A beautician, or beauty therapist is a skilled and trained professional that provides a range of face and body treatments to help their clients look good and feel their best. Most beauticians work in a salon, beauty clinic or spa and specialise in one area of beauty therapy. Some however, are trained to carry out a number of different treatments - from manicures to eyebrow treatments, to massage. Alternatively, there are many beauty therapists who are self-employed and operate as a mobile business. They visit clients in a location of their choice to provide treatments.
What types of beauty therapy jobs are there?
There are a number of beauty therapy jobs you can choose to take on, although this will depend on your qualifications and experience. During beauty training, you will have the opportunity to explore many types of beauty therapy. You can learn which services you most enjoy providing and would like to specialise in.
Most beauticians will be qualified to perform the following jobs:
- Body treatments - A range of non-invasive head to toe treatments, such as body masks, spray tanning, waxing, body scrubs and massage.
- Facial treatments - Hair removal such as waxing, as well as skincare treatments including facials, peels and moisturising treatments.
- Nail treatments - Manicures and pedicures.
- Make-up - Beauty therapies such as eyelash tinting and extensions, eyebrow shaping and tinting and professional make-up.
Other, beauty therapy jobs include permanent hair removal (electrolysis or laser treatment), bio sculpture gel, skin camouflage, threading and teeth whitening, to name a few. As a beautician you may also want to offer full professional make-over packages and specialised bridal beauty services.
What beauty therapist training is available?
Beauty training typically involves attending courses at a college or a private beauty school on a full time or part time basis. There is also the option of beauty therapy apprenticeships. This section will look into the minimum training standards required to practice as a beautician and the courses and beauty training options that you can choose from.
In order to practice as a beauty therapist, you will typically need to complete a beauty therapy qualification at level three for each speciality. Recognised qualifications that are accepted by most employers in the beauty industry include:
- NVQ diploma in Beauty Therapy - Levels 1, 2 and 3.
- BTEC in Beauty Therapy Sciences.
- The International Examining Board (ITEC) diploma in Beauty Therapy.
- Comite International d'Esthetique et de Cosmetologie (CIDESCO) diploma in Beauty Therapy.
- Confederation of International Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology (CIBTAC) diploma in Beauty Therapy.
These courses tend to cover all the beauty training basics, but many training organisations will offer supplementary courses for students who want to broaden their range of skills or specialise in a particular area of beauty therapy.
Beauty training courses are provided all over the UK by various organisations. Each course may differ in terms of quality of instruction and practical/theoretical elements, so make sure you do your research before applying. Some employers will prefer beauticians to be trained in using a particular brand of products.
Further education colleges offering beauty training tend to provide NVQ, BTEC and ITEC diploma courses. These can be taken on a full time or part time basis. The more expensive CIBTAC and CIDESCO courses tend to be offered at private beauty schools, and these can be completed over a shorter period of time.
Most beauty therapy courses are largely practical, with a small theoretical element. Scientific theory also forms a key part of training, as a beautician must know the basics of physiology, anatomy and dermatology before they can treat a client.
Find out more about courses and available training on our beauty courses and training schools page.
Beauty therapy apprenticeships
Most employers hire fully qualified beauty therapists, but a number of salons and beauty clinics will take on students to work as assistants while they train on the job. There are two types of beauty therapy apprenticeship:
- Intermediate level apprenticeship - Students can train in roles like junior therapist, beauty consultant or junior make-up artist.
- Advanced level apprenticeship - Students can train in roles like beauty therapist, make-up artist or a beauty massage therapist.
If you choose to do a beauty therapy apprenticeship, you will work closely with clients while assisting senior therapists in the salon. This provides an opportunity for you to learn the responsibilities a beauty therapist in the working environment, while receiving training on technical knowledge and skills needed to carry out various beauty treatments.
What about accreditation or registration?
In the UK, beauty therapy is unregulated, but there are some treatments that are subject to stricter regulation. These include:
- dermal fillers
- laser hair removal
- semi-permanent make-up
- teeth whitening.
These types of beauty treatments are more invasive and may be dangerous when carried out by an unqualified beautician. Teeth whitening is regulated by law; for the other potentially harmful treatments, there are professional bodies that have been set up to provide self-regulation.
The Beauty Guild and the British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology (BABTAC), for example, each have their own code of ethics and conduct to ensure beauticians uphold good standards of practice. Beauty therapists who are accredited with a professional body must hold a certain level of training in their chosen speciality and may be required to carry out continued professional development (CPD).
If you are looking to qualify in providing branded beauty therapy concepts such as HD Brows or LVL lashes, you will need to complete specialised training through their organisations directly.
What is a typical beauty therapist salary?
If you choose to work in a salon or beauty clinic, you will be paid a basic beauty therapist salary. This is typically between £12,000 and £17,000 a year. However, experience, qualifications, location, and the type and range of treatments offered can affect how much a beautician earns.
