Business Insurance

Want To Become A Beautician?

Here is a quick, in-depth guide with all you need to know to become a beautician, including training and insurance requirements and where to get a job.

Beauty treatments are something most of us like to indulge in to some degree, whether as self care or general maintenance. In recent years, the beauty industry has grown exponentially and is now worth £28.4bn to the UK economy. So if you have a passion for beauty, a career in this field is definitely worth considering.

As a beautician, you’ll be expected to perform a wide range of treatments on your clients. But in order to do so, you’ll need to get qualified first. This will ensure you’re fully prepared for the industry and can carry out treatments safely and effectively on your clients. With a salary expectation of £15,000-£20,000 a year, with more to be earned for managerial roles or salon owners, beauty is a career with plenty of potential.

If you are thinking of becoming a self-employed beauty therapist, here is what the process looks like.

How Do You Become A Beautician?

Official training is required to become a beauty therapist, with various beauty schools and colleges offering courses across the country. On your course, your tutors will teach you everything you need to know about all aspects of beauty, including practical and theory work. Typically, courses take 2 years to complete. However, fast track courses do exist and would be suitable for those with prior experience of the industry.

As well as being fully qualified, employers are going to look for applicants with a professional, upbeat attitude. You’ll need to be able to work well independently as part of a team, especially if you want to work in a beauty salon environment. Self-employed opportunities also exist for beauticians, offering flexibility for those who cannot commit to a full time job.

What Services Do Beauticians Perform?

  • Aromatherapy
  • Body treatments
  • Eyebrow shaping and tinting
  • Eyelash lifting and tinting
  • Facials
  • Makeup application
  • Massage
  • Manicures
  • Nail art
  • Non-surgical treatments
  • Pedicures
  • Tanning
  • Threading
  • Waxing

Personal Qualities Needed To Become A Beautician

Beauticians must love working with the public and be able to build a great relationship with their clients. This includes making sure clients feel at ease, especially if they are seeking treatment for something they feel embarrassed about.

Some treatments (especially waxing) can be painful or uncomfortable, so you must be someone who can be reassuring, causing your client as little discomfort as is possible within your technique.

A keen eye for detail is also required, as not only do you need to ensure the job you are doing is thorough, but that your client isn’t having any adverse reactions to a product either. So, beauticians need to have their eye on the ball and be committed to giving a great experience.

You’re also going to need to be someone who keeps up with the latest trends and technologies in beauty. As an example, the way eyebrow treatments are carried out has changed dramatically since the 90s when brows were typically overplucked. Now, they are made as full as possible with a noticeable arch. Clients will expect current knowledge in all disciplines of beauty that you offer to them, so you need to have a genuine interest in beauty.

Where To Get Training To Become A Beautician

The place you choose to train to become a beautician depends on your previous expertise and what you want to specialise in. On a general level, most people head to a vocational college that offers hair and beauty courses.

However, it’s also possible to qualify at specialist beauty colleges, such as the London College of Beauty Therapy. Such venues have the advantage of having excellent connections with beauty brands who may oversee certain aspects of your training. Plus, you’ll be with likeminded people too.

Filler Training

Fillers have become extremely popular in recent years thanks to celebrity appeal, with the likes of Kylie Jenner being a notable example. As a result, people are having fillers and botox administered at beauty salons.

It’s possible to administer filler injections to your clients as a non-medical professional. Though, this requires accredited training, such as a course in Advanced Basic Dermal Fillers, at a cost of £2,500.

It’s worth noting that only certain types of fillers can be given if you don’t have medical training. So it’s something to consider if you want to focus solely on fillers and injectables, rather than beauty therapy as a whole.

Work Experience

Beauty isn’t something that can be taught exclusively in the classroom, so you’ll need to get plenty of hands-on experience. Certain training courses such as apprenticeships will allow you to do this, but even still any additional experience you can get will be of benefit.

As well as assisting in salons, it’s also possible to get part-time work on a beauty counter. There are beauty agencies such as Flair which will give you experience working for various skincare, makeup and fragrance companies, without having to have prior training. It will also look great on your CV.

