Published on: 31 May 2017

Job Description (What the job involves)

There can be some confusion over term ‘beautician’. Some employers use it interchangeably with beauty therapist but most therapists would much rather be called the latter. There are two reasons for this; the first being that the term ‘Beautician’ is regarded as rather old fashioned and for some even slightly demeaning. And secondly, there is the perception amongst some that beauticians perform the most basic of beauty treatments such as facials, spray tanning, strip waxing and nails whereas beauty therapists can carry out all treatments including massage and facial and body electrical treatments.

Perception as to the role of a beautician can sometimes even come down to which country you’re in.

Because within the UK both terms are used interchangeably with each other and because the different levels of beauty therapist therapy actually determine which beauty treatments you’ll typically deliver we take ‘Beautician’ to be one and the same thing as a ‘Beauty Therapist’. And that it will largely come down to personal preference what you call yourself.

Typical standard beauty  treatments that a NVQ level 2 beautician might be expected to perform are as follows:

  • Skincare facials
  • Waxing
  • Nail treatments - Manicures,  pedicures, gels
  • Eyelash and eyebrow tinting
  • Spray Tanning services i.e. Fake Bake
  • Makeup including special event like bridal makeup

With NVQ level 3 some people would regard you will have now advanced from being a beautician to a beauty therapist as you will now be able to carry out more advanced body treatments such as

  • Various types of body  massage (i.e. Indian head, Swedish, stone therapy)
  • Body electrical treatments
  • Facial electrical treatments
  • Hair removal procedures i.e. Electrolysis
  • Intimate waxing treatments

The thing about embarking on a career as a beautician is that your training may never stop. There are so many professional beauty products (dermalogica, Elemis) each with their own application guidelines. And one can attend further courses to deliver further treatments such as

  • Body treatments i.e. slimming, toning and cellulite
  • Eyebrow threading
  • IPL laser

A beauty treatment can take anything from 15 minutes for a quick brow tidy to 2 hours depending on what treatment the client has booked.

For some treatments you will probably have to request your clients complete a quick health questionnaire . This is to establish whether there are any contraindications that would restrict their facial or body treatment i.e. recent scar, injury etc

Asides from carrying out beauty treatments a beautician will also be expected to:

  • Offer advice on post treatment home care
  • Promote other beauty treatments
  • Advise upon and sell beauty products
  • Assist with telephone and front of house enquiries when necessary
  • Keep the treatment room clean, tidy and well equipped

Hours and Working Environment

Most beauticians find work within a beauty salon either on a part time or full time basis. Most salons have evening opening say until 7pm or 8pm whilst others can also be open till typically 5pm on a Saturday. You should therefore expect to be flexible with your hours to cover such periods and work according to a rosta.

Most salons provide nail services and makeup within the main body of the salon whilst facials and body treatments tend to be carried out within private treatment rooms for purpose of relaxation and privacy. 

Most beauty salons tend to be clean, bright and pleasant places to work

Upsides and Downsides

There are many upsides to work as a beautician.

  • Variety - There’s the variety of people that will present themselves as clients and the variety of products you’ll potentially  be working with and treatments you’ll be delivering
  • Helping people - there’s immense satisfaction to be had from making people feel more confident and happy in themselves or more relaxed and less stressed
  • Indulging your passion for beauty - as a beautician you’re best placed for indulging your passion for all things beauty related

As with any job there are also some potential for downsides

  • Stressful - If you work in a busy salon with fully booked columns it can be at time stressful if your client is late as  it has a knock on effect with the rest of your schedule
  • Repetitive strain injuries - Using your hands, arms and fingers in the same manner on a regular basis to perform  nail treatments or massage can lead to repetitive strain injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome

Skills and Personal Qualities

A good beautician typically needs the following skills and qualities

  • Excellent customer service
  • Good people skills
  • Ability to feel empathy towards others
  • Patience
  • Good stamina as you often have to stand for long periods
  • Good attention to detail
  • Able to work on their own
  • Being discreet and able to keep clients confidentiality
  • Well presented
  • High standard of personal hygiene

Entry Requirements

To qualify as a beautician you must attain some formal training and qualifications in beauty therapy. Most employers will ask for an NVQ level 2 and level 3 in beauty therapy (or their equivalent)

If you have ambition to work abroad then you may want to consider acquiring the internationally recognised CIDESCO qualification

To progress in your career as a beautician it’s important to continually build upon your product knowledge and treatments after you’ve acquired your level 3. The more products and treatments you have under your belt the easier it will be to advance within your career and find work.