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