How to Become an Aesthetic/Cosmetic Nurse

    April 9, 2020
    How to Become an Aesthetic/Cosmetic Nurse

    Nurses make a difference in people’s lives in many different ways and an aesthetic or cosmetic nurse is no different. You’ll be helping people through the use of non-invasive, in-office treatments such as injectables and skin treatments. Aesthetic nurses often assist plastic surgeons and cosmetic dermatologists, providing pre-and post-operative care related to plastic surgery as well as delivering care to patients under the supervision of a physician.  

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    In this guide, we will answer many of the questions you might have when considering a career as an aesthetic/cosmetic nurse, including:


    • What is an Aesthetic Nurse? 

      • Aesthetic nurses, also known as cosmetic nurses, are registered nurses who provide aesthetic and cosmetic services and care to patients. They have specialized training in services ranging from fillers, laser skin treatments, tattoo removal and more.
    • How Do I Become an Aesthetic Nurse? 

      • To become an aesthetic nurse, you must first complete the education necessary to become a registered nurse, noting that nurses with their BSN are likely to find it easier to find a job in their chosen profession. Following the completion of their education and getting their nursing license, it is recommended that aesthetic nurses get certified by the Plastic Surgical Nursing Nursing Certification Board.
    • How Much Does an Aesthetic Nurse Make? 

      • According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary for an aesthetic/cosmetic nurse in the United States is just over $85,000.
    • What Does an Aesthetic Nurse Do? 

      • Beyond providing cosmetic services such as laser hair removal and skin treatments, dermabrasion, Botox injection and fillers to provide a more youthful appearance, they also work by the side of physicians such as dermatologists and plastic surgeons as they perform clinical and surgical procedures for patients.
    • What Are the Educational Requirements to Become an Aesthetic Nurse? 

      • The path to becoming an Aesthetic/Cosmetic Nurse starts with completing an ADN or BSN degree and passing the NCLEX-RN exam in order to be licensed in your state. Though certification is not required, it is available and preferred.
    • How Long Does it Take to Become an Aesthetic Nurse? 

      • Once a registered nurse has her license she can apply for jobs as an aesthetic nurse immediately, but if you are interested in being certified as an aesthetic/cosmetic nurse by the Plastic Surgical Nursing Certification Board you will need two years of experience, including one year in a related specialty area. 

    Part One What is an Aesthetic/Cosmetic Nurse?

    Aesthetic/cosmetic nurses are registered nurses who provide a variety of services. These can include injections of dermal fillers and Botox neurotoxin; photofacials; dermabrasion; micro-needling; tattoo removal; and non-surgical body contouring. 

    They generally work in private offices or medical spas that are affiliated with plastic surgery practices or cosmetic dermatology practices, providing services to a wide range of patients who are seeking a boost in their appearance and self-confidence. 

    Though most patients that an aesthetic nurse will treat are women, men are increasingly seeking these treatments too. As the emphasis on youth and appearance continues to determine one’s success in both professional and social settings, it is likely that the demand for these services will continue to grow.  

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    Part Two Average Salary for an Aesthetic Nurse

    The salary for aesthetic/cosmetic nurses can vary based upon education, certification, experience and geographic location within the country. ZipRecruiter reports that the average annual pay for a cosmetic nurse is $85,621, though some cosmetic nurses are earning as much as $124,000, with the middle 25th percentile of the country ranging from $69,000 to $99,500.

    As is true in most other professions, cosmetic nurses with higher levels of experience in their field receive the highest level of compensation, and salary level is often boosted by additional benefits including paid vacation and sick leave, health, dental, and vision insurance policies, prescription coverage, reimbursement for educational expenses and more. 

    Part Three How To Become an Aesthetic Nurse

    If you want to become an aesthetic nurse, you’ll need to complete the following steps. 

    Step 1. Earn Your Registered Nurse Degree

    Becoming an aesthetic/cosmetic nurse begins with a registered nurse degree, and that can be gained through either a two-year Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. 

    Some nurses decide to go beyond the BSN and earn their Master of Science in Nursing in keeping with the national push for nurses to advance their careers by earning advanced degrees. 

    Step 2. Pass the NCLEX-RN

    Once a nurse has earned their RN degree from an accredited nursing program they will need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become licensed in their state. 

