Esthetician Vs Cosmetologist | Which Beauty Industry Career is Right for You?

Esthetician Vs Cosmetologist: Most people can’t tell the difference between cosmetology and working as estheticians, their license operations; who makes more money, and how much both professionals make.

I for one, thought they were the same owing to the fact that both professionals have a thing, two or more to do with the beauty industry.

But alas!!! Knowledge is power.


For people who are interested in hairstyling, nail treatments, or skincare, a career in the beauty business can be an interesting option. If you want to start a career as a beauty expert, you could study to become an esthetician or a cosmetologist.

When deciding between the two specialties, make sure your choice and the beauty training you receive are in line with your career goals and interests.

In this post, we will discuss the distinctions between an esthetician and a cosmetologist and provide advice on how to choose between the two career choices.

If you ever consider going into the beauty industry as a professional, you should read this post very keenly to understand the market, know what path to take and how to get there.

The beauty industry, which consists of skin, color cosmetics, hair, fragrances, and personal care, has very high global sales in 2020, with about 39% of the global cosmetics market and makeup at 19%.

And that keeps gaining traction up till 2022.

Here in this article, we divulge the intricacies of the difference between cosmetology and being an esthetician. 


But first, esthetician vs cosmetology: what are they?

Welcome Aboard Scholar!!!

Is Cosmetology And The Esthetician Profession A Good Career?

Just before we go on with what the difference is between cosmetology and becoming an esthetician and who makes more money: esthetician or cosmetologist let’s know what the job prospects are.

The future is bright for both cosmetologists and estheticians, and this makes it a good career for you.

When deciding whether to work as a cosmetologist or esthetician, there are many things to factor in such as;

  • How much time and money do you want to dedicate to your education.
  • What treatments do you see yourself performing?
  • How do you feel about being a listening ear and confidence-booster for dozens, if not hundreds, of people?
  • How far are you willing to go in the career path?
  • What school is ideal for you to learn and practice?
  • Which city is best for beauty treatment practitioners?

ALSO READ: 21+ Accredited Esthetician Schools New York to get into 2022

Esthetician Vs Cosmetologist: Who Are They By Definition

An esthetician is a professional who has been trained to provide services focused on skincare, its treatments, facials, makeup application, and hair removal through waxing, etc.

Also, they tend to help more people look beautiful and youthful using non-invasive treatments.

The services of an esthetician extend to performing cosmetic skin treatments, such as facials, superficial chemical peels, body treatments, and waxing. 

Hence why many confuse it with cosmetology.

On the other hand, cosmetology is the art and science of beautifying the hair, nails, and skin as applied by a cosmetologist.

Cosmetologists focus on using cosmetic procedures, therapies, and treatments to beautify the outer appearance with a focus on the hair, skin, and nails. 

That’s where you see the likes of hair styling (hair cutting and coloring), esthetics (skincare), makeup application, nail care (manicures and pedicures), and other beauty treatments.

Esthetician Vs Cosmetology: What Makes Them So Similar?

Now you see the slight difference between cosmetology and being an esthetician.

You can agree with me that you have mistaken both as the same.

The major reason why many assume that a cosmetologist and an esthetician are the same is that both are a major part of the beauty industry.

Secondly, both professions have a lot to do with the beautification of the outer personality of every client.

Thirdly, both professions have a thing, two or more to do with the skin and how to make it look youthful, attractive, and beautiful.

Furthermore, both can help their clients in mitigating beauty issues caused by damaging products or behaviors and work.

Both enjoy seeing their clients have confidence in themselves by making them look great.

But are they the same?

Absolutely not!!!

Esthetician vs Cosmetology: What Do They Do

Now let’s define what these professions do as a way to help you understand what the difference is between an esthetician and cosmetologist.

What A Cosmetologist Does.

A cosmetologist will focus more on 

  • Hair
  • Nails
  • Makeup
  • Skincare treatments.

The job of a Cosmetologist is to help clients feel and look beautiful by delivering top-notch quality services in the areas stated above.

Therefore, they are involved in hair styling (hair cutting and coloring), esthetics (skin care), makeup application, nail care (manicures and pedicures), and other beauty treatments.

What Does An Esthetician Do

Esthetics is a narrower focus in the beauty industry. 

What this means is that it’s not as wide-ranging as the cosmetology field.

Estheticians focus majorly on the health and beauty of the skin.

