How to Become a Beauty Therapist

Beauty Therapist
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Beauty therapy is an exciting and rewarding career, and is one that doesn’t feel like you’re actually going to work! Instead of the hard pressure that’s associated with office work, you’re devoting your time to making others feel relaxed and giving them a boost of confidence with tailor-made treatments. 

From makeup to skincare and hair removal to reflexology, the world of beauty is wide, allowing you the opportunity to find your niche. What’s more, you can choose to specialise in a particular area and turn your hobby into a fulfilling career.

So, if you’re intrigued and want to find out how to develop a career in beauty therapy, continue reading our in-depth guide below.

1. Research the Profession

To make sure that this creative path is right for you, you’ll need a clear understanding of what the job entails, the kind of salary you can expect and what your working environment will be like, as outlined below.

Job Description

Beauty therapists work with esthetics and skincare to help relieve a client’s concerns and make sure they leave feeling their best. They are typically found in a salon setting, providing unique treatments and excellent customer service

The job duties of a beautician don’t vary too much from salon to salon and typically involves the following:

  • greeting customers and providing them with a drink while they wait
  • answering telephones, arranging appointments and handling payments
  • providing bespoke facials in line with the client's skin concerns and needs
  • giving non-surgical treatments including anti-aging and fat removal cures
  • providing hair removal through laser or waxing
  • shaping and tinting eyebrows
  • offering spray tans or UV ray beds
  • semi-permanent makeup and makeup application for special occasions
  • giving manicures and pedicures including gel and acrylic
  • lash enhancement including lash lifting and lash extensions
  • giving tailor-made skincare routines and establishing treatment plans for clients
  • ordering supplies and other necessities for the salon
  • maintaining relationships with clients.

Essential Skills and Qualities

It takes a special kind of person to work with many different people and personalities on a daily basis, as well as carrying out the same treatments day in and day out. Therefore as well as passion, it’s essential that anyone aspiring to become a beauty therapist also has the following skills and qualities:

  • great communication and interpersonal skills, ensuring that your client feels relaxed
  • the ability to understand a client’s needs and to provide a service that meets their expectations
  • the ability to sell products that will benefit your client without coming across as pushy or forceful
  • the tact to handle sensitive client requirements professionally
  • trustworthiness to ensure that a client’s treatment plan is kept between just the two of you
  • passion for the industry and the dedication to keep learning new skills and techniques
  • physical dexterity – you’ll be spending long hours on your feet, so you’ll need plenty of stamina.

Working Hours and Conditions

Your working hours as a beauty therapist can vary depending on the type of environment that you work in. For example, if you’re hired in a clinic salon or spa, you’ll typically work a 10-6 shift, five days a week, including the weekend, in order to cater to evening demand.

Alternatively, you could choose to work as a freelance therapist or create your own business from your house, or decide to rent a chair or salon. If you go down this route, you can schedule appointments around your own personal schedule and work on days that are most convenient for you.

As mentioned, when you’re on the job, you’ll spend a lot of hours on your feet, so it’s best to wear comfortable shoes and clothing. It’s also a good idea to wear dark coloured outfits, as you’ll most likely end up with products on you at some point throughout the day.

Salary Prospects

While starting salaries are relatively low for newly qualified therapists in both the UK (£15,000) and the USA ($18,000), there’s scope for you to advance and earn a lot more as you gain experience. According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, the average salary for a beautician in the USA is $24,900 per year, while the National Careers Service in the UK reported that the average wage is £20,000. 

If you’re self-employed, you’ll be able to set your own prices and hours which will determine the amount that you earn per year. Generally speaking, though, you could make an average of £240 for a day’s work.

Job Outlook

Although you may not initially think that there’s much progression in the field, you’d be mistaken. With the right skills and network, you could advance into television or work with celebrities. You could even end up with your own brand and range of products; in such an in-demand industry, the options and capacity for growth are truly endless. The main thing is to have the dedication and the skills to follow through on your ideas.

2. Get the Qualifications

There are many avenues to take when obtaining your accredited beauty certifications. So, to help you select the right path for you, we’ve listed the different courses and training programs below.

NVQ Level 1,2,3 & 4

The National Vocational Qualification is a work-based certification which combines both practical and work-based elements including, theory with on the job training carried out in a college. This type of course typically takes two years to complete and involved general beauty therapy training as well as makeup, nails and spa therapy. If you do want to advance to managerial and business training, you’ll need to continue studying to gain your level 4 qualification.

ITEC Diploma

The ITEC Diploma delivers detailed insight into advanced beauty therapists specialising in facial treatments, nails and waxing. What’s great about this qualification is that it’s recognised in over 33 countries and is an excellent option for those seeking to work in cruise ships or abroad.

BTEC in Beauty Therapy Science

A BTEC diploma in the UK is an A-Level equivalent and is the perfect first step to take when trying to break into the beauty industry. You’ll not only gain industry-specific skills, but you’ll also be ready to take your first paying job once you’ve completed your course at the age of 18.

Diploma in Medical Esthetics

If you’re looking for a specific skin training programme, the medical esthetics diploma is ideal for you. You’ll learn about chemical peels, microdermabrasion, vitamin therapies, herbology and aromatherapy – all essential designer facial treatments for a specialised beautician. 


Apprenticeships are a great way of gaining a qualification while working on the job and, more often than not, lead to full-time employment once you finish your training. This can be an ideal way to kick-start your beauty career without having to fork out for a diploma.

During your apprenticeship, you’ll learn alongside a trained beautician for 30 hours a week to gain industry-specific skills, coupled with a day in a college classroom learning the theoretical side of beauty therapy.

US State Licensing

In the US, you’re required to have a specific state license in the field of beauty, although the requirements vary from state to state. Generally speaking, there is a renewal period (which could be every year or every 10 years depending on your location), while there is also a minimum education and training requirement.

To obtain your license, you will need to research the specific requirements for your state and establish what level of qualification you need to practice beauty therapy.

Specialised Courses

As well as standard beauty therapy qualifications, you can also specialise in other areas: for example, you could undergo microblading training, complete an eyelash lifting course or focus on lash extensions. You could even delve into non-surgical treatments which can boost your catalogue and help you find your niche as a therapist.

3. Land Your First Job

Getting your first gig as a beauty therapist shouldn’t be tricky. With so many salons looking for qualified staff, you’ll be able to find a job in a local salon, hotel or spa. And if the idea of working for someone else isn’t for you, you could simply rent a room in a hair salon or another establishment that has a regular client base, anyway.

4. Develop Your Career

Once you’ve managed to develop and consolidate a sizeable return client list, you’ll be able to consider the next steps in developing your career. If you’ve got an entrepreneurial mindset, this could mean opening and managing your own salon, or even developing your own products and building a brand.

On the other hand, if running a full-time business empire sounds like a little too much, you could always opt to go freelance and balance your work with your other passions or goals; alternatively, you could focus on one specific area of beauty and make a name for yourself. Through the use of viral platforms such as YouTube and Instagram, it’s easier than ever to get your work out there and, if you’re bringing something truly exciting to the table, who knows what celebrity clients or jobs could potentially await.

Although the world of beauty seems glamorous, when you are on the delivering end, it can be far from it! You’ll not only end up with products on you, but you’ll also feel physically tired from the strain that it can put on your body. However, the reward you get from making someone else feel better will be entirely worth it at the end of the day, as will the opportunities to progress and advance in this hugely exciting industry.

Is this a career that seems appealing to you? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.