Even if you have got a natural affinity for beauty, gaining experience – either by working in a salon/spa or getting a beauty therapy qualification – can go a long way to helping you to make your mark in this lucrative field.

Think about it…

Who would you trust more with your hair, skin or make-up – a friend who has got a knack for up-dos, or someone who has spent years honing their skills within a professional environment? Given the choice, you would naturally lean towards the latter, because even if your friend does it for free, there is still a chance of something going wrong.

Now, this is not to say that things never go wrong in a beauty salon; however, the risk of it happening is dramatically reduced as they are all trained to do their job.

How can you gain experience?

Working as an assistant or getting an apprenticeship, are both great ways of gaining a real insight into the world of beauty and the various career options you can explore.

Through this practical experience, you’ll discover what it is really like to work in a salon – on a daily basis – but more importantly you’ll get used to the range of activities that you’ll be expected to do once you’re qualified.

And this is a fantastic way to boost your confidence, as not only will you get to interact with different types of clients – and their various personalities – you’ll also learn how to adapt your service based on your changing environment.

Step One: Getting Started – one of the first chances any of us ever gets to access work experience is during year 10 of secondary school. This usually lasts 2 weeks and is the perfect taster for witnessing the life of a beauty therapist. During this time, you would be asked to complete a range of tasks, which whilst not fancy, can act as a real eye opener to what would be expected of you, if you were to pursue this career.

Now, if you’ve already finished school, it is still possible to gain work experience. You’ll just have to approach it a different way…

For instance, you could try volunteering to work in a salon once a week or on weekends. By doing so you can build up your skills, expand your knowledge and learn how to properly treat customers.

TIP: Where to find experience – local salons, spas, hairdressers, make-up stores and beauty schools.

TIP TWO: Take the initiative and approach salons in person. Even if you are young and are only just starting to think about work experience; the fact that you made contact independently and weren’t afraid to find out more information about your chosen field, will make a positive impression that will help you to get some work experience.

Step Two: What to expect during work experience – in most cases you won’t yet be qualified, meaning you won’t be allowed to carry out any treatments/procedures on clients. If this is the case, then you’ll be asked to help out around the salon to ensure it continues running smoothly.

Tasks can include: making appointments; greeting clients; tidying/cleaning work areas (e.g. sorting out gowns/towels before and after treatments; sweeping the floor etc.); monitoring stock levels and preparing them for therapists; recording client information; taking payments; helping clients, and making tea/coffee.

Now, whilst none of these tasks sound particularly exciting, you need to remember that everyone has to start somewhere. Even once you are qualified, you’ll have to work your way up.

Similarly, a lot of these tasks ARE handled by beauty therapists and are a genuine part of their job.

Step Three: Qualifications – whilst experience is essential for progressing your career within beauty therapy; qualifications are just as important. In fact, if you are working towards a qualification you’ll find it easier to get a salon to give you work experience.

Most colleges offer NVQ’s in beauty therapy that you can start from just 16 years old. Alternatively, if you are older, or a limited by your existing family/work commitments, you can also acquire these qualifications by enrolling onto online beauty therapy courses. These can be completed from the comfort of your own home, and usually compromise of 1-3 days of attending an in-house workshop, where you’ll get to test out your newly acquired skills in a practical environment.

Recommended beauty qualifications that you should add to your arsenal include:

  • Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Beauty Therapy (you’ll have the choice to study from make-up, nails and spa treatment)
  • Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Advanced Beauty Therapy
  • Level 3 Diploma in Beauty Therapy Treatments

As you can see, to work in the beauty world getting the right experience and qualifications matters. However, it is still possible to start from the bottom – with no experience at all – and work your way up. So if you are interested in becoming a beauty therapist, then why not approach your local salon and see if they are willing to give you a chance? Be bold and witness the results of your bravery.