They have an overview of all things skin-related.

Some go on to specialize in fields like microdermabrasion and chemical peels.

So when it comes to skin care, it’s the job of an esthetician but any beauty routine that goes beyond that, it’s the Cosmetologist you see in operation.

Getting it?

Career: What Is The Difference Between Cosmetology and Esthetician?

When it comes to getting on with the job, you need to be trained and that’s where you need to really understand why both professions are different.

The training and the careers obtained differ between the two professions. 

Here is what you need to know about the difference in careers between estheticians and cosmetologist;

Career Paths For A Cosmetologist

Cosmetologists are well-trained in a variety of areas, due to the robustness of the profession.

Some prospects choose to specialize in one or two and start up a career in that line.

That would mean settling for performing services on hair, skin, and nails.

By doing so, they will have to take courses tailored to fit their interesting line of the trade before they obtain the esthetician or cosmetology license.

Students of cosmetology study a wide range of topics although it varies by state and educational institute.

Here are some typical courses a cosmetology student will take to obtain the esthetician or cosmetology license;

#1. Sanitation/Sterilization Procedures

In this cosmetology course, students learn the proper hygiene and basic sanitation practices for using beauty tools.

All courses are taught to follow the laws and regulations in your state of practice.

#2. Hair 

This cosmetology course focuses on everything from how to cut, color, style, and design hair of all shades, textures, and lengths. 

Some schools go on to enlighten students on the science behind hair colors or perms.

Good thing, students get to practice and learn under the supervision of experts with a wealth of experience.

#3. Nails Technology

Nail Technology is the one factor that differentiates esthetician vs cosmetologist. 

Estheticians don’t get this far in beauty treatments.

Those interested in building a career in the nail portion of cosmetology training will learn how to safely and effectively clean and shape nails, apply colors, and work with artificial nails or other nail art. 

It’s a new kind of art, like the Cardi B kind of nail artistry.

Also, students will learn the laws surrounding specific treatments in their states.

They understand the types of hand, nail, foot care, manicure, and pedicure.

#4. Skin Care Classes

Esthetician Vs Cosmetologist finds a balance in the skincare courses.

Cosmetology students interested in skin care will learn how to perform facials and identify basic skin problems.

Also, they get to help clients find the right skin care products according to their skin needs.

This is called cosmetology esthetics.

Cosmetology Esthetics get to perform skin care routines, but they don’t learn to practice intensive procedures that require advanced technology or how to provide medical treatments.

The job of a Cosmetologist rests as specified above in a skincare career.

ALSO READ: 21+ Esthetician Schools In Atlanta To Get Into 2022

Career Paths For An Esthetician

Estheticians, unlike cosmetologists, have just one specific career path and that’s dealing with the skin.

All their focus is on the skin. 

They can go as far as obtaining an overview of all things skin-related.

Some may choose to specialize in fields like microdermabrasion and chemical peels. 

Some go further to learn the medical aspects of providing skin treatment which is not an option available to cosmetologists.

That’s called a medical esthetician. 

Esthetics training will vary by state and individual school.

Here are some typical courses an esthetic student will take to obtain the esthetician or cosmetology license;

#1. Skin Conditions And Disorders

Students in the esthetician profession field will learn the anatomy and physiology of the skin.

This will allow them to know how to analyze and treat different skin conditions after they have identified what it is.

As an extension, some schools will have their students work in medical settings to work with people who have skin challenges.

This is the part where those who specialize are called the medical estheticians.

#2. Marketing, Sales, And Salon Management

Talking about esthetician vs cosmetology one of the courses that differentiates between the two is the marketing, sales, and salon management course.

This course introduces students to the world of business, how to manage clients, market themselves, and the products they love.

Basically, they learn other business management topics.

This will help students who want to start a spa or have a beauty product store upon graduation.

#3. Facials, Cleansing, Toning, And Massaging

Students can train in facial massage, chemical peels, and other body treatments to deep clean, tone, extract, and exfoliate the skin.  

Many of these services are performed in a spa environment.

#4. Specialty Courses

Just like the name signifies, these are specialized courses that help students learn to perform treatments that involve the use of tools like advanced technology or tattooing skills.

Not all Esthetician schools get to offer this because it is taught based on the laws of the state where you obtain a license.

Now you see on your journey to understand what the difference between esthetician and cosmetologist is, you see that their career path is also two worlds apart although it intersects at some point.

