How to become … an aesthetic therapist

15 February 2016


Aesthetics is the next step up the ladder for a beauty therapist, as the thriving industry offers many employment opportunities, and you’re likely to earn a better salary with commission on top.

As there are many trained aestheticians out there looking for a new job, you can’t expect to jump straight into a senior role in the industry with no aesthetics experience or training. But, this isn’t the end of the road, as there are some steps you can take to become an aesthetic therapist.


Training to become an aesthetician – the basics


The starting point for therapists in the aesthetics, spa or beauty industry, is to complete a nationally recognised beauty therapy course, such as the NVQ system. Clinics and medi-spas will require their therapists to have completed the NVQ level 3 in Beauty Therapy, as this will provide you with the foundational skills for treating and caring for clients, and the health and safety protocols to adhere to in a treating environment.

These qualifications are also necessary for businesses to be able to insure their therapists, and operate legally. Equivalent qualifications will also be considered, but they must be from recognised providers, and the course must cover the same areas of training as the NVQ.

Therapists in aesthetics clinics or medi-spas need to complete recognised aesthetics training courses in order to perform advanced treatments safely. As most aestheticians will perform laser or IPL treatments, be it hair removal, tattoo removal or skin rejuvenation, the next course it’s wise to complete is the Laser and IPL Core of Knowledge, as regulatory bodies and insurers will require clinicians performing such treatments to have completed this. Offered by many training providers throughout the UK at an affordable fee, this theory course teaches you the safe use of lasers and practical tips for consultations and treatments.


Independent training in aesthetic treatments


Many training providers offer practical courses in the use of laser and IPL equipment, skin peels and cosmeceuticals, micro-needling, microdermabrasion and more. Some courses, such as the Aesthetic Therapist Course at London College of Fashion, provide an all-in-one programme that will teach you a number of procedures and provide you with a deeper understanding of working in the aesthetics industry. Though practical courses can be costly, the more treatments you have certified training in, the more options you will have in terms of where you can work, and how much you can earn.


Training provided by employers


If you simply can’t afford to pay for a number of training courses, but you have your NVQ3, there are some employers who may be willing to take you on as a junior and provide training.

The choice of treatments you train in is likely to be governed by the particular clinic’s treatment menu, the popularity of certain treatments, and the skills of the other therapists in the team. For example, if you go to work for a clinic that specialises in laser hair removal, you will be trained to perform that treatment, and you are likely to perform that procedure a number of times, gaining good experience in that area. You may think this sounds rather repetitive, but remember that you are more likely to be offered training in other treatments if you can demonstrate your skill and aptitude at the first one you perform independently.


Finding entry-level vacancies


Look for job adverts where the minimum requirements are listed as the NVQ3 and beauty therapy or spa experience, as these will be the entry-level roles. If aesthetic treatment experience is listed as ‘essential’, then your application is not likely to be successful, as that employer will be prioritising experienced aestheticians, and may not have the capability to train inexperienced therapists.

If you can’t find any such vacancies, try contacting clinics directly with your CV and a covering letter explaining your skills and ambitions, even if they aren’t currently advertising. An application for a role you are underqualified for may look as if you haven’t understood the requirements of the role, but a well-written, direct approach may show that you are confident, proactive and keen to work for that particular employer.


Practical experience


While training can lay the foundations for a career as an aesthetician, only solid work experience will help you move up the ladder to a senior position and a higher salary. You can be trained in all the aesthetic treatments under the sun, but to prove to an employer you are professional and capable of providing treatments of the highest standard, you must demonstrate that in the working environment, and with a successful track record of employment.


When you secure your first job as an aesthetician, it may not be your dream job offering everything you could possibly ever want from your career, but it must be taken seriously, as your success in this position will be taken into account by your next employer. If you exceed your targets, act with complete professionalism towards all clients and colleagues, demonstrate that you are adept at treating, and stick at this first role for a reasonable amount of time, then you will probably be earmarked for promotion, or will have a good chance of being successful in future job applications.


[This blog is intended to provide basic, useful information for those looking for a career in aesthetics. ARC Aesthetic Professionals is a recruitment consultancy – we do not provide or organise aesthetics training or insurance; we are not an advisory body or industry regulator.

Please note that while we’re happy to help where we can, we are not an industry authority that can provide official guidance on industry requirements or regulations.]


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