If you’re sick and tired of the long and arduous hours you work as a nurse or you just want a non-bedside nursing job, you might want to consider cosmetic nursing.

The cosmetic surgery industry is worth multiple billions of dollars and offers nurses and other health industry professionals a great way to enter a new career.

But the real question is: how to become a cosmetic nurse?

*Disclosure: This article on becoming a cosmetic nurse may contain affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. For more info, please see my disclaimer.

What’s a Cosmetic Nurse? 

Plastic surgery and other aesthetic procedures have grown exponentially in recent years.

In 2016 alone, people in the United States spent 16 billion dollars on a range of cosmetic procedures.

That includes a diversity of procedures, from breast surgery to tummy tucks.

A cosmetic, (or aesthetic nurse, or plastic surgery nurse) works in this industry and provides support to cosmetic surgeons and physicians. They are usually registered nurses or nurse practitioners who are experts in performing a wide range of aesthetic procedures, such as Botox treatments, dermal fillers, laser tattoo removals, and so on.

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How to Become a Cosmetic Nurse

If you have a specific interest in becoming a cosmetic nursing professional, there are some steps you need to take:

1. Earn Your Degree

If you don’t have a degree in nursing already, you need to complete a bachelor of science in nursing degree at an appropriate educational institution.

This will start you on your journey to become a cosmetic nurse as it will give you all of the fundamentals.

Pro Tip:
Some may decide to get their masters of science in nursing degree and become a nurse practitioner. It’s not a must to get into aesthetic nursing but it may help.

2. Become a Registered Nurse – or RN

Once you graduate from nursing school, you need to pass the RN licensure exam called the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse).

Passing the NCLEX-RN will get your RN licensure and allow you to practice as a registered nurse.

The benefit of this is that you can now do further training in cosmetic nursing.

Pro Tip:
Nurse practitioners or NPs will have their own board exam that they’ll need to pass.

Related Article: How to Become a Registered Nurse

3. Train as a Cosmetic Nurse

Once you’re an RN you can start training to become a cosmetic nurse.

This process involves doing a range of courses.

These courses may be as little as a single weekend in duration. They include courses on Botox treatments, laser treatments, and so on.

4. Get Some Practical Experience

Even when you have done all of the courses needed to become a cosmetic nurse, you need to do at least two years of practical experience before qualifying to practice.

Typically, this means working alongside another cosmetic nurse. 

Education Requirements and Certifications Needed

Cosmetic Nursing can be a rewarding career choice, but it’s necessary to have the right qualifications to practice.

You need to be a registered nurse, first and foremost.

After this, you need to have done all of the necessary training courses and have completed the minimum two-year practical experience.

Pro Tip:
You can get credentialed as a Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist (CANS) or a Certified Plastic Surgical Nurse (CPSN) by the Plastic Surgical Nursing Certification Board (PSNCB).

Where Do Cosmetic Nurses Work? 

Cosmetic nursing is a highly diverse career and many people find it a rewarding career choice.

Indeed, most non-nurses imagine that all nurses work in hospitals, but this is certainly not the case. 

When it comes to cosmetic nurses, they typically work in a clinical setting or alongside plastic surgeons in hospitals.

There are also many independent aesthetic clinics that specialize in plastic surgery, such as breast augmentation, or in other areas, such as dermal injections or Botox treatments. 

A cosmetic nurse may also work in some type of outpatient capacity, such as a surgery center.

Medical spas are also very popular these days.

As a cosmetic nurse, you can expect to work in any of these environments.

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Duties of Cosmetic Nurses

A video that gives you day in the life look at one of the areas you could work as a cosmetic nurse.

The day-to-day duties of cosmetic nurses can be highly diverse, but here are some common responsibilities:

1. Client Consultations

This is one of the most important aspects of working as a cosmetic nurse.

Nurses always work closely with patients in hospital or clinical settings, but cosmetic nurses will need to develop a good rapport with all of their clients.