    Step 3. Gain Experience 

    Spend at least 2 years working in core competencies with a board-certified physician in Plastic/Aesthetic Surgery, Dermatology, Facial Plastic Surgery or Ophthalmology

    Step 4. Earn a Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist Credential 

    In order to position yourself to be eligible for the most desirable aesthetic/cosmetic nurse positions it is a good idea to earn a Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist credential through the Plastic Surgical Nursing Certification Board

    Timeline for Becoming an Aesthetic Nurse:

    • 2-5 years to earn ADN, BSN or MSN degree
    • Pass NCLEX-RN exam
    • 2 years working in core competencies with a board-certified physician in Plastic/Aesthetic Surgery, Dermatology, Facial Plastic Surgery or Ophthalmology

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    Part Four What is the Career Outlook for Aesthetic Nurses?

    The need for nurses in the United States is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that registered nurse jobs are expected to grow by 12% through the year 2028. With new clinical treatments being developed every day and growing enthusiasm for cosmetic and aesthetic services, nurses with experience and education in this specialty area are expected to be increasingly in demand, especially as the growth in this field is projected to continue for the next several years. 

    Part Five What do Aesthetic Nurses Do?

    Aesthetic/cosmetic nurses assist plastic surgeons and dermatologists as they provide both invasive and non-invasive cosmetic procedures designed to improve patients’ appearance. In some cases, patients seek treatment for medical purposes and for others the procedures are sought to provide a boost of confidence and a more youthful look. 

    The job responsibilities that aesthetic/cosmetic nurses perform can include:

    • Consulting with patients, including scheduling, interviewing and medical screening prior to services being provided
    • Examination of skin to assess both aging and other health problems
    • Performing pre-operative and post-operative care
    • Assisting the physician with procedures and surgeries
    • Preparation and sterilization of instruments and surgery suites
    • Administering injections of Botox and fillers; performing chemical peels, laser hair removal, dermabrasion and CoolSculpting; removing tattoos; and more.

    Aesthetic nurses work in dermatology and plastic surgery offices and may also assist in hospital operating rooms. Though there are occasional emergencies and adverse reactions to treatments, in most cases aesthetic nurses are able to work regular hours with no night shifts.  

    In addition to being able to work in an environment that is dedicated to improving patient quality of life, aesthetic nurses also have the advantage of being able to build long-term relationships with patients who often return for maintenance of existing treatments or to investigate additional treatments. They are able to see the improvements that their treatments provide and observe the boost of confidence that patients get from achieving their individual aesthetic goals.

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    Part Six What are the Continuing Education Requirements for Aesthetic Nurses?

    Aesthetic/cosmetic nurses who meet the requirements for Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist status need to be recertified every three years. The requirements for recertification include accumulating 45 contact hours with a minimum of two hours specifically related to patient safety and a minimum of 30 contact hours in any combination of at least one or more of the following core specialties: Plastic/Aesthetic Surgery; Ophthalmology; Dermatology; and Facial Plastic Surgery.

    Part Seven Where Can I Learn More About Becoming an Aesthetic Nurse?

    There are several organizations that support aesthetic nurses within the scope of their practice and in furthering their careers. The goal of each of these organizations is to provide resources that further professional development, education and research, as well as patient safety and best evidence-based practices. These organizations include:

    You can also learn more about aesthetic/cosmetic nursing through! Check out our other related articles:

    There are also many other resources available to learn more about life as an aesthetic cosmetic nurse. One of the best ways to determine whether this is a career that will be right for you is to speak directly to a cosmetic/aesthetic nurse who is practicing within a private practice or medical spa. 

    Nurses who are trained in cosmetic and aesthetic procedures are able to raise the level of care for patients seeking improvements in their appearance. These nurses are able to experience tremendous satisfaction and financial reward from their while providing patients with treatments that improve and enhance the quality of their lives.

    If you are interested in a career that will allow you to see that you’ve made an improvement in your patients, there are few better choices than cosmetic aesthetic nursing. Whether helping a patient to look younger, removing a regretted tattoo or smoothing away old acne scars, cosmetic nurses provide their patients with a sense of possibility and self-confidence unlike any other type of nursing specialty. 

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