Esthetician Vs Cosmetologist: What Are The School Choices?

Both professions will have you go to a school even if it is a trade school to learn under the supervision of experts.

First, you need to be sure which journey you want to take. For estheticians, there are some esthetician schools online and you can find some esthetician schools near you as well.

The same applies to cosmetologists too.

Attending a school accredited by your state law is the validation to get an esthetician or cosmetology license which increases how much both Estheticians and cosmetologists make.

With schooling, there will be no esthetician or cosmetology license.

So scout for schools within and around you, complete any of the courses, and apply to your state board to obtain your license.

Esthetician Vs Cosmetology: What are the School Costs and Requirements?

Now you know how accredited school training is in your journey to become either a cosmetologist or an esthetician, you need to prepare yourself for it.

Among the many things you need to consider is the

  • type of cosmetology or esthetician school.
  • How to work towards licensure in either field.
  • The cost and program length are both major.
  • And lastly, the requirements to get started on either of these paths.

Esthetician Vs Cosmetology: Requirements For School Application

  • Regardless of the path you choose, you need to be at least 16 years old.
  • Also, you must possess a high school diploma or GED to begin your studies. 

How Much Does It Cost To Become An Esthetician vs Cosmetologist?

Because both professions differ, both will cost differently.

And also depending on the courses in each profession you are willing to take, the cost will either be high or low.

And yes the school and city have everything to do with the cost of cosmetology and esthetician school.

Here is the average cost of studying either of the profession;

Cosmetology School   

  • Average Cost of School: $6,500 – $10,000   

Esthetician School

  • Average Cost of School: $3,000 – $10,000

ALSO READ: 21+ Best Makeup School In Canada 2022 | Study Abroad

Esthetician Vs Cosmetologist: What Do I Do Upon Graduation?

Most people wonder what they do after graduating from cosmetology or an esthetician school.

Fact is, you have a  lot of career choices as long as you’re in the beauty industry.

But for clarity, we have defined the career path for each profession once you graduate from school.

What Can I Do With A Cosmetology Education After Graduation?

Here is a list of career paths you can undergo when you graduate from a cosmetology school;

#1. Become A Hairstylist

As a cosmetologist, you can specialize in taking care of hair, such as shampooing, cutting, and styling.

You can also go on to perm, color,  scalps, and deep condition.

Some can choose to go into braiding, deadlocking, or natural styling.

#2. Makeup Artistry

Yes, you can focus on applying cosmetics to the face and other body parts using various tools for different occasions. 

This includes working in a salon or spa for makeup applications and events such as weddings.

#3. Entertainment Industry Specialist

In these roles, you might offer cosmetology services to live performers or entertainment personalities.

What Can I Do With A Esthetician Education After Graduation?

Here is a list of career path you can undergo when you graduate from an Esthetician school;

#1. Spa Technician

Spa technicians focus on providing body treatments, sunless tanning, and bronzing options.

Some go on to offer services such as salt scrubs, mud treatments, and Belgian linen wraps. 

#2. Waxing or Hair Removal Specialist

An esthetician can choose to go into the removal body hairs using the appropriate tools and technologies available.

This could include using technologies like laser hair removal, waxing, and sugaring.

#3. Medical/paramedical esthetician

Estheticians with specialization in healthcare work as medical Estheticians.

They work with patients in hospitals a dermatologist or plastic surgeons’ offices. 

It’s a more advanced career path in the esthetician journey and will require additional training beyond a basic esthetics license.

#4. Permanent Makeup Technician

This involves tattooing.

More often than not, many clients go into permanent Makeup to shorten their makeup routine.

Some on the other hand do that to help people hide scars or vitiligo if they are making the clients uncomfortable.

Workers in this field require a lot of training and skills.

This art can be performed on the lips, eyes, or eyebrows or wherever the client desires.

Before you choose to specialize in this esthetic field ensure your state law allows it and obtain a license.

Esthetician Or Cosmetology License: Is It Necessary?

After your education, the next crucial step to take is to obtain your license for esthetician or cosmetology.

Without the esthetician or cosmetology license, you will not be able to practice. 

So, yes a license is necessary for the esthetician or those in cosmetology. 

