Esthetician License Requirements and Training Schools in Illinois

Estheticians hold the secrets to attaining the youthful, radiant skin that everyone wants. If you want to learn the secrets to uncovering natural beauty through healthy skin—you should consider starting a career as a skin care specialist. With one of the highest concentrations of esthetician clinics, salons and day spas in the country, the greater Chicago-Joliet-Naperville area is one of best places imaginable to start a career in health and beauty.

Before you can start your esthetics career in Illinois, you must first qualify for an esthetician license through the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. For an easy guide on how to become a licensed esthetician in Illinois, simply follow these steps:

Complete an Esthetician Training Program
Submit an Application for Examination and Licensure
Pass the CTS National Exams
Begin your Career as an Esthetician in Illinois
Continue your Education and Renew your License



Step 1. Complete an Esthetician Training Program

Illinois standards require that you complete seven hundred and fifty (750) hours of formal esthetician training. Esthetician school will introduce you to everything from skincare theory to the practical facets of beautifying skin.

Enter Zip:

Courses included in your training program will cover the following subjects:

  • Facials
  • Waxing
  • Body Treatments
  • Makeup
  • Microdermabrasion
  • Study of Ingredients
  • Aromatherapy
  • Full Body Treatments
  • Scrubs
  • Wraps
  • Wet and Dry Services
  • Advanced Esthetic Treatments
  • Enzyme Treatments
  • Chemical Peels
  • LED for Collagen and Skin
  • Runway and Wedding Makeup
  • Medical Treatments
  • Laser Theory
  • Exfoliates
  • Medical Peels
  • Injections
  • Nutrition

Once licensed, you can always take advantage of advanced courses, which will keep you up to date on the latest trends and techniques for beautifying skin.



Step 2. Submit an Application for Examination and Licensure

After you complete your education, you will need to complete an Illinois application for examination and licensure. On this application, you will need to indicate how you are applying for your license, whether by a request to take the exam, or by endorsement.


Taking the exam is the most common way to attain an Illinois license. You will indicate on your application that your licensure method is examination. In order to fully complete this application for examination and licensure, submit the following documents:

  • Filled out Illinois Esthetician Application for Exam and License
  • Submit official esthetician school transcripts
  • Submit Exam fee of $127.00 to CTS

You will also need to submit an exam application directly to the Continental Testing Services, or you may apply for registration online. This will serve as your application for the examination, and this same above paper application will (after you receive passing exam scores) serve as your application for the esthetician license.


You may be eligible to apply for a license by endorsement with the Illinois Board, if you hold an active esthetician license in another state. If so, you will need to make sure that you fill out the following supporting documents with your license application:

  • Application for License by Endorsement
  • Certification of Licensure (CT) which must be completed by the original licensing Board
  • Verification of Employment and Experience
  • Official Esthetician School transcripts
  • Application fee of $45.00

You will forward the four-page application, supporting documents, and fee to the Board at the following address:

Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation
ATTN: Division of Professional Regulation
PO Box 7007
Springfield, IL 62791



Step 3. Pass the CTS National Exams

Once your application has been reviewed and accepted, you will become eligible to schedule the Illinois licensing exams. You will be responsible for scheduling your licensing exams. Illinois offers the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology exams, proctored by Continental Testing Services, which include the theory (or written) and practical exams.


The written exam will take you about ninety (90) minutes to complete, and it will cover, but is not limited to, the following esthetician topics:

  • Infection Control
  • Cells and Microbiology
  • OSHA Safety Procedures
  • The Tissues and Organs of the Body
  • Steaming esthetician services
  • Exfoliation esthetician services
  • Extraction esthetician services
  • Massage and Manipulation

You will find the following guides helpful for the written exam study:

  • Milady’s Standard Fundamentals for Estheticians10th, 2009
  • Salon Fundamentals Esthetics 2007, 2005, 2004, 2002
  • Milady’s Standard Fundamentals for Estheticians 9th Ed., 2004, 2003
  • Modern Esthetics, Gambino, 1992 by Milady
  • Milady’s Standard Cosmetology, 2004
  • NIC Health and Safety Standards


The practical exam assesses your capacity to perform esthetician services. The exam lasts for three (3) hours, during which you will provide the following esthetician service using a mannequin:

  • Set up
  • Cleaning and steaming the face
  • Massaging the face
  • Manual extraction on the forehead
  • Hair removal on eyebrows
  • Facial mask
  • Facial makeup
  • Summary and cleanup

The available testing locations in Illinois are found in Springfield, IL, and Chicago, IL.

