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How to Become a Beauty Therapist

With the beauty and hair industry booming, becoming a beauty therapist has become a more popular career choice than ever before. Becoming a beauty therapist allows a person to provide a variety of tre...

How to Become a Beauty Therapist

With the beauty and hair industry booming, becoming a beauty therapist has become a more popular career choice than ever before. Becoming a beauty therapist allows a person to provide a variety of treatments, without having to specialise in one area. 

This flexibility can be rewarding as you tailor your services to benefit your customers, such as providing hair removal services, manicures, facials, massage, hair colour, bridal hair and much more. This gives you more options in your profession and as a self-employed beautician, you have the opportunity of working according to your own hours. 

It is estimated that in 2018 alone, the hair and beauty industry made a £14.2 billion direct gross value-added contribution to the UK GDP, which is monumental considering that these statistics topped the manufacturing of motor vehicles and sports activities. Out of this, it is estimated that the UK’s two most popular services are hair and beauty treatments, with the latter contributing around £890 million to the GDP of beauty products and services during 2018. 

So, for those who are considering becoming a beauty therapist, this is incredibly great news as your services will almost certainly be in demand throughout the country.  

What subjects do you need to be a beautician? 

Depending on your career path and your learning style, there are many different routes you can take in order to become a qualified beauty therapist. Most commonly, those who wish to become fully qualified, choose to complete a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) in both levels 2 and 3 in Beauty Therapy. 

This qualification includes learning about reception duties in addition to treatment techniques. After completing the initial Level 2 qualification, there are multiple further courses that can be taken depending on the treatments you may wish to specialise in. We have compiled a guide to the most common routes to becoming a beauty therapist. This includes: 

  1. College Courses
  2. Private Courses
  3. Apprenticeship
  4. Further Education

College Courses

If you decide early on that the beauty and hair industry path is perfect for you, there are many colleges around the country that offer beauty therapy courses which can be ideal for building skills and experience that will help kick start your career. 

Most institutions offer a variety of courses, beginning from Level 1 in Hair & Beauty up to Level 3 in Hair & Beauty Therapy with both full and part-time options. For the duration of your studies, you will have the opportunity to work with specialist tutors in a real-life, hands-on environment to gain skills in everything from hair cutting, hair colouring, specialist massage to IPL hair and laser treatments. 

The entry requirements for each course entirely depends on the college you apply to. On average, in order to qualify for a Level 2 course, it is recommended to have an appropriate Level 1 qualification or 4 GCSEs at grade 3 or above including both in English and maths. Fees are determined by the institution you apply to. 

Private Courses 

If you would prefer to study towards your qualifications alongside those who have similar interests and goals, an independent private hair and beauty college might be perfect for you. Whilst many other public institutions may offer qualifications that provide you with a general overview of hair and beauty treatments, private colleges offer the ability to attain nationally recognised qualifications in more specialist areas. 

This can refer to standard hair and beauty therapy treatments, semi-permanent makeup and micropigmentation, massage, reflexology and complementary therapies, amongst numerous others. Attending private courses might be more costly, as you pay for each course you wish to take, such as intimate waxing, self-tanning provision and application of eyelash extensions. 


A beauty therapy apprenticeship can be an ideal option for those who are just beginning out in the sector and are looking to receive a formal qualification for their skills and knowledge. As with other qualifications, there are levels of apprenticeships which are equivalent to standard educational levels. For example, a Level 2 apprenticeship is equivalent to a GCSE, while Levels 4, 5, 6 and 7 are at foundation degree level or above. 

You can apply for a hair or beauty therapy apprenticeship if you are 16 or above and are not in full-time education. An intermediate level hair and beauty therapy apprentice might find themselves with a number of duties such as preparing beauty salon rooms and helping to keep the salon clean and tidy. Eventually, you will take on more responsibility, such as providing certain treatments. Upon completing an apprenticeship, you can expect to begin earning up to £18,000 per annum. 

Regardless of the route, you decide to take to become a Beauty therapist, it is important that you invest in an appropriate beauty therapy insurance policy to cover you while you are undertaking your studies. 

From the most experienced beautician to those just starting out, accidents can be inevitable. With the right insurance policy to protect yourself, you are covered for incidents that may occur to your client.

A Beautician’s Salary UK

The salary of a beautician can vary wildly depending on the area which you live in and the amount of experience you have. For those just beginning their career, yearly income can be between £12,000 to £17,000, which can be expected to gradually increase with time and experience. 

A beautician’s salary can be impacted by the location where they offer their services, for example, their earnings can be affected by factors such as the demand for therapists, their services and the size of the company that may join if this is the route they choose. For senior beauty therapists and other higher roles, you can expect to earn upwards of £20,000 per year. 

Knowing which route to take to become a beauty therapist can be a difficult decision to make. Follow our guide to help kickstart your beauty, hairdressing, nail, massage, barbering or lash technician career.

29th January 2020