How much do aesthetic nurses make?

aesthetic nurses Now that you know more about what aesthetic nurses do and their skills, you may be curious about the compensation for aesthetic nursing. This role can be a significant departure from many nursing specialties because the compensation for it may often be influenced by bonuses or incentives based on certain factors, such as the number of procedures performed or the overall profitability of the clinic or medical spa they’re working for. That means some aesthetic nursing roles can be a mix of high-end sales consulting and skilled nursing.

While not all employers will follow that approach, it does inject some additional variance in earning potential. That said, even with these relatively unique compensation options, most will still earn hourly pay or a base salary. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not collect and report salary information for individual nursing specialties, it does provide information for registered nurses in general, which can be helpful. According to the BLS, registered nurses earned a median annual salary of $77,600 in 2021.1

Like with other nursing roles, factors like education level, experience, location and specialized training can also influence overall compensation.

What you should know about aesthetic nursing

1. You’ll help people feel better—but in a different way

Nursing is a helping profession, but it manifests differently when working in aesthetics. For some nurses, working in aesthetics can feel like a relief compared to a hospital setting, where patients are often worried, frustrated and itching to get out. They’re usually in pain or processing a new diagnosis, which can mean helping patients work through nerves or anger.

On the other hand, patients are typically much more enthusiastic for aesthetic procedure appointments. While they may be a little anxious, they’re excited about the changes they’re seeing, which means they’re excited to see you.

Maintaining a positive self-image is a challenging subject for almost everyone, so helping patients feel better about themselves can be an incredibly rewarding experience.

“I love that I get to enhance a client’s natural beauty, increase their self-confidence and make someone feel better about themselves,” says Melanie Speed, nurse practitioner and owner of Flawless Aesthetics Med Spa.

She recalls a mother who brought her son in who was being bullied at school for a large bump on his nose. Speed was able to perform a nonsurgical nose treatment on him. When she handed him the mirror, he burst into tears and hugged Speed. He told her she changed his life by fixing his biggest insecurity.

“Sometimes, when I’m having a difficult day, I think about that experience, and it reminds me why I do what I do,” says Speed.

While patients’ reactions can be rewarding, so can the work itself. Aesthetic nurses use their creativity to balance beauty and medicine. “I found that aesthetics allowed me to use that love for art and symmetry along with my medical skills,” says Speed.

2. Elective procedures are still consequential

While working in aesthetics doesn’t carry the life-and-death weight that nurses in other specialties carry on a daily basis, there can be huge repercussions for any mistakes made during an aesthetic procedure.

While aesthetic nurses can boost patients’ self-confidence, they can also disappoint patients with unintended effects of injections like a dropped eyebrow or eyelid if a neuromodulator is over-injected or migrates. Vessel occlusions are another unfortunate possibility that occur when an artery is accidentally injected with a filler or neuromodulator. It can also occur when vessels or arteries are compressed after injection.

A patient’s appearance is nothing to take lightly, and hugely consequential mistakes can happen during aesthetic procedures. That’s precisely why skilled healthcare professionals with specialized training are trusted to take on this work.

3. Social media will be essential to your job

Since aesthetic procedures are elective and generally paid for out-of-pocket, aesthetic treatment providers are also often working in a form of consultative sales—and that requires drumming up interest. For many aesthetic nurses, maintaining a strong social media presence is a critical (and time-consuming) tactic.

“People want to see your work before they can trust you with their faces,” says Speed.

Aesthetic nursing has found a home on social media. Image-driven channels are wonderful places for aesthetic nurses to share patients’ results and answer questions about treatments and products.

But social media can be a double-edged sword as well. Speed has watched how increased social media filters and image editing within the past few years have heightened some patients’ unrealistic expectations. Some want to look just like a certain celebrity when that’s just not possible. While managing those expectations can be a challenge, Speed says she does her best to highlight her patient’s unique features. “As an aesthetic nurse, my job is to enhance my client’s individual beauty,” says Speed.

Additionally, some patients’ perceptions of themselves go behind only social media’s influence. Patients may be suffering from body dysmorphic disorder. Aesthetic nurses may have to have difficult conversations with these patients and deny a procedure if they believe it will cause more harm than good.

4. You’ll always be learning—and teaching

There are certifications for nearly every procedure an aesthetic nurse does. Taking courses to stay on top of new treatments and studies is key to being an effective aesthetic nurse. Being certified in certain procedures can help boost your credibility as well.

In addition to learning, you’ll always be teaching. Patients can come into their appointments with misinformation from the internet or social media. It’s your job to help them get the best results possible. This could mean teaching them about a different treatment than the one they originally asked for to give them the results they really want.

5. It can be a very tough field to get established in

Unlike many nursing roles, there’s not exactly a shortage of qualified candidates looking to get started in aesthetic nursing positions, and some regions of the country have far more opportunities than others. This is a role that’s likely to have a lot of competition and may be a challenge to break into. Additionally, clinics and medical spas can be very picky when it comes to hiring—including having high expectations for their staff’s physical appearance.

Given the potential barriers to entry, it may be best to evaluate your career path—particularly if other types of nursing roles are not of interest to you. Ask yourself: If an aesthetic nursing role never materializes, will you be okay with working in a plastic surgery clinic, hospital or other more traditional bedside settings? If not, this may not be the ideal path to a career in aesthetics.

6. Regulations for aesthetic nurses vary

Healthcare is no stranger to complex and critical regulations that, if not adhered to, can put nursing or medical licenses at risk. The rules governing medical spas, how services are marketed and the training or education needed to provide specific treatments can vary from state to state. Given the investment needed to earn licensure, it’s important for anyone working in aesthetics to have a clear understanding of what is or isn’t acceptable in the state they choose to practice.

While this is true for all licensed healthcare professionals, aesthetics and medical spas can sometimes fall into tricky-to-navigate legal scenarios, so it’s advisable to proceed with caution.

7. There are opportunities for growth

One of the best things about nursing is the opportunity for growth in any specialty. Like with other specialties, an RN can become a nurse practitioner (NP) and work with a broader scope of practice.

In states that authorize full-practice authority for nurse practitioners, aesthetic NPs may have the opportunity to open their own aesthetics practice. While this is certainly a huge undertaking, as there’s a lot of the “business” side of healthcare to navigate, this option allows NPs to employ their own teams and build their own practice.

Speed says she has advanced her career by becoming an educator for other aesthetic professionals, including opening her own training program. She also plans to open additional medical spa locations in the future.

Even setting aside entrepreneurial ambitions, an aesthetic professional can continue to advance by mastering new aesthetic procedures and staying on the cutting edge of new developments in aesthetic medicine.


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