After you have received notification of passing your exams, you will need to submit any remaining licensing fees and forms from the Application for Licensure and/or Examination within one (1) year of getting your passing scores. You will submit this application for license to the Board. If you wait longer than one (1) year, you will need to re-submit an application for examination, pass the exams, and submit a new fee.



Step 4. Begin your Career as an Esthetician in Illinois

Congratulations! Now you may start your career as an esthetician in Illinois. There are many jobs that licensed estheticians may be qualified to apply for:

  • Professional Skin Care Specialist in Salons
  • Skin Care Specialists in Medical Offices (such as dermatology)
  • Estheticians working in Day Spas
  • Make-Up Artists in Salons or Day Spas
  • Wellness Centers
  • Make-Up Manufacturer Representative

If you are looking to pursue a job in a traditional setting, consider some of Illinois’ top spas:

  • Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa – Algonquin
  • Body and Soul MedSpa, LLC – Woodridge
  • ULTA Salon, Cosmetics and Fragrance – Downers Grove
  • Earth Mama Esthetics – Plainfield
  • Robert Gold Salon and Spa – Evanston



Step 5. Continue Education to Renew License

Your Illinois esthetician license will expire on September 30th of every odd-numbered year. You will need to renew at that point if you want to keep legally working as an esthetician in Illinois.

According to the Illinois Esthetician law, you are required to complete at least ten (10) hours of continuing education within each two-year renewal cycle. Continuing education courses must be directly related to your services as an esthetician.

You will need to keep records of your continuing education, which should include the dates, times, locations, courses, subjects, and number of hours you received. The Board will complete random audits, and your certifications of completion should be readily available upon request.

Esthetician Salaries in Illinois

The map of Chicago is dotted with chain salons, upscale resorts, and exclusive med spas that rely on skilled estheticians to keep clients happy and coming back for healthier, more beautiful skin. And as customers keep lining up to dish out big bucks for quality services, your job security and paychecks will increase accordingly. Jobs are projected to grow by a little over 4% until 2026, a modest growth rate, but one that still tells the story of an industry that just keeps growing in the Windy City and throughout the state.  This 4% growth rate will actually generate more than 300 new jobs in esthiology every single year. And bigger job markets mean better chances of finding those dazzling salary offers.

In many ways, the spa industry allows you to become the architect of your own income. The most ambitious estheticians start planning their careers before even hitting the job market, considering all their options when it comes to work environments, compensation models, and marketing strategies.

Experience + Tips + Commissions = Top Earning Potential

The highest paid estheticians figure out how to take control of their income early on in their careers. Customer tips and product sales can make a huge difference in what you can expect to earn, so become a customer service powerhouse and you could boost your income by as much as 10-25%.

Also, find a gig that offers the best payout agreement. You’ll often find that hourly wage jobs pay additional commissions for the products you sell and the services you provide. If you’ve got what it takes to strike out on your own, then a space rental deal where you pay a salon owner for the use of a room while keeping everything you earn for the services you provide is definitely worth considering. With this kind of arrangement, you’ll be handling all your own booking and scheduling, but you’ll get to decide your own hours while benefiting from the reputation of the spa and the advertising they do.

In this industry, there’s no substitute for experience and reputation since so much of the business you get comes from word of mouth. Start getting plenty of experience and building your reputation, and do it as quickly as you can. In time, you could get scouted for managerial positions, become a product rep, or even become a spa owner yourself.

