Renée Rouleau Shares the Pros and Cons of Being an Esthetician

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Updated 9/7/14. Let me start by saying, I have enjoyed every minute of my career as a celebrity esthetician. I started studying esthetics in 1987 and have never looked back. The industry has changed a lot since I began (mostly for the better) and it has become a popular career choice for many. Here is what I know to be true about having a career as an esthetician.

THE PROS OF BEING AN ESTHETICIAN:

It’s a very emotionally rewarding profession. You’re making people feel good and look good, so if you are a people pleaser, this career is for you. It’s very hard to have make your clients unhappy.

You’ll never get bored. Every skin is different and every client is different, so it keeps it very exciting.

With all the advancements in skin care, there is much to be learned. Between trade magazines, books, trade shows, blogs like mine, classes, podcasts and websites, the opportunity to learn is endless…

There are many options for places of employment. There are day spas, hair salons with a facial room (this is where I got my start), skin care spas (like the two I have in Dallas), hotel spas, cruise line spas, medical spas, doctor’s offices, department store line spas and resort spas.

If you prefer not to be a service provider, there are still many options. You could be a representative for a skin care line that is sold to department stores or spas so you would provide education and training classes to your various accounts, as well as work at trade shows. You can work selling a line at the department store counter (they LOVE hiring estheticians.) You can become an independent contractor and be on-call to work at various places. You can become an entrepreneur and develop your own skin care line!

Increased awareness of esthetics brings respect to this profession. When I started my career in 1987, nobody knew what an esthetician was. “You’re a what? Isn’t that when you put people to sleep before surgery?” No, that’s an anesthesiologist. Back then, doctors absolutely frowned upon facials and estheticians. But now, they are FINALLY embracing the idea of an esthetician and many have them working in their offices.  Plus, the increasing demand for people wanting younger-looking skin, being an esthetician is well-respected and well-known profession. Although in France, it has been that way for many, many decades.

Many jobs are available. The biggest area of employment opportunities right now is to work with a doctor. Many doctors are feeling the pressure to step away from traditional medicine because of their salary cuts because of insurance, Medicare, and more changes on the horizon. They are now offering cosmetic and skin procedures since it’s a cash business and can be very profitable for them, so many are looking to hire estheticians to head up that part of their practice.

A career as an esthetician offers a very flexible schedule. Many places offer both part and full-time schedules so if you have another career or have children, this is ideal. I have employed many estheticians who were once full-time and now work part-time after having children.

Commission or salary. Take your pick. The pay varies but you can choose to work at a place that offers the kind of payment structure that works best for you. For example, many places pay by commission only. So if you’re the hard-working, self-starter type that is motivated by the ability to make an endless amount of money, then a commission structure is for you. If you are someone who prefers a steady, consistent income each week, then you might choose to work at a place that pays a set salary. I think it’s extremely important that you determine what pay structure would be best for your personality before you accept any employment opportunity.

Good benefits. Of course, every place varies. Back when I started, the benefits were extremely limited but now that is as seen as a real profession, it is possible to get health insurance, retirement, and travel/training reimbursements (especially working for a doctor). At Renée Rouleau, we offer a full-benefits package. I believe it is very important to be good to your employees and give them every benefit possible. One of the other perks for working at my company is I actually pay my estheticians’s to give facials to my other esthetician’s. In this industry, often times you’ll find that you rarely end up getting the procedures you perform. You get busy, you forget, you don’t take time out for yourself—it’s all too common.  I believe as an esthetician, you need to practice what you preach so I’ve set up a protocol that ensures this.

THE CONS OF BEING AN ESTHETICIAN:

Too many places offering skin procedures increase the competition. Although it is wonderful there is increased awareness and therefore demand for skin care services, it also brings on competition since everyone is offering similar services. It is so important to find a way to set yourself apart from the rest so you’ll stand out in the crowd. For example, at Renée Rouleau skin care spas, we offer facials, chemical peels, lifting treatments and acne treatments—only. Instead of offering everything to everyone, we want to offer a few types of services and be THE BEST at them. Could I associate myself with a doctor and offer all of the injectables and invasive services? Could I offer hair, nail and massage services and become a day spa? Of course I could, but I purposely choose not to because there are way too many places that offer all of those services and not enough good places offering just what we do. I like a place that has a specialty, and so do our clients.

The demand for skin services can be hugely impacted by an economic downturn. I’ve spoken with many of my colleagues whose businesses have been dramatically affected with this recession. When times are tough, people spend less and getting a facial can be the first to go.

You may have to bring your own clientele. Depending on the place you work, you may be required to bring your own clients with you, if they haven’t done the work for you. This can be very challenging since for most esthetician’s, their number one difficulty is not having enough clients.

Many places will not hire a new esthetician right out of school. I can’t tell you how many estheticians’ I speak with that will not be hired because they don’t have experience.Many places don’t have a training program in place, so they expect you to come knowing it all. At Renée Rouleau, I almost ALWAYS hire new estheticians with no experience. I train them myself for three months and don’t want anyone coming in to my practice who is burnt out, think they know it all (you’ll never know it all) and with bad habits. New graduates are really excited about diving into their new profession and I Iove the energy it brings.

It can take years to build a clientele. It takes a long, long time to really build up a good, repeat clientele. The reason is because you won’t “connect” with every client and not every client comes in regularly. If you want immediate gratification in getting your schedule booked with requests, this is no easy task.

The majority of people who go into this profession will last less than 2 years. This is very unfortunate, but true.  Simply put, they couldn’t make it work. This is why it is so important to figure out what kind of pay structure works best for you and what kind of environment you would like to work in. For example, I would be bored to work in a hotel or a resort spa. It’s one in, one out and you’ll probably never see the people again. This is the nature of these establishments since they usually live out of town. For me, I wouldn’t last long at these places because I am looking for long-term relationships with my clients to solve their skin care problems and I like to see them on an ongoing basis.

You have to work evenings and weekends. Depending on where you work, the busiest times are often when your clients are not working.

You must always have a smiling face. I put this as a con simply because you must always be “on.” There’s no such thing as “having a bad day” when you’re an esthetician. No matter what is going on in your personal life, you must always present yourself in a friendly and professional matter at all times—and this can be challenging.

Commission only means if you don’t have clients, you don’t get paid. As previously mentioned, this pay structure is not for everyone. It either makes you more motivated to work harder, or discourages you.

Often times, you’re left to figure it out on your own. If there isn’t an on-site trainer who oversees your work (many places bring in outside trainers for only a few days), often times you’re left on our own to figure it out—with no support. Especially as a new esthetician, it can take you a good year to get truly comfortable working with the various skin types, and it is important to be able to ask questions as they arise.

Keep in mind that I’m generalizing here, because every company offers something different. It can be an amazing career choice like it has been for me and my employees. I have been on both sides; working for someone and working for myself and have enjoyed every minute of it. But with anything, it’s hard work, dedication and a commitment to learning—to make you the best esthetician you can be.  And if all goes well, it will pay off in more ways than one.

Read: Tips for Having a Successful Career as An Esthetician

Read: More Advice for Estheticians

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Renée Rouleau

Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”