Beauty Therapist

The Job and What's Involved

Beauty therapists use a range of facial and body treatments to enhance the appearance and improve the well-being of their clients.

Before they start on any treatments, they get to know and understand their client and complete a health questionnaire with them.

Beauty therapists offer treatments such as:

  • Facials: cleansing, massaging and toning the skin.
  • Applying cosmetic make-up and tanning products.
  • Eyelash and eyebrow colouring, eyelash perming, and shaping.
  • Manicures, pedicures and specialist treatments such as nail extensions and nail art.
  • Body massage and aromatherapy.
  • Mechanical and electrical treatments to improve muscle tone and skin condition of the face and other parts of the body.
  • Removing unwanted facial or body hair by waxing or using specialist electrical equipment.
  • UV and spray tanning.
  • Hydrotherapy, flotation, steam and saunas.
  • Facial-rejuvenation and other non-surgical skin therapies.

Full-time beauty therapists work between 37 and 40 hours a week, and often do weekend and evening work. There are opportunities for part-time work and flexible hours.

Individual therapies take place in treatment rooms or cubicles which are warm, clean and private. For many treatments beauty therapists have to stand and bend over the client. If they have an allergy or a sensitive skin condition, some products may irritate their hands.

They usually wear a uniform to protect their own clothes and to look clean and smart.

Starting salaries are around £11,000 a year. Most employers offer attractive commission schemes, and may offer discounted or free products and treatments.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are opportunities throughout the UK for work as a beauty therapist, in salons and beauty clinics, hospitals, leisure clubs, well-being and beauty therapy spas, hotels and health farms. There are also opportunities to work overseas, for example on board a cruise ship, at holiday destinations or for major airlines. Beauty therapists can also be self-employed.

The health, beauty, and spa industry is growing and there are numerous vacancies and opportunities for qualified applicants.

Vacancies are advertised in the local or national press, on the websites of large employers such as spa, fitness and health, and leisure groups, and in specialist magazines such as Health & Beauty Salon, Professional Beauty, International Therapist and Guild News.

Education and Training

Beauty therapists need to take an advanced or level 3 course to be fully qualified. These courses include:

- NVQs/SVQs Level 3 in Beauty Therapy
- BTEC National Diploma in Beauty Therapy

Some advanced or level 3 courses require at least three or four GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3). English, maths and science are useful subjects. Colleges may also accept an NVQ/SVQ Level 2 in Beauty Therapy.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Beauty therapy training can take place either at a college or a private beauty school. Private schools offer a range of fee-paying qualifying courses.

There are also higher-level courses on offer, including:

Foundation degrees and Higher National Diplomas in: Beauty and Spa Services, Beauty and Complementary Therapies, Salon and Spa Management, and Beauty Therapy with Management or Health Studies. Students usually need at least one A level/two H grades, a BTEC National Award in Beauty Therapy or an NVQ/SVQ Level 3 in Beauty/Spa Therapy, plus at least four or five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3), including a science.

Degrees in Beauty Therapy, International Spa Management and Cosmetic Science. Degree courses usually require at least two A levels/three H grades and five GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), or a BTEC National Diploma in Applied Science (Beauty Therapy), or sometimes NVQ/SVQ Level 3.

Apprenticeships may also be available, covering beauty therapy general, beauty therapy massage or spa therapy. Advanced Apprenticeships lead to an NVQ/SVQ at Level 3.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work, Careers Wales; and for Northern Ireland contact

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A beauty therapist should:

  • Have excellent interpersonal skills.
  • Be a good listener, to find out what treatments would suit clients.
  • Have a caring attitude.
  • Be able to put people at ease.
  • Be punctual.
  • Have a smart appearance and good personal hygiene.
  • Be aware of the need for physical contact with clients.
  • Have good dexterity.
  • Pay attention to detail.
  • Have stamina, as they are on their feet most of the day.
  • Have artistic flair if specialising in make-up, nail art or skin decoration.

Your Long Term Prospects

There are good prospects for beauty therapists, and they can follow various different career paths.

They may choose to move into management, either in a larger salon, health farm, spa or leisure club. They could also become a trainer or lecturer, make-up artist, promotional therapist, or field sales representative working for a cosmetics or health company.

Beauty therapists can train as complementary therapists and offer treatments such as aromatherapy, reflexology, Indian head massage, Reiki and stress management.

Ultimately they may decide to open their own salon.

Get Further Information

British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology Ltd (BABTAC), Meteor Court, Barnett Way, Barnwood, Gloucester GL4 3GG
Tel: 0845 065 9000

Federation of Holistic Therapists, 18 Shakespeare Business Centre,
Hathaway Close, Eastleigh, Hampshire SO50 4SR
Tel: 0870 420 2022

Guild of Professional Beauty Therapists Ltd (GPBT),
Guild House, 320 Burton Road, Derby DE23 6AF
Tel: 0870 000 4242

Habia, Oxford House, Sixth Avenue, Sky Business Park,
Robin Hood Airport, Doncaster DN9 3GG
Tel: 0845 2 306080

International Therapy Examination Council (ITEC), 2nd Floor,
Chiswick Gate, 598-608 Chiswick High Road, London W4 5RT
Tel: 020 8994 4141

Vocational Training Charitable Trust (VTCT),
Customer service, 3rd Floor, Eastleigh House,
Upper Market Street, Eastleigh, Hampshire SO50 9FD
Tel: 023 8068 4500

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