The Starting Salary for an Esthetician

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Although some people naturally have flawless skin, most people have some sort of skin blemishes or condition. These can range from simple dry skin to severe acne or scars. Personal appearance workers who focus on treating the skin and making it look better are estheticians. Like other personal appearance workers, estheticians earn modest salaries that usually are around $15 per hour. Starting estheticians predictably earn less than experienced estheticians in most cases.

Wage and Salary Information

Estheticians in the lowest 10th percentile of earners make only $7.84 per hour, according to 2009 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is less than minimum wage for some states. Translated into a yearly figure, this hourly rate provides about $16,310 per year. Even though these wages are low, earnings are going up in the field. The BLS reports that estheticians enjoyed a 1.7 percent increase in wages from 2008 to 2009.

Employment Sectors

Estheticians have choices in terms of where they can work within the personal appearance industry; they don't work just in spas and salons. Drug wholesale companies pay $35,470 a year. Employers associated with amusement and recreation give estheticians $37,180 a year. If a esthetician works in an office of an "other health professional" like a chiropractor or nutritionist, they earn $37,320. Physicians offices pay $38,020. Estheticians make the most money in medical and surgical hospitals, where pay is $39,910. Hourly pay for these industries thus is between $17.05 and $19.19, which is at least 11 percent better than the industry average.

Geographic Location

Pay for estheticians varies by region. Estheticians who want better initial starting salaries may wish to seek employment in Minnesota, Kansas, California, Colorado or Washington. These states pay at least 15 percent more than other states.


Estheticians may be salaried, commission-based or a combination of both. How an employer decides to pay an esthetician greatly influences how much an esthetician can make, regardless of their experience. Some employers also give extra compensation through profit sharing and bonuses.

Starting estheticians may earn better pay if they are certified, according to the National Coalition of Estheticians, Manufacturers and Distributors & Associations (NCEA). The Skin Science Institute of Laser and Esthetics adds that the exact type of certification an esthetician has also impacts pay. The best certification as of 2011 is NCEA certification. This is the highest certification level available in the U.S.

Personal skills impact esthetician pay. Estheticians who are better organized and who have better social skills may earn more because they are able to convince clients to buy more products that provide commissions, appear more professional and can get through more clients per day. Some training in business, marketing, sales, psychology and communications may give starting estheticians an edge.