The difference between a cosmetology and esthetician license is that the cosmetologist training does not give you the license to provide treatments like ultrasonic light therapy, LED light treatments, Botox, and eMatrix sublative rejuvenation, or permanent makeup, but an esthetics license validates you for such.

Estheticians who specialize in tattooing may fall outside of the beauty division and require a tattooing license, instead.

Some Estheticians even gain further licensure that allows them to provide certain medical treatments, which is not an option available to cosmetologists.

Keep in mind that licensing requirements vary by state.

esthetician vs cosmetology
esthetician vs cosmetology

Cosmetology Vs Esthetician: Where Do They Work?

Cosmetologists generally work in salons, barbershops, or the performing arts

On the other hand, Estheticians work in the same locations as cosmetologists, but there are options available to them that are unavailable to licensed cosmetologists.

ALSO READ: 21+ Approved Esthetician Schools In Utah To Get Into 2022

How Long Does It Take To Complete A Cosmetology vs Esthetician Program: What is the Difference?

Each expert has a different duration to complete any of the chosen niches in each of the careers.

The average training hours to complete a Cosmetology program is 1,400 – 1,600 hours. 

For Estheticians, training requires 600 hours.

For those who want to go on for Continuing Education, some states do not require that but if you’d state does, that will require less than 10 hours per re-licensure period.

Who Makes More Money: Esthetician or Cosmetologist?

As a recommendable step to all those who want to start a cosmetology or esthetician journey, you should consider how much estheticians and cosmetologists make.

As a way of comparison, most people want to know who makes more money: an esthetician or a cosmetologist. 

How much estheticians and cosmetologists make will depend on the job requirements, level of experience, and the city or country of expertise.

How Much Estheticians Make  

Estheticians earn about $36,750 on average annually, with the highest paying industry being the general medical and surgical hospitals at $46,020 annually.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the highest paying state for estheticians Amis Colorado at $52,020. 

California has the highest employment level.

How Much Cosmetologist Make  

Hairdressers, hair stylists, and cosmetologists    earn on the average an annual salary of $37,800 with the highest paying industry being the Performing Arts at $66,830 annually

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest paying state for cosmetologists is Washington DC at $45,680. 

With California having the highest employment level.

From this analogy, we can see which esthetician or cosmetologist who makes more money.

How to Make a Career Decision Between these Two

It can be difficult to decide what job route to take. If you’re debating whether to become an esthetician or a cosmetologist, compare and contrast the important distinctions above to help you make the right selection for your needs. Aside from comparisons, here are some pointers on how to choose between the two options:

#1. Consider how much time you have to devote to training.

As previously said, estheticians receive instruction that is far shorter in duration than cosmetology school. As a result, estheticians can often begin their professions earlier than cosmetologists. Consider how much time you have available to devote to studying the skills you will need to succeed.

#2. Determine which beauty treatments spark your attention.

Because cosmetologists and estheticians provide different cosmetic treatments, consider which treatments are most appealing to you before making a decision. Esthetics may be for you if you prefer skincare and health-related beauty treatments. Similarly, if you are interested in beautifying and innovative styling services, cosmetology may be the ideal career path for you.

#3. Recognize your ability to provide customer service.

Most beauty specialists are expected to provide some amount of customer service and support. Cosmetologists, on the other hand, are well-known for listening to clients’ tales and conversing about their lives. Estheticians, on the other hand, do not always serve in this position.

#4. Recognize your income needs

While cosmetologists and estheticians earn comparable annual salaries, cosmetologists earn around $3,000 more per year on average.

Nonetheless, estheticians have additional career options and the opportunity for continued study and certification, which can lead to a better overall compensation. Furthermore, as previously noted, the employment market for estheticians is predicted to grow significantly over the next ten years.

Which Is a Better Job Field: Cosmetology vs Esthetician?

It all depends on which one you’re most interested in. 

Both aesthetics and cosmetology have great benefits for many people.

If you’re looking to provide as many services as possible, it might be beneficial to go through both training courses. 

We believe like me, we have been able to clear your doubts on the fact that a Cosmetologist is not the same as an esthetician.

Following our esthetician vs cosmetologist analogy, you can spot what the difference is between an esthetician and a cosmetologist. 

Also, you can see who makes more money, is it the esthetician or the cosmetologist?

Keep in mind that before you get to practice you need to get your esthetician or cosmetology license.

Follow our Facebook page and YouTube Channel for more information about any academic content you seek.

Also, share with friends and family.