In between formal training, you should look for opportunities to practice your skills. This could be on friends or family, or you may be able to pick up work in a beauty salon. You could also try asking to assist on photoshoots or fashion campaigns. Every bit of experience is going to help you become a knowledgeable beautician.

What Qualifications Do You Need To Be A Beautician?

As with any job that involves working on people’s faces and bodies, you’ll need to go through a recognised training process. The options for training to be a beautician are quite varied, meaning the industry is accessible regardless of where you are starting from.

Here’s an overview of the main routes that beauticians go down to qualify:

NVQ Beauty Level 1-3

Requirements: 2 GCSEs A-D for Level 2, 4 GCSEs A-C for Level 3.

A popular option to qualify as a beauty therapist is to take an NVQ course. Level 1 is considered a foundation level that will help you explore the industry in greater detail.

Level 2 and Level 3 are the main options to go for, as these cover practical skills that will be needed to work in beauty. For example, waxing, nails, massage and similar practices. You’ll also learn about the theory behind each treatment, such as the bones, nerves and muscles in the face for when you perform facials on clients.

There is the option to stick to Level 2 only, though this won’t offer as many career options as if you complete Level 3.

VCTC Beauty Therapy

Requirements: Variable

VCTC (Vocational Training Charitable Trust) offers an alternative to NVQ qualifications in addition to them. Available to learners from age 13, there are various beauty courses you can take that are split into awards and diplomas.

With a VCTC qualification, you can either do general hair and beauty, or specialist in areas such as massage, nail art, body art, waxing and more. This makes it an ideal option if you wish to specialise in a particular area of beauty or simply brush up your skills.


Requirements: 5 GCSEs (A-C)

Various companies offer apprenticeships in beauty therapy, which can be one of the best ways to get your foot in the door. The best part of apprenticeships is that you get paid to learn, plus you’ll get real-life experience working in a beauty salon. As beauty is hands on, such experience is vital if you want to progress your career.

Short Courses

It’s possible to take short courses in beauty, at places such as The Beauty Academy, with prices ranging between £199 and £999. Here you can specialise in key areas of beauty that traditional courses may not feature, such as Russian volume lashes or microdermabrasion.

Some short courses are ideal for complete beginners, whereas others will require you to have had previous training in beauty.

Short courses are ideal if you plan on becoming a self-employed beauty therapist, especially as many of the areas covered can be quite lucrative. For example, training in intimate waxing in addition to a previous warm waxing qualification could see you earn £50 an hour, with the course itself only costing £199.

Do I Need Insurance To Work As A Beautician?

If you are an employee working within a beauty salon, then you will be covered under the insurance of the company. However, if you plan on being self-employed (including opening your own salon) you’ll need insurance.

Even if you do everything by the book, accidents can still happen which is why you must get liability insurance. You’ll also need to get insurance for your stock, business use car insurance (if applicable), and legal expenses insurance. It might seem like a lot to wrap your head around, but getting covered will ensure your business is protected should a client take legal action against you.

Where Can I Work As A Beautician?

One of the perks of the beauty industry is that it exists in many different formats. Most commonly, beauty salons are where people head for treatments. As most towns and cities have a generous number of beauty salons, you can be sure to find work in such locations.

Beauticians also work in spas, as well as in hotels and even on cruise ships. If you work for a hospitality chain, then this could see you working across the world if you are transferred to another location.

If you choose to become a self-employed beautician, then you could set up your own salon at home or on the high street. This option would give you the flexibility to get into film and TV work, as well as photoshoots. Self-employed beauticians can also be mobile working in clients homes, which will command a higher rate of pay.

What Does It Cost To Become A Beautician?

It’s possible to find beauty courses for free, especially if you are between the ages of 16-18. There are also government schemes available for those who are unemployed offering free training, including for beauty. This includes some beauty schools, who will offer subsidised courses for school leavers or the unemployed.

Aside from these instances, you should expect to pay around £3,500 for a beauty therapy course. Additional training may be required throughout your career, especially if you plan to specialise in a particular area of beauty. If you’re employed, such training may be paid for by your employer. Otherwise, expect to pay between £200 and £1,000 for short courses.

