March 2013

Lisa Kind - Editor

Esthetic Endeavors | by Judith Culp

Esthetic Professionals Get NCEA Certified

In many professions where there is licensure the individual not only gets a state license, but they take a national exam and receive national certification.

Why? It enhances their earning potential, it shows they are committed to their career and profession, and it demonstrates that they have met a higher set of standards.

As estheticians we don't want to be considered trades people. We want to be viewed and respected as professionals.

In many states we are not required to take continuing education and the level of basic training is minimal. That is not a typical trait of a professional industry. If we really want to achieve status as being accepted as a professional we need to be proactive and take responsibility for our future.

There are some specific things we can do.

Continuing education is the first step. Our industry is growing faster than most. We are in one of the top 10 growth industries in the USA according to the Bureau of Labor and esthetics is expected to continue to grow at this rate at least through 2018. This means the demand for services estheticians offer is going to continue to grow.

But the most popular services are not covered in a basic training program. We need to know this and we need to let those who are considering our industry know it. We need to get a grip on the need to get licensed and then TAKE MORE TRAINING.

While trade shows are super and vendor classes are great we also need non-product specific information. We need the theory and science behind why something works as well as indications, contraindications and protocols.

We need to know enough critical thinking skills to sort through what we are being told and determine what is fact, and what is marketing. We need to expand our business training including the explosion of options for social marketing. When you sit down and create a list of all the areas where continuing education could improve your career, it can get rather staggering. The reality is this: we will need to keep learning throughout our career.

In order to work professionally, knowing our "scope of practice" is a must. We need to go to the website of our governing agency and bookmark it. Most states have their rules and regulations online. This is much faster and accurate than downloading or printing out a hard copy which will quickly become dated.

If a friend asks us about what estheticians can or can't do, all we have to do is email them the link. No guessing, no assumptions. One of our responsibilities as a licensee is to know those rules and follow them. Offering services outside our scope of practice has serious legal and career consequences. Ignorance of the rules and our scope of practice is not an excuse.

The news is clogged with reports on business professionals who behaved in non-ethical and non-professional manners. These activities not only hurt the career of the individual but also can backlash on the whole industry. We avoid problems and work professionally by adhering to the highest standard of ethics and working within our scope of practice.

Via the state website we should also have the ability to learn what our agency and the legislature are doing. This is critical and crucial to protecting our career – and our paychecks. Letting someone else do it is called apathy and it is the main way in which bad laws get passed. I don't enjoy politics any more than most people, but I do love my profession, so I do what I must and keep in touch with what is happening at the state level.

One of the great things about our era of high technology and the internet is the actions of our state boards are much more transparent. In many states we can watch our board in action from the comfort of our home. The minutes of the meetings are generally posted online within 24 hours. It is rather amazing.

Our organization that works to protect our profession nationally is the National Coalition of Estheticians, Manufacturers/Distributors & Associations (NCEA). Their website is To protect your profession and show your professionalism, you need to become a member. You can do that for about the cost of one latte per month. Easy. They use our dues to cover the cost of staff spending their time working with our states to protect our careers.

As a group the members realized that estheticians needed a way to demonstrate, prove, that they had advanced knowledge and could safely work doing advanced procedures beyond the ones learned in beauty school. This resulted in the arduous task of developing a certification program and exam. They created different pathways estheticians could take to become certified. The information regarding certification and how to become certified is on their website

Why become NCEA Certified? Standardization of educational requirements provided within the NCEA Certification Program support mobility of the skin care professional State-to-State and Internationally.

It is NCEA's goal to further define and convey standards of practice by raising the educational requirements of a skin care professional in the United States to a standardized 1200 hours.

The additional need for International recognition of theoretical and practical knowledge of a licensed skin care professional moving outside of the United States also requires validation. NCEA is exploring International recognition for the NCEA Certified Professional and has recently launched in Canada.

Certification shows your dedication to being the best you can be. Receiving your NCEA Certification demonstrates to your clients, peers, and to yourself, that you have met the National Standards set by your professional association.

Certification helps to identify and control risks for the consumer. Voluntary certification promotes your growth and advancement. This further distinguishes you as an example of excellence with the desire to provide the best client care possible.

Certification demonstrates knowledge and comprehension. Completion of the NCEA certification training program shows personal competence by confirming self-study proficiency and knowledge, through the use of study objectives, self-assessments, and knowledge reviews that enhance the learning experience.

Certification better prepares the skincare professional for today's job market. The NCEA certified skincare professional is a leader. The NCEA Certification program provides you with tools to anticipate and respond to changes. With your certification, you will be better equipped to respond to the constantly changing demands and advances within our profession.

Certification can contribute to greater income potential. As an NCEA Certified skincare professional you will be a greater asset to your employer, as you will have an increased sense of pride and self-actualization. If you are self-employed, your accomplishment in achieving this certification validates your commitment towards professional development that can contribute to greater income potential.

Judith Culp has been in the esthetics industry since 1980. She is the owner of NW Institute of Esthetics, Inc. and contributing editor for Miladys Standard Esthetics: Advanced and lead author of Esthetician's Guide to Client Safety & Wellness. For more information visit