How to get a career in the beauty industry
The beauty industry is vast and covers a wide variety of roles including hair stylists, beauty therapists, make up artists, nail technicians and holistic therapists. The beauty industry is popular and there is a high level of competition for each role. Here are some tips to help you succeed in getting the beauty career of your choice.
Decide what you want to do.
Take some time to carefully consider what role you would like to do and why. When you’re applying for training, apprenticeships or jobs, admissions staff and employers will want to see you are passionate about your chosen area. Better to choose something you love but may not be so good at, than choose something you dislike but are good at. Skills can be taught and practiced; passion and enthusiasm can’t.
When you choose something you enjoy doing, you naturally weave it into other areas of your life. This dedication beyond working hours will help you towards success because you will have read up about the area of the industry you love, you’ll know who’s who in it, you’ll have an awareness of relevant brands and you’ll keep up to date with industry news.
Complete formal training or education.
Formal training is a great way to kick start your career. When you are considering courses, be sure to look for courses that are accredited because these are approved by a professional body in the industry. It’s worth researching the professional body to check that they have a good reputation and are respected in the industry. Local colleges are a good starting point to find a training course.
Training courses often come with a formal qualification that you can work towards. In the beauty industry, NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications) are a common. These focus on practical, work-based education and competency-based assessments rather than academic exams. NVQs and other work-based training and qualifications are ideal if you’re new to the industry as they both teach you the theory as well as giving you the opportunity for hands-on experience.
You could also consider pursuing a qualification at university. Many universities have taken note of the popularity of the beauty industry and have started to offer both foundation and full degrees in subjects such as Beauty and Spa Management. A foundation or full degree is ideal if you want to work in a management or senior leadership role or are looking to be self-employed.
Be an apprentice.
An apprenticeship may go hand in hand with the qualification or training course you choose to pursue. To become an apprentice, you must be 16 or over, eligible to work in England and not in full-time education. Apprenticeships are useful because they give you practical, salon-based experience with real clients and products. You’ll also get to know colleagues in the industry and will benefit from working with others who have already built their career.
There are two levels of beauty therapy apprenticeships: intermediate and advanced. Intermediate covers junior and consultant roles (e.g. junior make up artist or beauty consultant) and advanced covers full therapist and artist roles (e.g. beauty therapist and make-up artist). The intermediate might be the better choice if you’re completely new to the industry, whereas the advanced might be more appropriate if you have some experience or are looking to go self-employed.
Build a portfolio.
It’s never too early to start your portfolio. Whether you’re competing for a spot on a training course, applying for an apprenticeship or want samples of your work to show a potential employer, your portfolio is your chance to shine. In keeping a portfolio, you not only show your passion for your work but you can also show off the best of your skills in a visual way.
Your portfolio can be online in the form of a website, it can be a digital document or it can be a hard copy book – whatever works for you. Online and digital portfolios are more shareable but hard copies give ‘wow’ factor when you’re attending interviews or meeting with potential clients.
Even if you’re just starting out in your career, you can develop a portfolio. Ask friends and relatives if you can practice your beauty treatment or service on them and feature the work in your portfolio. As you embark on training courses, apprenticeships or get your first role, you’ll be able to keep building your portfolio into an impressive body of work that will stand you in good stead for future promotion and employment opportunities.
Get a mentor.
Finding a mentor is a great way to gain advice and discuss the challenges with someone who is experienced in the industry. Getting a mentor is particularly useful if you’re looking to go self-employed or own your own beauty business, because you’re more likely to be alone in these ventures and be in need of someone to talk to and discuss your ideas with.
To find a mentor, you can search online for beauty mentoring networks or look for local mentoring groups. A mentor doesn’t need to be beauty-specific; if you’re going freelance, for example, a mentor with business experience outside of the beauty industry can offer you a different insight into your ideas.
Another way you can find a mentor is by finding someone you admire – someone who has a proven track record in the beauty industry or business. You could contact them, telling them a little bit about yourself and ask them if they’d consider being your mentor. Be sure to tell them why you have thought of them and why you think they’d make a great mentor. Arrange to meet them for coffee, see how you get on together and take it from there.
Network with others.
As the old saying goes, ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’. Skills, experience and attitude are vital to building a career in the beauty industry. However, building a network of connections in the industry is also important. Building a strong and varied network can open doors for you and give you an advantage that others don’t have. Your network has access to job opportunities that may not be publicly advertised. It can help you find services such as mentoring or financial advice. In return, your network can also provide personal recommendations for you that will help you secure a new role or win a new client.
Everyone is unique and the paths into a career in the beauty industry vary. You need to choose what role is right for you and plan the best route for you to take to gain the skills and experience needed to succeed in that role. Take inspiration from others in the industry but don’t compare; you may not be able to take exactly the same route as someone else but it doesn’t mean that you can’t succeed. Determination and a willingness to succeed are e