What Equipment Does A Beautician Need?

The equipment you need will differ depending on if you only specialise in one area of beauty, plus whether you own your own beauty salon, or if you’re employed. Here is a general overview of some of the materials you may need:

  • Skincare products. Makeup remover, cleanser, exfoliator, toner, serum, moisturiser, eye cream, masks, face cloths and accessories
  • Eyes. Lash tint, lash lift solution, eyebrow tint
  • Room equipment. Adjustable bed, chair, storage, stool, towels, ambient lighting, sound system, shower (if applicable).
  • Massage. Massage oil, lava shells, bamboo, paper towels
  • Nails. Gel/shellac/regular nail polish, nail curing machine, nail polish remover, nail file, nail clippers, cuticle oil.
  • Makeup. Foundation (shades to suit all skin tones), eyeshadow, lipstick, eye pencil, lip pencil, blusher, bronzer, contour, setting spray, primer.
  • Hair removal. Pure wax, strip wax, wax heater, spatula, aftercare location, wipes, eyebrow thread, tweezers, scissors, antibacterial solution.
  • Tanning. Tanning lotion or spray tan machine, protective accessories
  • Personal. Uniform, clip-on watch, flat shoes, hair tie, water bottle.

Where Can I Find Beautician Supplies For My Business?

Most beauty brands offer trade deals to beauty salons or mobile beauticians, which will help you save on running costs. Plus, it will ensure the products you are using are industry-standard which your clients will expect.

You can find big names including Dermalogica, Clarins and Decleor who will supply products for use within beauty salons. You’ll also get a commission if you can sell any of their products to your clients after a treatment.

There are also beauty wholesalers such as Sally Beauty, who supply a variety of hair and beauty products for professional use.

Should I Become A Beautician?

As the saying goes, ‘Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.’ So if you love all things beauty, choosing it as a career option is a sensible choice.

Being a beautician offers plenty of variety, as you’ll get to work with lots of different clients. No two days will be the same, especially with the wide selection of treatments available at any given salon. You can also choose to specialise in a particular area that you enjoy the most such as waxing or nails.

You’ll also have a lot of choice with the locations you work at, seen as beauty is a global industry. You could work in a local beauty salon or decide to travel the world. Not many jobs offer such potential, especially with the relatively short training time involved in becoming a beautician. As an example, it’s not uncommon for people to qualify in NVQ Level 3 beauty at 19 and go straight to work on a cruise ship in the Caribbean.

So long as you have a passion for beauty and a drive to succeed, it can offer you a long and happy career.

Is Being A Beautician Hard?

It’s fair to say that every job has difficult aspects. In the beauty industry, you do need resilience as you’ll be dealing with clients all day. If you don’t have previous experience in working with the public, this can be a huge adjustment. After all, the client is paying a lot of money, and they expect great work from you. So, you definitely have to have patience and tolerance.

Being a beautician is also physically demanding, as you’ll be on your feet for most of the time. When giving massages, you’ll be required to apply plenty of pressure which could cause aches and pains over time. That’s why it’s important to invest back into yourself through stretching, exercises and of course, plenty of beauty treatments!

To Sum Up

With the demand for beauty ever growing, becoming a beautician offers plenty of job opportunities. The best way to get into the industry is to take a training course such as an NVQ, which will give you plenty of practical experience, and allow you to demonstrate your skills on real life clients.

The starting salary for beauticians is on the lower side, but this does increase with experience. Most beautician courses also teach salon management as well as the business side of beauty. This gives you the option to eventually open your own salon or become self-employed, which would earn you more versus being an employee.

Ultimately, if you live and breathe beauty then working in the industry is the best way to fulfil your passion. You’ll get to meet new people, travel and have plenty of fun on the job.

Rachael O'Flaherty

Rachael O’Flaherty is a freelance writer who graduated from Teesside University in 2012. Her background is in digital marketing and journalism, with a particular interest in money saving hacks. For more information, see Rachael's Linked In profile.