How To
Become A Beauty

How to Become a Beauty Therapist

If you have a passion for makeup and all things beauty, then becoming a Beauty Therapist can be the ideal way to develop your hobby and passions into a truly meaningful career.

Although interests in makeup and beauty are often considered as hobbies for many people, with the relevant qualifications and training, you could share your passions with clients, become a real expert in your trade and create a solid career. If you have the right desire and attitude, a job in the beauty industry is likely to give you a high level of job satisfaction, plenty of scope for career progression; and even perhaps the chance to work on TV or with celebrities!

With a variety of ways to break into the industry, it can seem unnerving knowing what route is best suited to you. We’ve put together this guide to help you to take that first step into a career in beauty.

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Training and Qualifications

While patience, people skills and knowledge of dermatology are must haves if you want to begin a career as a Beauty Therapist; academic qualifications are an important requirement to make sure you meet and uphold the UK’s standards for the industry. They will also increase the amount of money you can earn. There are many different courses and routes that can lead to gaining the necessary qualifications, these are:

NVQ Level 1, 2, or Level 3

A National Vocational Qualification is a work-based qualification in which you combine practical elements through on the job training with theory, which is usually delivered in a college setting. Courses can be in general beauty therapy, make-up, nail services as well as more specialist areas like spa therapy. You’ll also be required to demonstrate the skills you have learned and certain competencies to pass.

BTEC National Award Certificate or Diploma in Beauty Therapy Sciences

BTEC National Diplomas are great if you want to take the vocational industry route, like fashion beauty for example, and are highly valued by employers, colleges and universities. They’re often considered as A-Level equivalents for the fashion and beauty industry. They’re ideal if you want to remain in a college/sixth form setting but still want take some first steps towards a beauty career.

ITEC Level 2 (Junior) / Level 3 Diploma

The ITEC Diploma provides detailed understanding and skills for advanced beauty specialists including facial treatments, manicure/pedicure and waxing. This qualification can be a great option for those seeking employment abroad, such as in health spas or salons on cruise liners as they’re recognised in over 33 countries.

CIDESCO Diploma in Beauty Therapy

The CIDESCO diploma is often more commonly available at private beauty schools rather than in colleges. The cost for these is usually higher. The course includes a mix of practical and theoretical training as well as completing exams, including a facial examination, body examination, an extended project assignment and a written examination.

CIBTAC Nail Technician Diploma in Beauty Therapy

Like the CIDESCO course, the CIBTAC course is also more commonly available in private beauty schools. The CIBTAC Diploma is designed to develop professional therapists who are already salon ready. This can be the perfect option if you’re looking to work while travelling, as it is recognised in 22 countries worldwide.

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If you prefer to learn on the job as opposed to in the classroom and you don’t mind starting at the bottom and working your way up, then this could be the ideal route for you. You will learn by directly shadowing your expert colleagues and studying for an associated qualification, all while also earning a wage!

Apprenticeship Programs

Apprenticeships can be a great way to get that all important workplace experience and a successful apprenticeship can often lead to full-time employment upon completion, which can provide the ideal footing needed to start kick-start your career in beauty therapy!

Learning Approach

An apprenticeship focuses on learning from and alongside other experienced beauty specialists to facilitate your learning. You will quickly gain many key skills, which will benefit you throughout your career as well as tips for the industry from experienced colleagues. Apprenticeships involve working at least 30 hours a week, with an additional day at college to complete the classroom aspects.

Entry Requirements

Apprenticeships usually require you to be between 16-24 years of age and have a minimum of five GCSE’s at grades A* to C, including English and Maths.


You will be paid at the rate of the national minimum wage for apprentices, which is £4.81 per hour. You will also be entitled to at least 20 days paid holiday per year, plus bank holidays.

Essential Skills

If you are thinking about a career as a Beauty Therapist, then passion and drive for beauty and makeup is a must. However, as well as there being required qualifications to become a Beauty Therapist, there are also many essential key skills:

Friendly and relaxed

You should have excellent social skills are really love to work in customer facing environments. It is also important that you give off a relaxed persona in order to be able to put clients at ease and provide a positive experience during treatments.

Handle treatments with tact

Beauty Therapists have a duty to uphold the standards of their employers as well as respect the wishes of the client. Body image can be a very personal and sensitive issue and therefore customer discretion should be followed at all times.

Ability to upsell products and services

All businesses at some point has to manage finances, and this is no different in beauty therapy. If you are self-employed, you will need to be aware of how to run your finances effectively, or be prepared to hire an accountant to do this for you. The beauty industry really relies on good word of mouth and repeat business, and it likely that you may have to sell beauty products and further treatments to customers. Having a good understanding of how to sell and build customer loyalty is going to be a real bonus.


As you are likely to be dealing with many different people’s bodies each day and will often be very close to your client, hygiene standards are of the utmost importance. Before starting treatments, it is important that all of your equipment, as well as surfaces, are clean and again after the treatments so the room is ready for your next client. It is also necessary for your personal hygiene and uniform to be presentable and clean.

Willingness to learn

Having a positive attitude, desire and passion for the industry is particularly important in beauty therapy because so much is learnt from the people you work with and by observing what is happening around you. Because beauty therapy is a very personal service, you need to be quite intuitive to what needs to be done next and not wait to be asked, as those around you are likely to be busy attending to their clients. As new trends, treatments or products emerge and evolve, it is vital that you show a willingness to learn from and progress with the needs of these changes.

Job Opportunities

There are multiple pathways and opportunities open for Beauty Therapists across UK salons and in the leisure industry, as well as increasing opportunities to work for yourself. There are even opportunities to work abroad, with the increasing requirement for beauty therapy in holiday locations and cruise liners. The main opportunities and pathways are:


There are many beauty salons throughout the UK and across the world. The broad range of treatments available in these salons makes it an attractive, popular and versatile position for many Beauty Therapists. Some will want to employ you directly, whereas others will prefer a self-employed therapist, and with a range of full and part-time positions on offer, there is total flexibility on where and how you want to work.

