How to Become a Laser Hair Removal Technician
Laser hair removal technicians remove body hair safely and permanently using state-of-the-art laser equipment. Laser hair removal technicians are often dual- licensed as estheticians, nurses or physician’s assistants.
To prepare clients for hair removal, technicians first discuss with the client their skin type, allergies, medications and overall health. They assess these elements so as to determine the safest and most effective settings for the laser device, resulting in the best outcome. During laser hair removal, a laser beam passes through the skin to an individual hair follicle. The intense heat of the laser damages the hair follicle, which inhibits future hair growth. It takes several treatments to see permanent reduction of the hair.
Laser hair removal (LHR) can be safely performed on almost all parts of the body, and is used most often on the legs, back, face, armpits and bikini area. Technicians help put clients at ease, educate them on the treatment and also make suggestions for dealing with the mild pain and discomfort that can accompany the procedure. Through the guidance they provide, these professionals make the laser hair removal process as efficient and effective as it can be.
In some states, laser hair removal technicians are required by law to work in medical facilities under direct physician supervision or under a medical license. In other states, they work outside of clinical settings in salons and spas. Where permitted by law, experienced technicians are able to open their own practices.
Most LHR technicians work full time. Many work evening hours and weekends, especially if they are self-employed. They generally work in clean, well-lit areas. Because the job is part of the beauty industry, many employers expect LHR technicians to be well dressed and groomed. During examinations and treatments, these professionals wear protective clothing, including lab coats, rubber gloves and eye protection.
A job as a laser hair removal technician is quite physical. They often stand for an hour or more during procedures. Careful attention to safety precautions is necessary to protect both the client and the technician from injury.
LHR technicians spend much of their day interacting with people. They strive to build a rapport with clients and to ease their discomfort during procedures. Many technicians also work closely with a supervising physician.
Some states only allow medical professionals such as physicians, physician’s assistants and nurses to perform laser procedures. It is crucial that aspiring LHR technicians understand the regulations of the state in which they plan to practice. For the most up-to-date information, contact the state medical board or department of health.
Many community colleges, technical colleges, trade schools and career centers offer training in laser hair removal. Instruction covers laser physics, skin and hair biology and laser-tissue interactions. Training lasts anywhere from a few days to several weeks - it depends on the program and the student’s educational background. Most programs require a high school diploma or equivalent.
When choosing a training program, begin by asking the state medical board for a list of approved programs. If no list is available, look for a program that offers a combination of classroom and hands-on learning. Instructors should be certified professionals with extensive experience in the field. Because laser technology changes rapidly, make sure the program teaches the latest procedures on up-to-date equipment. Finally, choose a program that leads to state or national certification upon completion.
Two professional organizations, the National Council on Laser Certification (NCLC) and the International Aesthetic & Laser Association (IALA), offer national certification and recommend online courses by the Laser Training Institute. While these courses prepare students for the written portion of NCLC’s national certification exam, they do not offer hands-on training. Students must therefore arrange additional training and supervision in order to meet the experience requirements for national certification. Laser manufacturers often provide product training to professionals who already have a background in laser safety.
In some states, LHR technicians are trained on the job under the facility’s license. Trainees must usually take industry-approved laser safety courses and obtain an apprentice credential from the state’s licensing body.
Licensing and/or Certification
Practicing LHR technicians must be state certified and registered. National certification is voluntary but is growing in importance. Two options are available for national certification:
NCLC and IALA jointly administer the Certified Laser Hair Removal Specialist credential. To become certified, candidates must meet the following requirements:
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Complete 16 hours of documented laser safety and hair removal coursework
- Pass a 100-question proctored exam covering laser safety and hair removal procedures
- Submit at least 20 case reports for treatments performed under the supervision of a physician or senior provider
The Society for Clinical & Medical Hair Removal, Inc. (SCMHR) offers the Certified Laser Hair Removal Professional credential. It’s the only national certification aimed toward physicians, nurses and medical estheticians to demonstrate their knowledge of this profession. To become certified, they must pass a 100-question written exam developed by experts in the field.
Necessary Skills and Qualities
LHR technicians should be friendly, customer-service-oriented individuals who are able to put their clients at ease. They must have the stamina to stand for long periods of time several times a day. An attention to safety procedures is essential to prevent injury to both the client and the technician. Because new procedures are constantly emerging, technicians should be lifelong learners with a keen interest in science and technology.
Opportunities for Advancement
Certified technicians with demonstrated skill and experience generally have the most opportunity for advancement. Some start their own hair removal businesses or become full-time instructors in the field. Continuing business education will benefit technicians looking to become solo practitioners.
If you would like to gain the necessary education to become a laser hair removal technician, we highly recommend that you check out our free School Finder Tool located HERE.
Salary and Job Outlook
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The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the annual median salary for skincare specialists (including LHR technicians) is $29,050. The lowest paid 10% of skincare specialists earn less than $17,680 while the highest paid 10% earn more than $58,880. Earnings generally increase with education, certification and experience.
According to the US Department of Labor, job growth for skincare specialists (including laser hair removal technicians) is expected to increase by 12% between 2014 and 2024, which is faster than average for all occupations. This is due to the growing popularity of laser hair removal, which has become more affordable and less painful thanks to technological advances. Growth of the salon and spa industry is also creating job opportunities for laser hair removal technicians.
Due to liability concerns, demand will be highest for technicians with medical training (nurses and physician’s assistants) or skincare backgrounds (estheticians). Employers strongly prefer candidates with demonstrated professional skill and national certification.
LHR technician jobs are posted on the websites of spas, salons and clinics and on online job boards. Technicians can also find jobs by networking with former employers and clients.