How to become an aesthetician in the UK

18 October 2023

Dealing with a customer

Aesthetics is a lucrative industry, and with the popularity of Instagram and Tiktok, more and more people are striving for that filtered, picture-perfect look in day to day life. A career in aesthetics is an amazing way to make money in the beauty and skincare industry. 

Aestheticians are trained to provide a range of services, including facials, makeup application, waxing, and more. If you’re interested in becoming an aesthetician, here’s everything you need to know.

What is an aesthetician?

Aestheticians are highly trained skincare professionals. They’re similar to a beautician but have extra qualifications in specialist skincare treatments. A huge part of the role involves getting to know their client’s skin, facial anatomy and devising plans for treatment to address skin concerns.

If clients have significant skincare challenges, an aesthetician can help transform their skincare routines to improve the health of their skin. Whether this is through specialised facials, personalised product recommendations, or expert advice, aestheticians are committed to helping clients achieve their skincare goals.

Even though this isn’t an exhaustive list, aestheticians help with some of many skin concerns, including:

A non-medical aesthetician can provide the following types of treatments such as:

What’s the difference between a non-medical aesthetician vs a medical aesthetician?

As the names imply, a medical aesthetician will often have to gain medical training, including specialist modules on the human body, muscles, bones, nerves and more. With this knowledge, they can provide far more advanced treatment which can vastly improve a patient’s quality of life. 

Non-medical aestheticians do not perform medical procedures but do have to study modules to do with anatomy and physiology. Most of the treatments performed by a non-medical aesthetician are non-invasive (or partially), or treat skin problems that are typically minor.

Why become a Non-medical Aesthetician?

Aesthetics is a lucrative industry with new technologies constantly being introduced. We believe this is due to the increased transparency offered by beauticians and aestheticians on popular social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram, which make knowledge of aesthetic procedures far more accessible to a wider audience.

But why should you be a non-medical aesthetician? If you’re looking for a role that’s within the aesthetics industry that doesn’t involve having to study a degree and has a good salary, then a non-medical aesthetics route may be perfect for you. You can take your newfound knowledge into a salon or work freelance too, depending on the procedure you wish to offer to clients.

What skills do I need to become an aesthetician?

As aestheticians are client-facing, there are a number of soft skills you’d need in order to succeed in this lucrative discipline:

1. Interpersonal skills

Having good rapport-building, empathy and interpersonal skills are essential when providing client treatments. This is so clients feel at ease and trust you to provide good, consistent treatment with every visit. Plus, it’s not uncommon for clients to feel self-conscious of the problem areas they want to treat, so having the ability to reassure them is crucial.

2. Technical ability and precision

Whether you plan to be a medical or non-medical aesthetician, you need to have a good level of technical ability. By understanding good technique, how certain chemicals affect different part of the skin, recovery time and the like, you can build your reputation to become a trusted aesthetician known for their skill

3. Creativity

Skincare trends are ever-evolving and you should be keeping up with them. You may even incorporate them into aftercare or your procedures, especially if there are newfound benefits. 

4. Sales and marketing skills

It’s common for aesthetic clinics to stock aftercare or maintenance products in their salons. Learning how to upsell these as part of your services, as well as how to combine different skincare treatments to benefit the client, can really differentiate you from the next salon (and make you more revenue!).

How to become an aesthetician (the non-medical route) Training and qualifications 

First, it’s really important to understand that there are different levels of training and qualifications for aestheticians in the UK. Some aestheticians are trained to provide basic services, while others may have more advanced training and qualifications. You need to decide which sort of training suits you best. Let’s dive into the steps to become a qualified aesthetician in the UK:

1. Have GCSEs

But don’t worry if you don’t have the required grades. At RJL Education, we don’t require any prior qualifications for our Level 2 courses – meaning if you didn’t achieve the required grades in Maths and English, you can still study and complete our courses!

However, some employers may want to see you’ve completed your secondary school education and gained GCSEs at C (4 or 5) or above. Fortunately, we’re here to guide you even after you’ve completed one of our courses in gaining future employment! 

2. Enrol in an NVQ course

A perfect place for beginners is a Level 2 NVQ qualification in Beauty Therapy course which is often obtained through a college or vocational school. This level of training will typically include classes on skincare, makeup application, aesthetic procedures and even hair removal.

For those looking to advance their career and offer more services, a Level 3 NVQ in Beauty Therapy is the next step up. Both of these courses provide a solid foundation for building a successful career, but it is certainly not the end of the journey. From here, you’ll need to you can specialise in other, more technical areas.

3. Specialise

Perhaps your passion lies in anti-ageing procedures, in which case you can take the Anti Wrinkle Foundation Course RJL offers at our education centre. Maybe you’ve decided that filler is where you want to specialise, in which case our Lip Filler Augmentation Foundation course or our HA Dermal Filler Foundation course could be an excellent beginning for you.

4. Gain real-life experience 

After completing your training, you can membership with the British This Association of Beauty Therapy & Cosmetology (BABTAC) and the Guild of Beauty Therapists (GBT) – though it’s not entirely necessary. Essentially, these organisations provide support and resources for aestheticians and can help you find work in the industry. Once you have completed a course with RJL, you will have received a recognised worldwide CPD certificate, which ensures you work and insure yourself as a self-employed aesthetician.

It is also important to gain hands-on experience by working in a salon, spa, or other similar establishment. This will give you the opportunity to practise your skills and gain real-world experience. You could even begin by working as a freelancer, offering your services to friends and family in order to build up a reliable reputation.

5. Keep learning

Even though you’ll practice procedures within our course on fellow peers and models, it’s important to keep up with the latest developments and trends in the aesthetics and beauty industry. You may wish to conduct further training and develop separate portfolios in order to offer these products and services successfully in the future. 

After all, learning doesn’t stop once you’ve completed a course, perfection is key to building your reputation in aesthetic treatments!

The benefits of starting a career in Aesthetics

One of the best things about being an aesthetician is the flexibility of the job. Many aestheticians choose to work part-time or on a freelance basis, which allows them to have an excellent work-life balance. There are also so many opportunities for career advancement, including working in a spa, opening your own salon or even becoming an educator yourself.

Frequently asked questions about becoming an aesthetician in the UK

Where do aestheticians work?

Typically, aestheticians work in salons, spas, gyms or mobile within a client’s home (depending on the treatment). It’s also possible to provide aesthetic treatments remotely, though this is typically for aftercare purposes.

How long does it take to complete aesthetics training in the UK?

This completely depends on the treatment(s) you want to offer as an aesthetician. You must hold a minimum of an NVQ Level 3 in Beauty Therapy, but it’s also beneficial to undertake additional aesthetics courses.

From there you can take specialist courses in your chosen interest. Some can take just two days to complete (such as our anti-wrinkle or dermal filler course), whilst more complex courses can take longer.

How much does an aesthetician make in the UK?

This can vary depending on the treatments you offer and where you work in the UK. On average, you can expect to make anywhere between £34,000 – £54,000, but this can be higher if you work freelance or have a high number of clients.

Becoming an aesthetician in the UK is a great way to fulfil a career in the beauty and skincare industry. With the right training and qualifications, you can provide a variety of services to clients and thrive in your professional and personal life. Make sure to check out our fast-track Aesthetic courses if you are interested in starting your journey.