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Become a Nurse Esthetician: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a nurse esthetician. Research the career requirements, licensure information and experience required for starting a career in nurse esthetics.

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Do I Want to Be a Nurse Esthetician?

Individuals who are employed as nurse estheticians (also called aesthetic nurses) are licensed nurses who perform advanced cosmetic skin care and appearance enhancement procedures, such as Botox treatments and cosmetic filler injections. They may also assist doctors in advising patients about procedures, performing treatments and taking steps to prevent complications. They typically work in medical offices that provide clinical appearance enhancement services. Sometimes they are employed in hospitals, working on the skin or appearance of patients who have suffered some sort of trauma or who have been through a surgery. In those cases, nurse estheticians may often work with the terminally ill. In most respects, these professionals may spend many hours standing to perform their duties.

Job Requirements

Both the cosmetic procedures that nurses are allowed to perform and the training needed to perform them vary by state. Although some states allow licensed practical nurses (LPNs) or licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) to perform advanced cosmetic procedures, employers tend to hire registered nurses (RNs) for aesthetic nurse positions. In addition to a nursing license, procedure-specific training is required for nurse estheticians. The following table gives an overview of the requirements to become a nurse esthetician.

Common Requirements
Degree Level LPNs/LVNs usually earn a certificate; RNs need at least a diploma, but associate's and bachelor's degrees are also common*
Degree Field Nursing*
Licensure/Certification State nursing licensure is essential* and lifesaving certification may be required;** certification is available for some specific procedures, but it is not always needed***
Experience Varies - entry-level jobs exist, but some employers prefer 3 or more years of experience in a related role**
Key Skills Strong listening and interpersonal skills, empathy and sound judgment*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **job postings by employers (August 2012), ***various state nursing and health boards.

Step 1: Complete Nurse Training

The first step to working in this field is to acquire general training in nursing through an LPN/LVN or RN program. LPNs/LVNs usually need to complete a yearlong certificate program that includes both classroom study and hands-on practical training. Aspiring RNs may choose from diploma, associate's or bachelor's degree programs. Diploma and associate's degree programs usually take 2 or 3 years, while Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree programs typically take 4 years to finish.

Step 2: Pass the National Licensure Exam

To become a licensed nurse, it's necessary to pass a national licensure exam after completing nursing school. LPNs/LVNs must take the NCLEX-PN, and RNs need to pass the NCLEX-RN. In order to register and take the test, state nursing board authorization is typically required.

Step 3: Obtain Licensure

State health or nursing boards are usually responsible for regulating the licensing of nurses. After completing accredited training programs and passing the national licensure exam, aspiring nurses may apply for state licensure. Additional requirements vary by state, and may include a background check. States do not offer licenses specifically for nurse estheticians.

Step 4: Gain Esthetics-specific Training

Generally, only medical professionals, such as nurses and doctors, may perform complex and invasive skin care and appearance enhancement procedures. Medical professionals who want to perform these treatments usually need to obtain continuing education in the form of procedure-specific training. This training is generally available from product manufacturers and medical esthetics institutes. Training programs may offer certification in certain procedures, but most states do not require treatment-specific certification or licensing.

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