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How to become a beauty therapist

What is a beauty therapist?

Beauty therapy is where a beauty therapist, someone who is a professionally trained body and face care expert, delivers a wide range of treatments. They can also decide to specialise in certain aspects of beauty therapy, like massage, waxing, or facials for example.

It is a broad spectrum as the term ‘beauty therapy’ will cover most salon treatments available, which means there is plenty of opportunity for progression into specialities.

A beauty therapist must have a thorough understanding of the lotions and waxes they are using, which allows them to have a complete understanding of each effect different treatments have on the skin and body.

What are the responsibilities of a beauty therapist?

The responsibilities of a beauty therapist ranges from day to day, but here are some tasks you can expect to perform:

  • Using waxing and electrolysis to remove facial and body hair.
  • Give a facial by cleansing, massaging, and toning a client’s skin.
  • Provide advice on makeup techniques based on a client’s needs.
  • Conduct skin analysis (face and body).
  • Warmly welcome customers upon their arrival.
  • Shape eyebrows and colour eyelashes.
  • Do non-surgical skin improvement treatments.
Beautician with a client
Male client having eyebrows waxed
  • Give various types of facial and body massages, including hot stone and reflexology.
  • Manage appointments.
  • Update clients’ records with contact details and treatments received.
  • Cross-sell beauty products and additional treatments, when appropriate.
  • Do a makeover by applying and advising makeup.
  • Give a manicure, pedicure, or other nail treatments like extensions and nail art.
  • Offer ultraviolet (UV) treatments and spray tanning
  • Ensure all areas are clean and equipment is sanitised.

How to become a beauty therapist

Unless you decide to enter the industry via the apprenticeship route, there are a few key qualifications you could gain to give yourself an advantage.

Check out beauty therapy courses either online or at a local college and enrol at your earliest opportunity. If you’re currently working in another industry, distance learning is perfect to learn alongside your job.

If you don’t fancy doing the qualification, or you simply haven’t got the free time, think about building up some relevant experience. Can you start as an assistant, perhaps? You could work in a salon or spa and shadow somebody higher up the ladder to learn more about the role and its responsibilities.

Consider putting yourself forward for a work placement; it could be exactly what you need to do to get your foot in the door in what is quite a competitive industry.

Once you’re in the door, you may decide to take a qualification after all. Doing so will obviously help you improve your skills and expand your knowledge.

What qualifications do you need to become a beauty therapist?

Did you know, you don’t have to attend a college in order to achieve a beauty therapy qualification? You can in fact study through distance learning and become fully qualified!

To become a qualified beauty therapist you will need to complete a level 2 or 3 qualification in Beauty Therapy. Open Study College offer a range of level 2 and 3 Beauty Therapy courses and diplomas.

Once you have completed our Complete Beauty Diploma, you will be able to purchase insurance that covers you when you begin to practice as a beauty therapist. Another way to build up your experience whilst studying your course is to start working in a salon or spa as an assistant. This will help you to put your knowledge gained from your course into practice.

Can you do level 3 beauty without level 2?

The level 3 courses are more advanced and are aimed at those students who have already completed the level 2 course and hold a certificate.

However, it is not a prerequisite, you can secure level 3 qualifications without holding a level 2 qualification.

How much do beauty therapists earn?

According to National Careers Service, beauty therapists start out by making an average of £16,000 a year.

Meanwhile, more experienced therapists will bring in £25,000 a year when working around 37 to 40 hours a week.

What skills does a beauty therapist need?

Customer service

Being able to address a customer’s needs to give a positive experience can be done with good customer service skills. Being in the service industry, having solid customer service skills is so important. This can be from greeting your customers to make them feel welcome, to attending to whatever needs they have.

Networking skills

Beauty therapists need to be able to make and establish relationships with both clients and other health professionals. By using networking skills, you can establish a strong professional network, by simply connecting with other beauty therapists, industry professionals, and your clients. This allows you to establish your own business with a solid network for support.

Personal hygiene

As you will be using and working with your hands, touching different clients, is very important that you pay extra attention to your personal hygiene.

Client receiving brow treatment
Beautician doing client's make up


Beauty therapists work will all sorts of equipment and tools, and sometimes use more than one at a time. That’s why when you are using the likes of razors, scissors, and other styling tools, you will need good hand-eye coordination. This will come with practice, though, and the more you do it be that on the job or in training, the better you’ll get.


As a beauty therapist, you will need to be able to give and receive information, so communication skills are vital. Having a friendly and confident demeanour will go a long way to making your clients feel comfortable. You will be working with a wide range of clients, as well as other beauty therapists, and being able to listen to their problems and speak and interact with them effectively to work with them so they get what they need is very important.

Sales experience

You will gain sales experience through training as well as on the job. It’s important that you get comfortable with handling money, recording transactions, and running a cash register.

Interpersonal skills

You will need to show compassion and empathy when dealing with customers or other beauty therapists so being able to understand the perspectives of others will help a lot. By doing this, you will be able to build strong relationships, not only with clients but with other health professionals as well.

Product knowledge

It’s important that as a beauty therapist, you have a deep understanding of the products you use, whether you work just with nails, makeup, or hairstyling. By being clued up and having a deep knowledge of each beauty product, you will be able to provide your clients with any information, as well as being able to answer any questions they have about the products.

Organisational skills

You will need to be organised if you’re to become a beauty therapist, as it’s important to organise your styling and hair products, tools, and equipment. Your area for styling can be kept clean and ready to use with strong organisational skills, especially if you learn how to store and care for your tools properly and the various disinfecting procedures.

Technical and computer skills

You may need to use a computer to manage and book customer appointments, with many salons using appointment-setting applications. By being proficient with basic scheduling software, as well as being able to navigate computer applications, you will have a better chance of succeeding in your career.

Time management skills

As a beauty therapist, you will be working around your schedule of appointments, so you will need to be able to manage your time successfully. Having this skill allows you to give yourself a sufficient amount of time for each client as well as being able to complete any other tasks or activities in a timely manner.

Beautician giving client a spray tan
Beauty therapists at reception

Physical stamina

You will be on your feet and moving around all day completing your day-to-day activities as a beauty therapist. That’s why it’s absolutely vital to be prepared for long days standing, but it’s not just physical stamina you need. You will be speaking to clients and other professionals, so to perform efficiently you may need strong mental skills.

Creative thinking

As a beauty therapist, you must be able to solve any problems or think about tasks in a different or new way. Clients may come to you looking for a new styling technique, a new unique look, or even not know what style they are after so being able to think creatively will certainly help. By having this skill trait, you will be able to provide your clients with excellent service.

Industry knowledge

You need to be able to keep up with the latest industry trends as a beauty therapist. Whether that be new hairstyles or new makeup techniques, you need to keep yourself in the loop. This will allow you to offer plenty of different services to your clients. Not only that but keeping up with the latest industry regulations is vital.

Business sense

If you are looking at setting up your own business as a beauty therapist, you must have a decent skill set for the likes of promoting services and products, handling finances, and basic bookkeeping. Even if starting a business isn’t in your plans, these skills can still be very beneficial for your career.

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