How to become a Beauty Therapist. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about this career.
What does a Beauty Therapist do?
Beauty therapists, also known as beauticians, carry out facial and body treatments to enhance their clients’ appearance and improve their sense of well-being.
As a beauty therapist, you could provide a range of treatments, including:
- facials – cleansing, massaging and toning the skin
- application and advice on cosmetic make-up
- eyebrow shaping and eyelash colouring
- manicures, pedicures and other nail treatments such as extensions and nail art
- removal of unwanted facial and body hair by waxing, sugaring, threading (depilation) or electrolysis (epilation)
- electro-therapy treatments to improve body tone and shape
- non-surgical skin rejuvenation therapies
- UV (ultraviolet) and spray tanning.
You may offer other specialist treatments, such as massage, aromatherapy, hydrotherapy and reflexology.
As well as carrying out treatments, your day-to-day tasks would include:
- reception work, such as answering the telephone and receiving clients
- booking appointments
- checking and ordering supplies
- keeping notes of clients’ medical histories and treatment programmes.
You may occasionally need to refer clients to their doctor, for example, if they have a severe skin problem.
Your working hours would typically be 9am to 5pm, including Saturdays. Some salons offer evening appointments.
You could work in a high street salon or beauty clinic, health spa, hotel or on a cruise ship.
Alternatively, you could be self-employed, choosing either to work from home or visit clients in their own homes.
How much does a Beauty Therapist earn?
Salary and pay information:
- Beauty therapists typically earn between £16,000 and £19,000 a year.
- Salon managers can earn over £24,000 a year.
Beauty therapists also receive tips, and are usually paid commission on products they sell in the salon.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
To start work as a fully qualified beauty therapist you would need at least a level 3 qualification. New qualifications available from September 2010 include:
- NVQ Certificate/Diploma in Beauty Therapy at Level 3
- City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma in Beauty Therapy Techniques
- ITEC Level 3 Diploma in Advanced Beauty Therapy
- VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Beauty Therapy Treatments.
You can also complete CIBTAC and CIDESCO qualifications, which are internationally-recognised.
You can train through college courses or at private beauty schools (where the training may be shorter and more intensive). However, private courses are likely to be expensive, so it is important to check carefully that you will receive recognised qualifications. As entry requirements for courses can vary, you should ask individual providers for details.
As an alternative, you could start as an assistant or junior therapist by completing qualifications such as NVQ Certificate/Diploma in Beauty Therapy at levels 1 and 2 (available from September 2010), before progressing to a higher level.
Visit the Hairdressing and Beauty Industry Authority (HABIA) website for general information on qualifications in beauty therapy. Please note that HABIA do not provide courses and are not able to supply lists of course providers.
You may be able to get into this job through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. For more information on Apprenticeships, visit the Apprenticeships website.
Training and Development
You can add to your skills by completing courses in specialist areas such as epilation, ear piercing, waxing techniques and UV tanning. Courses leading to qualifications from awarding bodies such as ITEC, VTCT, City & Guilds and Edexcel are run at colleges and private beauty schools. Visit the websites of the awarding bodies for details.
Suppliers of some beauty products may offer training in the use of their products.
You can also take higher level qualifications, which would be useful if you want to progress to salon management, including BTEC HNDs and foundation degrees in subjects such as Beauty Therapy Management, Salon and Spa Management and Spa and Therapy Management.
Skills and Knowledge
- a friendly and welcoming manner
- the ability to put clients at ease
- tact, diplomacy and the ability to listen and communicate well
- the ability to explain procedures clearly to clients
- commercial awareness and the ability to sell products and earn commission
- a high standard of personal hygiene and grooming
- enough stamina to be on your feet for most of the day
- some knowledge of chemistry, anatomy and human biology,
- an artistic flair for applying nail art and make-up.
Vacancies are advertised in local or national newspapers, on the websites of employers such as spa, fitness and health, and leisure groups, and in specialist magazines such as Health & Beauty Salon, Professional Beauty and International Therapist.
You could also choose to become self-employed, owning your own salon, working from home or travelling to clients’ homes.
You could develop your career by training to offer a wider variety of treatments, or to move into fashion, theatre or media make-up. With experience, and possibly further training, you could progress to becoming a salon manager or move into training.