The Breakdown of Qualifications Needed to Work in the Beauty Trade (39).jpg

When it comes to gaining qualifications it really depends on which route you are looking to go down within the beauty industry.

Within the beauty industry there are many different courses available to us, however, the most important thing to find out when researching a new training course is which one is best suited to us and whether or not the course is accredited. To be accepted for insurance purposes all courses that you take must be accredited otherwise you will be uninsurable. By taking an accredited course, that course has met the recognised standards and has been given the seal of approval by the governing company. This does not mean to say that all non-accredited courses are rendered useless to us. Something that is becoming ever so more popular within the beauty industry are mentoring programs.

Mentoring programs could be as an example, where someone has trained in an area of the industry a few years ago and wants to pick it back up after not doing it for a long time. Now having not performed the treatment for a while that therapist may choose to visit another trainer within the in industry to pick up some new tips or tricks of the trade. Now as the therapist is already qualified in the treatment, the course or mentoring session does not need to be accredited, however, any NEW qualifications obtained would need to be.

Any mentoring or educating needs to be carried out by someone with a level 3 teaching qualification and that also holds a teaching insurance.

Here are some guidelines for which qualifications you would need for each part of our industry;

Working from home/mobile or in a Beauty Salon as a fully qualified Beauty Therapist:

Whether you are wanting to work from home, mobile or in a beauty salon if you wish to be a fully qualified Beauty Therapist then you will require a minimum of a Level 2 Diploma in Beauty Therapy or equivalent. These qualifications can be in the form of an NVQ, VTCT, BTEC, CITY & GUILDS and BABTAC as a few examples. With your level 2 training it should roughly cover, General health and safety, Anatomy and physiology, Waxing, Eye treatments such as tinting and perming, Hands on classic facials and facial massage, A basic understanding of make-up application, manual fake tan application, Manicures & Pedicures, some also include eyelash extensions or gel manicures depending on where you train and who with.

Although Level 2 can get your foot in the door with some beauty salons, for most full-time positions you would be required to hold a Level 3 Diploma in Beauty Therapy. A level 3 diploma is taken after successful completion of the Level 2 diploma and goes on to include, Swedish Body Massage, Electrical body treatments such as Vacuum suction, G5 massage, Micro-current and Faradic Body treatments, Electrical Facials such as Galvanic, Iontophoresis, Faradic and Micro-current (some level 3 include basic Aromatherapy, Intimate waxing, Microdermabrasion and Electrolysis as well).

Being level 3 qualified will open more windows to you as a therapist as your future employer will not need to invest a lot of money or time into getting you trained up and you will be more likely to go into the salon in a higher position rather than as a junior.

By having your level 2/3 Diploma it also opens up many more courses for advanced training as it gives you a lot of the prerequisite requirements for most advanced courses.

Some people opt to take each individual module one at a time like taking a waxing course, then a massage course etc. There is nothing wrong with gaining your qualifications this way, module by module, however, it will be a lot more time consuming and costly to you as an individual, so by taking your Level 2 or 3 in one hit it is definitely the best step forward if you wish to become a fully qualified Beauty Therapist.

Becoming a Specialist in one area:

Specialist roles could be: Waxing Specialist, Nail technician, Lash artist, Masseuse, Laser Technician, Make-up artist, Reflexologist, Facialist, Aromatherapist & Spray tan technician as a few examples and they are whereby the therapist only offers these individual services.

If you know that being an all-around beauty therapist is not for you then there are other options available to us. There are individual courses or modules and most of these individual courses do not have any prerequisite requirements as they cover everything needed to obtain the qualification. For an example if you wanted to become a nail technician you would need to gain your manicure and pedicure qualification first and then move on to your Gel or Acrylic course, these would be two individual courses that could each be a day long. After gaining your main qualifications as a nail technician you could then go on to further advanced courses such as nail art and design to build your knowledge and skills further. If a nail technician is an area you wish to specialise in then there would be no need for you to complete your whole Level 2 or 3 qualifications as the other modules covered would be a waste of your time or not used. Some individual courses can be completed in the form of a day course, if this is the case then you would normally be required to complete a certain amount of case studies in your own time before successful completion and your qualification is gained.

If you chose to do a day course then you must make sure that your trainer is fully qualified to teach at a level 3 or equivalent and is fully accredited by a recognised company that an insurance company or policy would accept. Day courses are not always run by a college or an academy and are quite often ran by individual trainers in salon environments or who work from home. It's a good idea to always check future trainers reviews on their social media or google reviews to see their latest feedback.


Becoming an apprentice is another way to gain your qualifications whilst working and earning a wage. Apprenticeships are available to people over the age of 16 and it is a program whereby you combine working with studying to gain skills and knowledge within a specific role. Apprentices can be new or current employees and companies or business owners can get government funding in the UK to cover some of the cost of training and assessing an apprentice. Working as an apprentice you would be paid at least minimum wage and an apprentice must work with experienced staff, learn job-specific skills and study during their working week at a college or a training organisation.

Level 4

Level 4 is a relatively new qualification within the beauty industry but is now regarded as the highest level. In order to be able to take the diploma in advanced beauty therapy level 4 course, you need to have a minimum of a level 2 and 3 diploma already. The level 4 qualification is designed to prepare you to gain employment as an ADVANCED or SENIOR therapist, as the units covered cover all the skills and knowledge required for this role. Advanced techniques that would be covered under this qualification are Laser and light treatments for hair removal and skin rejuvenation, microdermabrasion techniques, knowledge and understanding of dermatology, microbiology and the physiology of ageing. Areas also covered are safety and security in the salon, quality management of client care and salon management. You can also further your knowledge within this qualification in areas such as research, IT and data handling, marketing, cultural, social and technological influences on health and beauty related industries and public relations in the hair and beauty sector.

Becoming a trainer or educator

If you are looking to take that step forward to become a trainer within the beauty industry the minimum qualification you would need is a level 3 award in education and training (L3AET) / PTTLS course plus 2 years minimum knowledge within your specific subject. Once you have gained your level 3 teaching qualification you can then either look to apply to colleges or training companies to work for or alternatively you can look into designing your own courses.

If designing your own courses is the route you would be looking to go down then you would need to write your own manuals for your chosen subject from start to finish and then send them off along with your course outlines and prerequisite requirements to an accrediting company for them to fully accredit and sign off your course. Once your course is accredited and you have the correct teaching insurances in place then you are able to start teaching.

Teacher training courses can be taken online or in a college setting.

Whichever part of the beauty industry you are looking to venture into doing your research on which qualifications you will need and the best route to go down in order to reach your goals and to be insurable.