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How to Become an
Aesthetic/Cosmetic Nurse

Join a growing specialty in nursing

Demand for cosmetic procedures and plastic surgery continues to grow. According to a recent survey from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, more than three quarters of cosmetic-focused plastic surgery practices have seen an uplift in business since before the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost 30% report their business has at least doubled.

Because of this increase in demand, there is a greater need for trained nurses to help with aesthetic or beauty procedures relating to the face, skin and body.

If you enjoy helping people feel their best, a career as an aesthetic nurse may be a great choice. You can take these five steps to become an aesthetic nurse.

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Cosmetic Registered Nurse Preparing Patient for Lip Procedure

1. Understand the role

An aesthetic nurse is a Registered Nurse (RN) trained to provide aesthetic or cosmetic services to patients. These services typically include in-office, non-invasive treatments such as Botox injections, laser hair removal and tattoo removal. Aesthetic nurses provide services to patients of all ages who want to improve their appearance and self-confidence.

Duties aesthetic nurses provide may include:

  • Consulting with patients, including scheduling, interviewing and providing medical screenings prior to services being administered
  • Assessing patients’ aesthetic health concerns
  • Preparing patients and treatment areas prior to procedures
  • Providing patient aftercare and monitoring post-treatment
  • Assisting plastic surgeons or dermatologists with procedures or surgeries
  • Providing pre-and post-operative care related to plastic surgery
  • Staying up-to-date on new treatments and guidelines

Additionally, aesthetic nurses may administer the following treatments or services:

  • Injections of soft tissue or dermal filler, such as Botox or Juvaderm
  • Chemical peels
  • Dermabrasion
  • Photofacials, such as an IPL (intense pulsed light facial)
  • Micro-needling
  • Laser hair removal
  • Tattoo removal
  • Non-surgical body contouring

Where they work

Aesthetic nurses can work in dermatologist offices, outpatient plastic surgery clinics and private practices. Aesthetic nurses may also work in medical spas or “medispas,” where they provide medical-grade cosmetic services an esthetician or skincare specialist does not or cannot provide.

Aesthetic nurses typically work day shifts, but may have some evening or weekend hours. They typically are not required to work long shifts, such as 12-hour shifts, that nurses in hospitals often work.

2. Earn a nursing degree

The first step to becoming an aesthetic nurse is to earn a degree from an accredited nursing school. Traditional options include a two-year associate or four-year bachelor’s degree.

However, given the depth of the nursing profession in terms of education requirements, schools like ours offer multiple pathways and degree options, including:

  • Associate Degree in Nursing (ASN): With an ASN, you can prepare for an entry-level nursing career in as few as 20 months.
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN): Choose between both online and in-person course options for flexibility.
  • Accelerated BSN: Designed for people who already hold a bachelor’s degree and want to pursue a new career in nursing quickly.
  • Direct Entry MSN program: Begin working towards earning a master’s degree in nursing right away! Upon graduation, you will be prepared to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and become an MSN-prepared RN.
  • Pre-nursing associate degree program: If your GPA is too low to qualify for a nursing degree program, you can earn a general studies pre-nursing degree to improve your GPA and then enter into a nursing program.
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3. Become an RN

Once you have graduated from an accredited college or university, you are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). This exam tests students on the application and analysis using the nursing knowledge and training they gained in school. Once you pass the NCLEX-RN and meet all your state’s licensing requirements, you will become a licensed RN.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for registered nurses is $82,750 per year ($39.78 per hour). As you gain experience and additional certifications and education, your salary potential may increase.*

4. Earn experience and get certified

A nursing certification can help validate your skills and expertise and position you for job advancement. Key certifications for aesthetic nurses include:

Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist (CANS): This certification is geared for aesthetic nurses who perform less-invasive procedures, such as injections, laser hair removal and tattoo removal.

Qualifications needed to sit for the exam include:

  • Have a current RN license
  • Have at least two years of experience as an RN (Assisting an aesthetic nurse or medical practitioner is a good way to gain experience.)
  • Work with or in the practice of a board-certified physician in a cosmetics-related specialty, such as plastic surgery, dermatology, or ophthalmology
  • Have spent a minimum of 1,000 practice hours within one of the aforementioned specialties during the past two years
  • Have an endorsement from a supervising physician

Certified Plastic Surgery Nurse (CPSN): This certification is geared for aesthetic nurses who perform or assist with surgical procedures, including nose jobs, implants, or liposuction.

Qualifications needed to sit for the exam include:

  • Current RN license
  • At least two years of plastic surgical nursing experience
  • At least 1,000 practice hours in plastic surgery nursing

Current work in the field of plastic surgery nursing with a board-certified doctor of plastic surgery, ophthalmology or related field.

5. Consider advancement

After you’ve become a certified RN and have established yourself as an aesthetic nurse, you can grow your skills and discover new possibilities. We offer nursing programs that can prepare you to accomplish your career goals:

  • RN to BSN degree: This online program is perfect for associate degree RNs who want to increase their job opportunities and salary potential by earning their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. The online format offers you flexibility to fit your schedule and may be completed in as few as 12 months.
  • MSN degree: With an online Master of Science in Nursing degree, you can expand your career and increase your earning potential. Herzing has several pathways, including nursing leadership and administration, so you can choose the area you’re most interested in. Depending on the focus, you can finish in as little as 16 to 20 months.
  • Post-Master’s Certificate (PMC): The medical field is always changing, and nurses never stop learning. A post-master’s certificate in nursing is a great way to bolster your existing skillset and become adept in a new specialty.

Start your path today

As an aesthetic nurse, you can give people more confidence and help them feel their best. If you’re a nurse who would like to make a change, or if you would like to make a career move into nursing, learn about the options at Herzing today.

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* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2021. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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