The beauty industry is not currently subject to any government regulation, which means by law you do not need any qualifications to work as a beauty therapist or nail technician. However, it is unethical and dangerous to work without adequate training and beauty therapist qualifications.
At the very least you will a qualification in every treatment you wish to offer. This will ensure that you are competent in all your treatments and can obtain suitable insurance.
Which Beauty Therapist Qualifications?
There are a number of different routes you could take to get the qualifications you need. This could be a comprehensive course such as an NVQ or VTCT programme which is studied over a long period of time and covers a wide range of treatments, or shorter, individual courses at private training centres. Which path is best for you will largely be dictated by the work you want to do, finances, the time you have available and your personal circumstances.
What Do Employers Look For?
If you are looking to work in a salon or spa then it is advisable to contact a few local businesses to see what kind of qualifications they would look for in a new employee. This is down to the discretion of each individual salon or spa owner.
Courses such as NVQ, VTCT, City & Guilds and ITEC are longer and nationally recognised. These can be offered at Further Education colleges and some private training centres. As they are long-term they can be expensive and involve a lot of hours.
There are many private training centres across the country who offer their own courses. These are often courses in specific treatments and can be completed in just a few days. These qualifications take the form of diplomas and certificates. The name of the qualification does not denote the level of training, and may or may not be accepted by an employer.
If you are intending to use a specific product system such as a skincare or nail range it may be worth contacting them before you embark on any training. Some suppliers will only sell products to you if you hold specific qualifications, whilst others will offer you a conversion course of their own. This is because their products are considered to be specialised and they need to ensure you have a particular level of understanding before you can use them.
Is Training Really Necessary?
You may be looking at the expense involved in training and thinking it is not really necessary, however, you would be wrong. Many people believe they can watch a therapist apply a set of gel nails and then offer the same to the paying public. Whilst it seems an easy route, you will not learn how to treat different types of customers, how to recognise and deal with various contra-indications and how to fix any problems you are presented with.
Without qualifications, you will not have insurance. This means that should you fail to recognise a contra-indication correctly and give the client the wrong type of treatment, you may cause injury or a nasty reaction. Not only will you have caused harm to someone, you are also open to being sued, and you will be responsible for the full cost of the claim. There are a range of insurance companies available who specialise in providing cover for beauty therapists and salons including Associated Beauty Therapists (ABT), BABTAC, Federation Of Holistic Therapists, Guild Of Beauty Therapists, Professional Beauty Direct and Salon Gold.
Whilst there are no national qualification requirements, more and more local councils are bringing in their own restrictions. Some local authorities will require you to apply for a special treatment licence if you offer body massage, ear piercing or some electrical treatments. There are also an increasing number of councils, particularly in London, that require therapists to hold certain qualifications if they wish to work in a salon. You should ensure that you check with your local council what their requirements are before you book onto a training course.
Essentially, the qualifications you should hold are the ones that meet your needs best. Look into your future and decide where and how you want to work, as this will help you to decide what qualifications suit you.