How to Become a Master Esthetician

Esthetics, also spelled aesthetics, is a field of cosmetology that focuses on improving the look and appearance of the skin. Master estheticians receive additional training in esthetics past the basic level, which allows them to perform a wider range of services than standard estheticians. As a result of receiving master esthetician training, you may be a more desirable candidate for higher-paying skin care jobs, such as those in medical offices. While they are not medical professionals, master estheticians may work alongside health care professionals to provide chemical peels, laser hair removal, microdermabrasion, tattoo removal, treatment after plastic surgery, and more. While this advanced license has many benefits it is not offered in every state.

Steps to Becoming Master Esthetician?

A master esthetician is a skin care specialist who has completed several hundred additional training hours in a variety of topics related to esthetics. While the exact courses will vary by program, you are likely to take courses focused on medical esthetics, how hormones impact the skin, laser usage, light energy, lymphatic drainage, and pre- and post-operative esthetic skin care.

Keep in mind that only a few states, including Washington, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and D.C., offer master esthetician licenses. These are referred to as “two-tier states,” since they have two tiers of esthetician licensure. Before investing in a master esthetician training program, ensure the program meets the requirements for licensure in the state where you wish to practice.  

Master Esthetician vs. Esthetician vs. Medical Esthetician

Depending on the state you live in, several different esthetician licenses may be available, including esthetician and master esthetician. Because each state has its own laws and license requirements, this can be very confusing. According to Kim Burgett, former cosmetologist and director of Capri Cosmetology College, two-tier states offer master esthetician licensing options. States with one tier offer other ways for a licensed esthetician to offer advanced services, usually in the form of training programs in specific treatments such as microdermabrasion or intense pulsed light (IPL).

In general, however, an esthetician license is the lowest level of license and allows you to practice in a spa, nail salon, or similar environment. A medical or master esthetician often receives additional training in more advanced skin care techniques.

The table below breaks down the most significant differences between an esthetician and master esthetician license.

Esthetician Master Esthetician
Treatments Licensed For Facials, facial massage, makeup, makeup removal Laser treatments, chemical peels, non-ablation tattoo removal
Average Training Hours Required 600 hours of training 600 additional hours of training
Average Salary* $31,310 $45,000

*Salaries from payscale.com, 2020

Top Careers for Advanced and Master Estheticians

The advanced training you receive to become a master esthetician may open more job opportunities. Most estheticians, for example, tend to work in salons or spas where they provide basic skin care treatments such as facials and makeup application.

While becoming a master esthetician may open up additional or higher paying jobs, all estheticians may be able to work in the following places based on their state's laws:

  • Health and personal care stores
  • Plastic surgeon’s office
  • Dermatologist’s office
  • Medical spas
  • Tattoo removal office
  • Cruise ships
  • Resorts

Advanced Esthetics Training

According to Burgett, standard esthetic training courses cover basic procedures such as skin disorders, anatomy of the skin and skin structures, basic skin care techniques, lash extensions, makeup application, and body treatments. As a master esthetician, however, you will receive additional training in more advanced beauty and skin care techniques along with advanced body treatments.

In Washington state, for example, master estheticians take courses in the following areas:

  • Light, laser, energy, and radio frequency therapies
  • Skin sciences
  • Skin disorders
  • Medical charting
  • Health care laws, such as the privacy rules included in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • Plastic surgery procedures
  • Pre- and post-op medical treatments
  • Advanced chemical peeling techniques

Benefits of Advanced Esthetics Training

You can only become a licensed master esthetician in a handful of states, but there are benefits to taking advanced esthetician training in other states.

Advanced courses may count toward required additional training to maintain your license and may allow you to pursue employment as a manager or at higher-paying spas or medical facilities.

How to Become a Master Esthetician

There are two main paths you can take to become a licensed master esthetician. If you are already a licensed esthetician, you may take additional courses to meet the extra requirements.

If you don’t have a background in the field, some schools offer stand-alone master esthetician programs, which cover the requirements for both esthetician and master esthetician licensure.