In salaried and hourly positions, estheticians in Illinois can expect to earn a whole lot more as they gain experience in the industry:

Hourly Wage

  • Bottom 10%: $8.85
  • Mid-Level: $13.80
  • Top 10%: $27.09

Annual Salary

  • Bottom 10%: $18,400
  • Mid-Level: $28,710
  • Top 10%: $56,35

Knowing Where to Look – Esthetician Salaries in the Biggest Metro Areas

Finding out which areas of the state have the kind of high-end spas and clinics that offer the big money opportunities is a wise idea if you’re in a position to relocate. Most skincare specialists automatically believe Chicago is the most obvious choice, but cities with the biggest concentration of jobs don’t always have to ante up to attract top talent. Consider checking out jobs in Springfield where estheticians can take home close to $70,000:


  • Bottom 10%: $29,740
  • Mid-Level: $39,820
  • Top 10%: $69,270


  • Bottom 10%: $18,390
  • Mid-Level: $29,260
  • Top 10%: $57,670


  • Bottom 10%: $18,480
  • Mid-Level: $28,500
  • Top 10%: $48,490


  • Bottom 10%: $18,690
  • Mid-Level: $25,410
  • Top 10%: $47,290

2017 salary data provided by the U.S. Department of Labor-Sponsored resource CareerOneStop – State and MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) data includes estheticians at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.  

2016 job growth data provided by the U.S. Department of Labor-Sponsored resource Projections Central –

All data accessed June 2019.



10 Notable Esthetician Programs in Illinois

Illinois is best known for “the windy city” of Chicago, and luckily for estheticians, Chicago is filled with top-notch salons and spas. Wherever you choose to study in Illinois, the state offers plenty of opportunities to receive a quality education. With an average tuition of only $10,994, we’ve chosen schools that are affordable as well as excellent educational opportunities.

Here’s our pick for the top ten beauty schools in Illinois that offer esthetician programs:

A.B.C. School of Cosmetology and Nail Technology Inc. - Lake in the Hills


  • Tuition Cost: $12,000
  • Kit Cost: Included in tuition

At A.B.C. School of Cosmetology and Nail Technology, you’ll be able to study essential esthetician techniques, including facials, body wraps, back treatments, treatment of skin disorders, and hair removal procedures. A.B.C. allows each student the opportunity to participate in the community through beauty shows and competitions. A.B.C.’s scholarship opportunity offers students the ability to pursue a full esthetician education for only $6,000, and the schools accepts VA benefits. The schools also offers continuing education opportunities if you’d like to pursue advanced techniques.

Cosmetology and Spa Academy ® - Crystal Lake & Schaumburg


  • Tuition Cost: $9,000
  • Kit Cost: $230
  • Program Length: 5 months

The Cosmetology and Spa Academy focuses on keeping class sizes small to give attention to each student. The school bases its curriculum around hands-on experience—over 90% of the program will be spent performing techniques on clients. You’ll also earn credit hours and experience throughout the program by participating in an internship through one of The Cosmetology and Spa Academy’s participating salons. You’ll learn how to financially manage your business, how to be an effective salesperson, and how to build client relationships. The Academy partners with DermaMed Solutions to offer four students per year the Aesthetic Education Award, a $1,000 scholarship.

G Skin & Beauty Institute - Chicago


  • Tuition Cost: $11,860
  • Kit Cost: $441

At G Skin and Beauty Institute, you’ll not only study skin and skin analysis, but you’ll study the ingredients of skin care products to have a solid understanding of how to treat skin disorders. You’ll study aromatherapy, facials, face massage, and full body treatments like scrubs and wraps. You’ll even make your own products and use them in your services. The curriculum includes advanced treatments such as microdermabrasion, LED therapy, enzyme treatment, chemical peels, hot and cold stone massages.

International Training Academy - Schaumburg


  • Tuition Cost: $13,890
  • Kit Cost: Included in tuition

Through the International Training Academy’s esthetician program, you’ll be able to network with area salons and spas, learn the theory of the anatomy and physiology of skin, and gain practical experience with clients. The program is geared towards clinical esthetics. Upon graduation, you’ll receive a clinical esthetics certificate of excellence, advanced makeup certificate, and the laser certificate of attendance. You’ll participate in beauty shows that benefit charities like the Red Cross and Living Well Cancer Resource Center. The school also offers continuing education opportunities, a scholarship opportunity, and accepts VA benefits.

