Beauty Apprenticeships: All you need to know

‘Beauty’ is a term that encompasses the whole industry, but there are many different professions within beauty that require specific skills and experience.

Read on to discover what jobs you could secure in beauty, how an apprenticeship is the best way to get started in the industry, and where you can find these opportunities.

Career paths in the beauty industry

Nail technician

As you’ll likely guess from the name, nail technicians treat clients’ fingernails and toenails. With correct training, nail techs can apply acrylic and gel nails, and some become well-known for their nail art. Other elements included in this role are repairing damaged nails, offering hand and feet massages and advising clients on what looks best.

Beauty therapist

This is a more senior job in the industry. Beauty therapists are specialists in body and face care, and are trained in treatments such as manicures, pedicures, facials, massage therapy, hair removal and more. Other beauty therapists are experts in niche areas such as aromatherapy, false tan application and eyebrow/eyelash treatments.


Hairdressers and barbers cut, colour and style their clients’ hair as per their requirements, and there are a lot of opportunities to specialise in areas of this discipline. For example, some hairdressers enter competitions for their styling abilities, some are known for restoring the health of damaged hair, and others might be experts in one type of colouring, such as dying blonde hair.

Working as an apprentice barber you will learn all about styles, techniques and customer service on-the-job, while also helping to keep a fast-paced business running smoothly.

Makeup artist

Otherwise known as MUAs, makeup artists create custom looks that suit their clients’ requirements, appearance and preferences. This is a highly artistic role, and you’ll need to stay up-to-date with the latest cosmetic trends. Makeup artists work with the general public for events such as parties, weddings, and proms, and can also specialise in other areas like special FX, drag, theatre or bridal makeup.

Where to find beauty apprenticeships


VTCT is a training provider that offers 3 apprenticeships in beauty – Beauty Therapist, Nail Services Technician and Beauty and Make-up Consultancy. These are all Level 2.

Saks Apprenticeships

Rated as an Outstanding apprenticeships provider by Ofsted, Saks offers 2 apprenticeships in beauty: Level 2 Intermediate Beauty Therapy and Level 3 Wellbeing and Holistic Therapy.


The National Hair and Beauty Federation organises beauty apprenticeships with the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education. They offer a multitude of courses, including:

  • Level 2 Hairdressing/Barbering
  • Level 2 Nail Services Technician
  • Level 3 Advanced Beauty Therapist
  • Level 3 Advanced and Creative Hair Professional

Entry requirements

You will need at least level 1-3 in English and maths to qualify for the above apprenticeships, depending on the individual programme. Besides this, everyone can recall a time when they’ve had a great chat with their barber, or gossiped with their nail tech, or have received useful advice from their beauty therapist. Why? Because people who work in the beauty industry need excellent interpersonal skills in order to put clients at ease, provide consultations and brighten up their day. Strong work ethic and a desire to learn will also serve you well.

Where can beauty take you?

Many beauty professionals choose to become self-employed to give them more flexibility over their treatments, working hours and working locations. You could run a mobile business, meaning that you travel to your clients’ houses rather than inviting them to your salon. Another option is to ‘rent a chair’ in multiple salons/hairdressers – this means that you could work for multiple businesses on different days of the week.

Once you become more confident in your field, you could take on an apprentice of your own, or move into training or teaching in colleges and salons. The student becomes the master! Another exciting career path you could pursue is the entertainment industry. Every theatre show, TV series and film that you watch has a huge hair and makeup team behind the scenes, and the entertainment industry is a big employer for beauty professionals.

With a strong combination of experience and business acumen, you could even open your own salon or hairdressers!

Extra tips

Don’t forget that the key to building a loyal client base and attracting new business is to have a great portfolio – this stands for the beauty industry. Be sure to take photographs of your clients’ hair, makeup and nails (with their permission, of course) and post them on your social media – even when you’re still in training. This will show clients your style of work and your capabilities.

Another way to build your portfolio and practise your skills is to gain some work experience. In the beauty industry, this is usually undertaken on a Saturday when the salons/hairdressers are busiest. You could get paid, or just volunteer your day in return for work experience while you’re waiting to secure an apprenticeship.

Now’s the time to make it happen

Remember that your future is in your control, so there’s nothing stopping you from applying for a beauty apprenticeship today. Don’t be worried about finding your niche straight away, as beauty is a collaborative industry that allows you to re-train and switch specialities at any time – so you’ll never get bored in your career.