A detailed discussion with a client may include any and all of the following:

  • How the client feels about the treatment and what they really want to achieve.
  • How many treatments or procedures will be needed to create the desired result.
  • The possible limitations of treatment and what to expect in terms of recovery.
  • What side effects there are related to the specific treatment or procedure required.

2. Creating Treatment Plans

For many aesthetic treatments, such as laser hair removal, there will be multiple sessions required.

As a cosmetic nurse, you’ll discuss this and you will draw up a treatment plan.

3. Perform Treatments

Many treatments, such as dermal fillers or Botox, can be performed by an experienced cosmetic nurse.

You’ll be expected to perform the treatments necessary or work closely with a surgeon or other clinician who can do so.

4. Assessment and Advice

After performing the treatment, you’ll need to assess how the treatment progressed.

This will involve talking to the patient and assessing the initial outcomes.

You’ll then need to provide the right advice to the patient about how to take care of their skin in the case of dermal cosmetic treatments.

This may also involve advice on taking painkillers and what to do during recovery.

5. Maintaining Sanitation

It’s incumbent upon every nurse in any field to maintain good hygiene and sanitation.

This is no different for a cosmetic nurse.

Surgical environments need to be sterilized and tools and equipment need to be sterilized.

A cosmetic nurse must also work in accordance with disease and infection control procedures at all times.

6. Dealing with Emergency Situations

Cosmetic nurses will always monitor a client during a procedure and sometimes there may be an emergency scenario that arises.

This could be an adverse reaction to a procedure or bleeding that is difficult to control.

It may even be a patient with a heart condition who experiences cardiac symptoms. 

In all such cases, a cosmetic nurse will need to carefully monitor the condition of a patient and react accordingly.

Salaries and Employment Stats

Cosmetic nurses typically work full-time or part-time roles.

In terms of salaries for cosmetic nurses, this can vary on a state-to-state basis.

Typically, the average salary for a cosmetic nurse is in the region of $90,000 per year.

Variables include state of operation, how long the nurse has been employed, level of education, and employer.

Why Become a Cosmetic Nurse?

Aesthetic surgery is a rapidly growing sector and many nurses find that it is a very lucrative area to work in.

This is certainly one of the major draw-cards. 

Many nurses work long and arduous hours doing shift work.

As rewarding as the career can be, many nurses find that they eventually grow tired of the long hours and shift work. 

In this context, cosmetic nursing provides an opportunity to work in a health industry that is growing quickly, paying well, and does not require the same arduous shifts. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the eligibility requirements for Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist (CANS)?

  • Current licensure as a registered nurse is required.
  • At least 1,000 hours spent in the last 2 years in the specialty you’re wanting to go into.
  • Be endorsed by a licensed physician.

You can find the rest of the eligibility requirements on the PSNCB website.

2. What are the eligibility requirements for Certified Plastic Surgical Nurse (CPSN)?

  • Current licensure as a registered nurse.
  • Minimum of 2 years of plastic surgical nursing experience in any of these capacities:
    • Staff (General or Administrative)
    • Education
    • Research
  • At least 1,000 hours of plastic surgical nursing experience in at least 2 of the past 3 years.
  • Your application needs to be endorsed by a licensed board-certified plastic surgeon.

You can find the rest of the eligibility requirements on the PSNCB website.

3. Do I need to become an aesthetician to become a cosmetic nurse?

No, you don’t. You can become a cosmetic nurse by getting your registered nurse licensure.

4. Can I work independently as a cosmetic nurse?

No, usually you need to be under a physician licensure. Each state is different so you need to check what your state’s regulation is on cosmetic nurse independent practice.


The question of how to become a cosmetic nurse is about following some simple steps:

  • Going to nursing school for your bachelors of science in nursing.
  • Passing the board exam.
  • Doing the necessary training and getting 1,000 hours or two years of practical experience.

This will create a rewarding career that is lucrative, diverse, and rewarding.

Not least of all, typically you’ll be on a normal work schedule (i.e. not shift work).

If you already have your RN license you can start applying to Cosmetic Nursing jobs TODAY.

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