Esthetician Apprenticeships: Hands-On Learning for Skin Care Specialists
An esthetician apprenticeship lets you learn on the job from an approved sponsor instead of attending esthetician school for training. Read on to learn about esthetician apprenticeships—including how to become an esthetician apprentice, relevant laws, pros and cons of esthetician apprenticeships, and more.
What Is an Esthetics Apprenticeship?
An esthetics apprenticeship lets future licensed estheticians train in salons or spas. In an esthetics apprenticeship, a sponsor or mentor (sometimes called a "journeyman") covers everything taught in regular esthetics programs but in a real-world hands-on environment.
Not all states offer esthetics apprenticeships, and among the states that do allow them, several require apprentices to take a few traditional classes as part of the training.
Which States Allow Esthetics Apprenticeships?
Currently, 19 states allow esthetician licenses through apprenticeships. Each state sets requirements for curriculum and hours.
States that allow esthetician apprenticeships:
12 months (20 hours/week)
600 hours in six months
This data is accurate as of February 2023.
Some states also allow cosmetology apprenticeships.
If your state doesn't allow apprenticeships, you should enroll in an esthetician school or program instead.
You could consider going to a different state to complete an apprenticeship. However, not all states readily accept licensure reciprocity or transfer from other states, or there may be additional stipulations or uncertainty on the license transfer process. Some even won't accept a license from apprenticeship training without at least a year or so of licensed practice afterward.
How Do I Become an Esthetics Apprentice?
Becoming an esthetics apprentice may involve more legwork than enrolling in a program. Instead of just applying to a school, you need an approved apprenticeship sponsor and apprentice license lined up. Only then can you start learning.
An esthetician sponsor could be an individual, salon, or apprenticeship training program.
Finding an Esthetician Apprenticeship Sponsor
You might find a sponsor through your network, job sites, or state board of esthetics or cosmetology.
Ask local estheticians, cosmetologists, or other beauty professionals you know about potential sponsors. People you trust could help you find a sponsor who matches your needs and personality. Plus, they may put in a good word for you.
But not everyone has friends in the industry. In that case, searching local job boards may be the easiest way to find a sponsor. Sponsors often post apprenticeships online, and you apply for them like any other job. Be sure the employer is state-approved before taking any position.
Beyond local listings, ApprenticeshipUSA, run by the federal government, sometimes has esthetician apprenticeship opportunities listed on its site.
Finally, some state boards keep a list of esthetician apprentice sponsors. These include names, contact information, and more information about the sponsor. After reading some reviews, reach out to those who interest you.
Finding a Good Apprenticeship Sponsor Match
Your gut could be the best indicator of if an apprenticeship sponsor or mentor is a good fit. But you should also read reviews, talk to estheticians, ask questions, and tour the physical space:
Esthetician Apprenticeships vs. Esthetician Programs
Apprenticeships happen in businesses, while esthetician programs are in schools. But, there's more to it than that.
How Esthetics Apprenticeships Approach Written Exam Subjects
Esthetician apprentices typically learn written test topics in classes or off-the-floor mentor training. Mentors should reinforce esthetics written exam topics while you work.
You might need to take some classes in an esthetician school before starting an apprenticeship. Or, sponsors may hold lessons away from clients for a certain number of hours.
How Long Do Esthetics Apprenticeships Take?
Esthetics apprenticeships require more training hours than an esthetics school program. Double the number of hours required by esthetics school is common in many states.
Completing your apprenticeship hours may also take more total time because your sponsor must operate within employment laws, which could restrict the number of hours you can complete in a short amount of time.
Are Esthetics Apprenticeships Paid?
Your sponsor should pay you for your work as an apprentice. Any classroom-style training is typically tuition-free to the apprentice, though this time may not be compensated. While apprentices must earn at least minimum wage, often with potential increases, some states are in legal limbo around this. Whether apprentices can be tipped varies by state and sponsor.
Some larger apprenticeship programs may require an upfront fee. As an apprentice, you may also need to cover your license application and exam fees out of pocket, as well as essentials like your kit.
Pros and Cons of Esthetics Apprenticeships
Pros of Esthetics Apprenticeships
Cons of Esthetics Apprenticeships
Do I Have to Take Exams if I Do an Esthetics Apprenticeship?
Esthetics licensure almost always requires exams. A few states accept sponsor sign-offs on career readiness, but that's rare. Your apprenticeship mentor should prepare you for exams in addition to keeping an eye on your hands-on work.
Esthetician License Transfer Between States When You Train as an Apprentice
States will frequently accept esthetician licenses from other states, especially if the state's required training hours are similar to less than what you earned. This may or may not include apprenticeship training, though. Every state is different, and if you earned your original esthetician license through an apprenticeship, you may need to take some extra steps.
Depending on the state, you might need to:
However, if you only have an apprentice esthetician license, not a full license, and move to a new state, chances are it won't be accepted. You might need to restart your apprenticeship or switch to esthetician school and start over. So, if you plan to move states soon, don't start an apprenticeship yet!
Becoming an Esthetics Apprenticeship Sponsor
Esthetician sponsors need state approval before taking on apprentices. While some national requirements exist, states tend to have more legal hurdles.
Across the U.S. and in every vocational field, apprenticeship sponsors must:
Beyond that, states often establish rules about things like:
The application process and costs vary by state. Check your state's board for more details.