For example, salon managers and senior beauticians offering specialised beauty therapies can earn a salary of over £20,000 a year. Mobile beauticians on the other hand will earn a salary based on their number of clients. Commission earned from selling beauty products in salons or beauty clinics can also help boost a beauty therapist salary, as can tips from clients, which may be provided for good service.
The working hours of a beauty therapist can vary, depending on factors such as client availability and the working environment. If you choose to work in a salon or beauty clinic, your working hours will typically be 9am to 5pm, including Saturdays. Some salons open on Sundays and many offer evening appointments. Mobile beauticians tend to work later on in the day and at weekends to suit the hours of working clients.
What personal qualities are needed to be a beautician?
- As well as excellent people skills, a beautician will be understanding and a good listener - able to respond effectively to client needs.
- Teamwork is an essential part of working in a salon or beauty clinic environment.
- A beautician must inspire confidence in their clients and help them to feel and look good.
- Patience, politeness and tactfulness are also important for building a good rapport with clients.
Business and commercial skills
As well as being fully qualified to carry out certain beauty therapies, beauticians must possess a range of business and commercial skills to be successful in the industry. Having an extensive skill set covering aspects of marketing, customer service, and finance will add to your versatility as a beauty therapist.
Additional skills include:
- Organisational and time management skills - Being punctual and using a booking system effectively is an important part of the role.
- Knowledge of hygiene regulations - You will need to be aware of beauty industry standards when it comes to client care and environmental hygiene.
- Good understanding of skincare - You need to be knowledgeable of how to look after the skin, hands and feet. This can help you advise clients on products and beauty techniques that will suit their lifestyle, skin type, colouring and age.
- Strong sales skills - Commission on products you sell in the salon can boost your earnings.
- Good knowledge of make-up and beauty products - Your knowledge will help to build a good rapport with clients and may help your sales.
- A good understanding of the body and how it works - Particularly the skin, hair and nails.
- Financial skills - Mobile beauticians in particular need to be efficient at keeping financial records. This is a legal requirement but will also help to ensure the smooth running of a beauty business.
- Marketing skills - Building a strong client base requires marketing your beauty business and advertising your services effectively.
If you are looking to work as a self-employed beautician or want to set up your own beauty business, there are numerous publications and resources that can help you learn the basics and get your business off the ground. Visit the business section in your local library, a career advisor at your local Jobcentre Plus or research online to see what free help is available on the Internet.
What is CPD?
Continued Professional Development (CPD) is the process of tracking and documenting any skills gained or learned in addition to basic beauty training - designed to keep beauticians up to date with the latest techniques, rules and regulations. CPD allows you to manage your own learning and growth in the industry. If you register with a professional body it is likely that you will have to take CPD courses on a regular basis to show you can maintain high standards of practice.
The types of qualifications a beautician can take as part of their CPD include:
- City & Guilds Level 2/3 (NVQ) Diploma in Beauty Therapy (areas of training include make-up, nail services, general and spa therapy).
- Edexcel Level 2/3 (NVQ) Diploma in Beauty Therapy (areas of training included general, make-up and massage).
- ITEC Level 3 Diploma in Advanced Beauty Therapy.
You can find and sign up to CPD beauty training courses by visiting professional body websites.
What legal issues do I need to consider?
Whether you are looking to become self-employed, start your own beauty business or work in a salon or beauty clinic, there are several legal issues to consider.
Arranging appropriate beauty therapist insurance cover is particularly important. You will need to apply for public liability and professional indemnity insurance, which will protect your legal liability should a client make a claim. This cover will need to be extended to your employees if you set up your own business and hire staff. Professional treatment risk insurance may also be required.
It can be worthwhile spending time familiarising yourself with the different types of beauty therapist insurance and shop around for the best deals. Some professional bodies offer insurance packages to members, such as the British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology (BABTAC). There are also a number of insurance providers that offer specialist coverage.
If you are looking to work as a self-employed beauty therapist or want to start your own business, you will also need to consider legal requirements such as your tax and VAT duties, and what needs to be done under the PAYE system.
Do I need to have my own premises?
If you choose to work as a self-employed beautician, you do not have to worry about having your own premises. You can run your business from home, or go to clients to provide a treatment. If you intend to run your beauty therapy business from home, make sure you tell your landlord or mortgage company so you can check this is allowed under the terms of the mortgage or tenancy agreement. You will also need to contact your local authority to find out whether a 'change of use' planning permission is needed to run a business from home. It is also important to get the right insurance cover for your home and business purposes.
If you intend to visit clients to provide beauty treatments, you will need to get a license from your local authority for every borough that you intend to work in. Each council has their own type of licensing policy, and while some may charge a small fee for authorisation, others may offer it for free. Get in touch with your local authority for more details.