First Steps to a Career in Beauty Therapy

Here's how to maximise your career potential ...


Education is at the basis of a career in beauty therapy, and CIDESCO which is the most prestigious qualification in beauty therapy is the leader. Starting in Switzerland in 1946 and now recognised in 33 countries, CIDESCO aims to maintain the highest standards in education and is recognised worldwide. With a reputation that is second to none, CIDESCO trained therapists are the most sought after by any employer.

NVQ meaning National Vocational Qualification or SVQ Scottish Vocational Qualification are recognised throughout the UK and set the standard for the beauty therapy industry. Courses are free for those aged 16 - 19 yrs and for mature students on a full time course. NVQ level 2 is equivalent to a GCSE and NVQ level 3 is equivalent to an A level. NVQ's are work related; competence based training and covers all aspects of salon and spa therapy. They are sectioned into 'units' and once students have demonstrated practical skills and knowledge the lecturer will then sign it off as passed. There is no strict time limit for completion but courses normally take between 2-3 years.

During your final year you will need to find 'work experience' where one day a week you will be part of a team of professional therapists. This is a fantastic opportunity to get a taste of working in the industry! Due to insurance purposes students are not allowed to actually perform treatments on a paying client but maintaining a positive attitude and enthusiasm may lead to a job opening in the future or even if it doesn't, make the most of this and ask the manager to provide a written reference about your time there.

Other places where you can offer your services on a voluntary basis is hospices. These are not the easiest places to work but doing this during your college years will provide valuable practical experience.

Curriculum Vitae

It's money well spent getting a 'professional' CV done, to enhance your possibilities of getting that first job. If this isn't an option for you then here are some pointers for a great CV;

  • CV should be easy to read
  • Highlight strengths, acheivements and experiences relating to the position you're applying for
  • Qualifications and experiences should be recorded from the most recent first
  • Invest in quality paper, of a neutral colour
  • Use bullet points rather than wordy paragraphs - information should be short and sharp
  • Clear categories; i.e. work history, work experience, education, key skills
  • Make sure you're easy to contact; include full name, address, telephone and email
  • Avoid adding irrelevant information
  • Check for spelling mistakes prior to printing

For further advice on writing a sparkling CV click here

Increase your employment opportunities

Larger organisations, for instance health spas and hotel spas are the best bet for getting your foot in the door, as they regularly recruit treatment staff and their organisation has a set hierachy starting from beauty therapist all the way through to spa director. They also employ training managers so they are able to cope with a few newly qualified therapists giving them experience, training and guidance to equip them for a successful career. These larger organisations often use 3 to 5 different product brands so there are plenty of opportunities to specialise in a couple of these which will enhance your CV for future employers. These places are normally located in small towns or countryside and so relocation is inevitable.

Employment agencies, online job boards like as well as trade magazine advertise newly vacant positions daily so keep ahead of the game by registering your details online and checking for new adverts.

When you get your interview be aware that a trade test will be included in this process so bring along your uniform and fob watch. Most interviewers will get you to do a back massage and nail paint. remember to check your client's comfortable, check the pressure is firm enough etc. Most people are anxious during the interview process so 'Bach flower rescue remedy' is a great solution. You can buy this is a high street chemist and it has a cherry brandy taste, but is not alcohol. It reduces anxious feelings and calms nerves and is ideal for job interviews, exams and driving tests.

Employers ideally want their employees to be professional, enthusiastic, eager to learn, flexible and available for over time, sincere and trustworthy. Having a 'can do' attitude and happy disposition as well as being a strong all rounder are desired qualities. So other jobs undertaken during your college years, where you had responsibilities, demonstrated trustworthiness and loyalty can also be highlighted during the interview.

If you left college a few months ago it is important to keep up to date and have what you have already learnt fresh in your mind. One or two day courses are run by local colleges for post graduate therapists to learn additional services for instance hot stone massage, hopi ear candling etc... Not only does it keep your hand in but it also increases your employment potential. Beauty lecturers, friends and family may know a salon owner or therapist already established in the industry who may put in a good word for you, as sometimes it's who you know that counts.

The secrets of success

If after months of seeking that first job you still haven't been successful it can really dampen your spirits but it's so important to keep a positive attitude and visualise yourself getting that job that you really want. Doing a wish list or a goal list is a great idea as it clarifies exactly what you're wanting to acheive. Pin it on your bedroom door or somewhere that you will see it every day so that you keep focused and don't get discouraged from those people who insist on giving you their negative opinions, about your situation.

Sometimes to achieve something you have to make a sacrifice, that sacrifice could be relocating and moving away from the home, or travelling more than an hour to reach the spa or salon, or working every single weekend - but if you really want to be a beauty therapist then none of these sacrifices should be a problem for you.

" Faith can move mountains they say, but the impossible takes a little longer. These happy thoughts should give you reassurance that your dreams are not totally out of your grasp, yet one thing is for sure, there's no use wafting aimlessly in the breeze, vaguely hoping. You have to make your own magic! First visulaise, then do it!"

- Joanathan Cainer

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