For some aestheticians or aesthetic nurses, working at a medical spa is their dream job. These types of spas provide an advanced level of clinical results for clients and in some cases higher paying salaries and commissions. The saying, “the bigger the risk the greater the reward” is true for a medical spa. Their clients expect better results than if they were just having a facial. They want a results-driven corrective treatment, not something that only feels good for an hour.
There is a time and place for feel-good treatments, but most patients in a medical spa atmosphere want something a little more corrective. This means that professionals and owners need to level up. They need to have the right equipment for the job, which means investing money in devices, that are both safe and effective. The owner takes this risk financially and by reputation. While working in a medical spa may be a skin care professional’s dream, remember it has been the dream of medical spa owners for a longer time, and they have more at risk with more to lose. Because of this, it is imperative that the owner hires individuals that have the same goal –to deliver safe and effective treatments; the same vision, to improve people’s lives by giving them confidence; and the same character for the culture, being respectful of clients, their privacy, and time. When a medical spa owner is looking to hire a new employee, they will be looking for someone that understands their business. Leveling up one’s knowledge is going to be key to landing a job in a medical spa.
There are four major areas to focus on when applying for a job in a medical spa. These are the professional’s education, training or certifications, references, and portfolio. Having an aesthetician license or nursing license is number one. Make sure the license is up-to-date and be familiar with the physiology of the four most common skin conditions – aging, acne, pigmentation, and sensitive skin. Have a firm grasp on what these skin conditions look like, how they occur, and what ingredients are used to treat them. Many aesthetic and nursing programs do not focus or have any information on medical aesthetics, which is unfortunate, but there are several training programs to help get the training. However, these cost money, so do research to determine which one will be most beneficial. Depending on the state, some will require a laser certification in order to perform laser hair removal, while other states do not. In that case, it might not be necessary for an aesthetician to attend a laser certification course, but it would look better on a resume and give clients peace of mind that the practitioner has knowledge in performing the treatments.
The most popular treatments in a medical spa are neurotoxins and fillers, laser hair removal, body contouring, intense pulsed light, and facial exfoliation, which includes microdermabrasion and chemical peels. Becoming familiar with these modalities and how they work is imperative. Whether or not a skin care professional can perform them will depend on their license, the state board, and their employer. Again, there are several companies and independent professionals that provide continuing education on these specific topics. When hired for a job, the employer will typically train the new professional on the laser machine or device that they own. Major device brands will have a representative come in and do the training. If not, the owner or someone more advanced will provide the training. This keeps the staff on the same page and ensures the clients are getting the same treatment every time regardless of who is performing them. Remember, the overall goal is to provide safe and effective treatments.
If not familiar with the list mentioned above about neurotoxins and fillers, laser hair removal, body contouring, intense pulsed light, and facial exfoliation, then it is time to get familiar. Look into getting additional training or certificates for each treatment. Neurotoxin or neuromodulators are a class of medications that act as muscle relaxers to prevent wrinkles. Filler or dermal fillers, on the other hand, are gel-like substances that deliver volume to the face reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles as well. They work differently from neurotoxins but both work to improve aging skin. The next most important thing to understand is light-based treatments and the electromagnetic spectrum. The electromagnetic spectrum is a range of energy or radiation that is used to deliver heat or light to the skin to create a response and induce change. Laser (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation), LED (light emitting diode), and IPL (intense pulsed light) are all aesthetic modalities based on the electromagnetic spectrum, as well as radio frequency treatments, such as skin tightening and body contouring. Body contouring can be accomplished in many ways – through devices that deliver heat, cold, or even chemicals to destroy fat cells and create a more sculpted silhouette. And lastly, both physical exfoliation like dermaplaning or microdermabrasion or chemical exfoliation with alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids to trichloroacetic acids. Knowing the difference between alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids, and trichloroacetic, how they function, and who they are beneficial for will help a skin care professional understand peel selection. But, do not expect someone to be familiar with a particular brand so know the basics of the treatments listed above.
Next, choose references wisely. References are people who can talk not only about one’s work habits and skills but also the professional’s character. In a medical spa, people expect a higher level of results, as well as professionalism. Be respectful of other people’s time. Not only the time of the client that is in the chair but also respect the owner’s time. Having someone that can speak about one’s work ethic and character will be a make or break conversation that the owner will have. And it does not have to be with a previous spa if this is a skin care professional’s first job in aesthetics. This type of general information is valued across the board for all industries.
The last piece of the puzzle is the skin care professional’s portfolio. In aesthetics, these are usually images of clients’ before and after photos. If the professional has a social media page or a book they can print photos of clients before and after images, bring those in, and be able to eloquently talk about what was done to accomplish that desired outcome. For example, what the client’s concern was and how it was fixed. This will show the interviewer that the skin care professional is a problem solver and has the same vision of improving people’s lives because they resolved a client’s problem.
Now when should one apply to have the best chance? The busiest time of year in the medical spa industry is the fall going into winter and the new year. This is not the time to look for a job in a medical spa. There are probably no aesthetician’s that are leaving their jobs at this time because they are making all their commissions and tips that will get them through the slower summer months. The same situation or the owner because they will not be taking time away from patients and treatments to do training or use a bed for a discounted procedure as a model for training when there are full price patients waiting for a spot. The best time would be after January and into the spring and summer, maybe even in early fall, so that the prospective professional can be properly trained and ready for the holiday season. Be willing to work hard and be motivated as medical spas can become very competitive. Sometimes it is hard to get clients in the door, and it is just as much a skin care professional’s responsibility as it is the owners to help get those clients there.
Start a professional social media following immediately to help build relationships and a reputation with the spa community. Even if the account is just about fun facts and tidbits of information, this will start to build trust with the engaging audience. There can be a lot of unpaid hours building clientele, following up with clients, and tracking down leads, but it is worth it in the end. Level up with education, training, references, and a stellar portfolio to easily land a job at a medical spa. Working in a medical spa is a dream job as it allows professionals to help clients on a whole new level.
Erin Lucie, an Oklahoma native, is family nurse practitioner and licensed cosmetologist with over 15 years of experience in the aesthetics industry. Known in Tulsa, Oklahoma as an expert cosmetic injector, she completed her Botox and filler training in Beverly Hills, California in 2011 and has attended many advanced trainings since. Lucie has further specialized in optimizing and balancing the hormone dysfunction created by stress and the overwhelming life management issues relating to all professionals by providing clients with integrative options in health, lifestyle, medication, and appearance enhancement. She is a member of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.