Travel and Leisure

There has been a steady increase in demand for beauty treatments throughout the leisure industry and this includes holiday locations and cruise liners. Whether you just want to work seasonally or make a long-term career of it, it is a great opportunity to build your skills whilst travelling the world at the same time!

Working from home & Mobile beauty therapist

Working from home or mobile beauty therapy is becoming an increasingly popular career choice for many, as lots of clients struggle to find the time to visit a traditional salon either because of work, or perhaps because they have small children. If you can build up a regular and loyal client base who will recommend you to their friends and family, then you will be able to create a secure and lucrative income by working as a mobile therapist or from your own home. You’ll get the benefits of self-employment and choosing your own working hours, but you’ll also have to put in the time if you want to make good money and of course you’ll be responsible for generating all your bookings.

Renting a chair

Renting a chair in a salon is a further option which gives you the best of both worlds. Renting a chair allows for more visibility for your services through the salons existing client base but it does mean that you’ll have dedicate a portion of your sales to the salon. Renting a chair can also be a great step for those who want to be self-employed but need to build up a client base quickly and can’t afford to open their own salon.

Opening your own Salon

Opening a salon is no easy task, but running your own salon and business is the dream goal for most self-employed Beauty Therapists. There are many things to take into consideration before opening a salon, including location, products, interior design, pricing and staffing, so it is essential to work on a business plan first before jumping in with both feet. Another option could be to buy out an existing salon, as this would give you the opportunity to hit the ground running.

Entering the Industry

Taking your first steps into a career as a Beauty Therapist, like many other jobs , requires you to first write a CV, which will be an important tool for you to be able to sell yourself to potential employers.

Your CV should include the following elements:

  • Contact information
  • A Personal Statement
  • Education and qualifications
  • Relevant experience
  • Previous work history
  • References

Your CV should highlight the necessary skills required for a Beauty Therapist as potential employers will be actively looking for this when they review applicant CVs. It should also include a personal statement to introduce yourself, highlight your key achievements and demonstrate why you have a passion for Beauty Therapy. The aim is to convince the person reading your CV that you are a professional, confident individual with a real passion for the industry and they need to employ you now!

Your educational qualifications, achievements and any extracurricular activities demonstrate your commitment and willingness to learn. Having a portfolio of these qualifications and achievements allows you to support the statements made in your CV and gives you the opportunity to show these off and may distinguish you from other candidates. There are many short courses you can take in a variety of topics, so if you feel this aspect of your CV is letting you down, don’t worry, find a few courses to take that could give it a boost.

Additionally, it is important that you include details of your full employment history, as employers will usually check these. You should include your most recent position, employee contact details and a description of your job roles. If you don’t have an in-depth work history or if this is your first role, then highlighting any voluntary experience or part-time roles can be a good way to demonstrate your positive work ethic and make your application stand out from the crowd.

References are an important aspect of any CV as they are testimonials of you, and something a potential employer will consider carefully. This section should include the contact details of your referees. Referees should be one of your previous employers or someone who holds a senior position in the establishment and who is not related to you, such as teachers, tutors or police officers.

Most potential employers will request a covering letter to accompany your CV when applying for a position. This should introduce yourself and outline why you have a passion for the profession, as well as why you want to work for that organisation. This needs to be short, no more than half a page, but also be concise, and make the person reading want to continue onto your CV. If your CV and covering letter matches the job role and requirements, then the employer may invite you for an interview.

If you are lucky enough to secure an interview, make sure you take the time to prepare for it and don’t just wing it! Before the interview, try to research the company and practice your interview technique. It is also a good idea to research interview techniques and common interview questions, which means you can plan and practice your answers. During the interview, try and remain calm and be friendly, this is your chance to show of you and your personality!

Hours and Income

The average guideline starter salary for a Beauty Therapist in the UK ranges from £15,000 to £20,000. However, experienced Technicians can expect to earn a salary of over £20,000. You may also get the option of tips if working in a salon environment.

Full-time hours

Full-time working hours for a Beauty Therapist are usually 37-40 hours per week, with some evening and weekend work usually expected.

Part-time hours

Part-time positions are usually available in salons, so beauty therapy can be a means for an additional income alongside any other commitments or roles you might have.

Temporary Work Placements

Temporary work placements are also an option. These can be good for students, those new to the industry or people who require flexible work. Temporary placements can also lead to permanent positions.

Freelance Hours

When working as a freelance self-employed Beauty Therapist the hours will be dependent on your situation, client base, as well as demand. You can choose to do as many or as few hour as you like.

Trainee Income

Trainee incomes will be significantly smaller than the average starting wage of a qualified Beauty Therapist. However, you will be gaining important necessary skills and progression is fast.

Working Life

A Beauty Therapist will need to be focused on servicing the client and can communicate in an effective and friendly manner to create an environment in which the client will feel comfortable. You will also need to adapt to each client’s personal wants and needs. Clients will expect you to be aware of trends and styles, and to consult with them on this.

The day-to-day roles you will be expected to carry out are:

  • Giving facials by cleansing, massaging and toning the client’s skin
  • Providing makeovers for clients by both applying and advising on make-up
  • Shaping eyebrows and colouring eyelashes
  • Giving manicures, pedicures or other nail treatments such as extensions or nail art
  • Advising on and providing dermatological care and knowing its effects
  • Taking bookings from clients via telephone and in person
  • Ensuring stock and supplies are kept up to date and available

Essential Links

Hair and Beauty Industry Authority:
National Career Service:

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