Mr. John’s School of Cosmetology, Esthetics, & Nails - Decatur & Jacksonville


  • Tuition Cost: $7,895
  • Kit Cost: $1,630
  • Program Length: 5 months

At Mr. John’s School of Cosmetology, Esthetics, & Nails, you’ll learn the scientific concepts behind skin care and the treatment of skin disorders. You’ll also learn procedures such as facials, body wraps, and back treatments. The curriculum also incorporates business practices that you’ll need in the beauty industry. Mr. John’s school offers an internship option for students who would like to gain their practical experience in a different salon. The school also offers a scholarship opportunity.

New Age Spa Institute - Des Plaines


  • Tuition Cost: $10,900
  • Kit Cost: Included in tuition

At the New Age Spa Institute, class sizes are limited to twelve students, so you’ll be able to interact with instructors and receive personalized attention. With a 100% passing rate on the state board, New Age has proven to be extremely supportive of students working through the esthetician program. While learning skin care techniques, you’ll also learn business techniques and be able to pursue advanced certifications within the program for no additional fees. The school offers a scholarship opportunity and accepts VA benefits for veterans. New Age really wowed us with their policy that allows all students access to a lifetime discount on continuing education classes through the school.

The Paul Mitchell School - Tinley Park


  • Tuition Cost: $12,006
  • Kit Cost: $2,112
  • Program Length: 6 months

Located near Chicago, Paul Mitchell the School Tinley Park is an excellent choice if you’d like to have access to the metro area. You’ll be involved with Cook County charities through fundraisers held by the academy. While you learn and practice skin care techniques like facials, body wraps, and makeup application on clients, you’ll have the opportunity to give back to charity! The beautiful facilities showcase a classic black-and-white theme and provide students the opportunity to learn in a large salon space. The school also offers scholarship opportunities and accepts VA benefits.

Tricoci University of Beauty Culture - Bridgeview, Chicago, Elgin, Glendale Heights, Libertyville, Peoria, Rockford, Urbana


  • Tuition Cost: $13,184
  • Kit Cost: $2,050
  • Program Length: 6 months

Tricoci University of Beauty Culture seeks to educate its students through cutting-edge, modern methods. Most of your theory work will be completed digitally through an iPad, which you’ll receive in your esthetician kit. You’ll also watch videos, demonstrations, and participate in lectures to understand the disorders of skin, composition of makeup, and treatment of skin issues. The curriculum incorporates critical business strategies to help you succeed in the beauty industry. Offering eight locations, you’ll be able to choose the salon that’s right for you. Each facility offers a beautiful salon space and will allow you the opportunity to be involved in the community through fundraisers. You’ll also be able to pursue a scholarship through Tricoci University.

The University of Aesthetics & Cosmetology - Wicker Park & Downers Grove


  • Tuition Cost: $10,334
  • Kit Cost: $1,039
  • Program Length: 6 months

At the University of Aesthetics & Cosmetology, both campuses are beautifully maintained, with elegant chandeliers and soft, soothing colors. You’ll be able to choose a full-time or part-time schedule to complete your education, learning techniques like facials, body wraps, and waxing as well as business training.

University of Spa & Cosmetology Arts - Springfield


  • Tuition Cost: $8,875
  • Kit Cost: $900
  • Program Length: 6 months

Boasting a lower than average tuition and beautiful, well-maintained facilities, the University of Spa & Cosmetology Arts is an excellent place to pursue an esthetician education. USCA’s esthetician program includes courses in skin analysis, skin treatment, facials, application of cosmetics, body treatments and wraps, waxing, and the business knowledge necessary to a successful practice. USCA also offers scholarship opportunities and job placement services. At USCA, you’ll be actively engaged in the Springfield community through events, fundraisers, and field trips.

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