To obtain a master esthetician license after obtaining a standard esthetician license, you must:

  1. Complete the required coursework in your state
  2. Complete the additional apprenticeship hours as required by the state where you wish to practice
  3. Take the written test to become a master esthetician
  4. Take the practical (hands-on) test to become a master esthetician
  5. Apply and pay for your master esthetician’s license

To become a master esthetician without previous training, you must:

  1. Complete the coursework for both an esthetician and master esthetician
  2. Complete the total required apprenticeship hours for a master esthetician
  3. Take the combined master esthetician written test
  4. Take the combined master esthetician practical test
  5. Apply and pay for your master esthetician’s license in the state where you wish to practice

Each state has specific requirements you must meet to become a master esthetician, so it’s important to pursue education in the state where you plan to work. A few states do have reciprocal license agreements, but we strongly recommend researching the requirements before taking courses in another state.

Master Esthetician Salary

The salary of a master esthetician tends to be on the higher end of the overall average for skin care professionals. According to ZipRecruiter, the national average salary for master estheticians in 2020 is $42,291. The national salary for estheticians is $36,683.

Job growth is expected to grow 11% for all estheticians between 2018-2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This figure includes all levels of esthetician. Job growth for all professions in the U.S. is expanded to expand by 5.2%, so esthetics is growing much faster than average.

Licensing Requirements for Medical Estheticians

If you are considering pursuing a master esthetician license, the table below explains what you can expect in each of the states where this license is available.  

Note that Oregon offers an advanced esthetician course that focuses mostly on laser-based treatments, while other states require a broader range of training courses.

State Licensing Requirements for Master Estheticians

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Washington

Requirements to become an esthetician

You must complete 750 hours of training and pass Cosmetologist Practical Exam and Written Exam.

Additional requirements to become an advanced esthetician

You must complete an additional 450 hours of training and pass Combined Esthetician Practical Exam and Written Exam.

Curriculum requirements include laser training and chemical peels.

The average salary for advanced estheticians in Washington is $42,063.

For more information, visit your state board at Washington State Department of Licensing.

Requirements to become an esthetician

You must complete 750 hours of training and pass Practical Written Exam.

Additional requirements to become an advanced esthetician

You must complete an additional 40 hours of education and 24 hours of practical experience or 500 hours of apprenticeship under health care professional and pass Oregon Written Examination for Advanced Aestheticians.

Curriculum requirements include 20 hours of training on Oregon laws and rule and 20 hours of training in career development. Advanced esthetician training includes training on the use of lasers, microneedling, and non-ablative tattoo removal.

The average salary for advanced estheticians in Oregon is $39,879.

For more information, visit your state board at Oregon State Board of Licensing Information.

Requirements to become an esthetician

You must complete 600 hours of training or 800 hours of apprenticeship and pass NIC Practical and Written Esthetics Examination.

Additional requirements to become an advanced esthetician

You must complete an additional 1,500 apprenticeship hours and pass NIC National Advanced Practice Esthetics Practical and Written Exam.

Curriculum requirements include sanitation and sterilization.

The average salary for advanced estheticians in Utah is $39,902.

For more information, visit your state board at Utah Department of Commerce Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing.

Requirements to become an esthetician

You must complete 600 hours of training and pass NIC Written and Practical Exam.

Additional requirements to become an advanced esthetician

You must complete an additional 600 hours of training and pass NIC State of Virginia Master Esthetics Examination and Practical Exam.

Curriculum requirements include Virginia laws and regulations, safety and sanitation, blood clean up, anatomy, physiology, esthetic service.

The average salary for advanced estheticians in Virginia is $41,414.

For more information, visit your state board at Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation.

Requirements to become an esthetician

You must complete 600 hours of training and pass NIC Written and Practical Exams.

Additional requirements to become an advanced esthetician

You must complete an additional 600 hours of training and pass Master Esthetician Written and Practical Exams.

Curriculum requirements include chemical peels, surgical procedures, microdermabrasion, advanced anatomy, lymphatic drainage, state laws, and regulations.

The average salary for advanced estheticians in District of Columbia is $44,598.

For more information, visit your state board at District of Columbia Board of Barber and Cosmetology.

All salary information from ZipRecruiter

Esthetics/Skin Care