What does an aesthetician do? Skills, qualifications, salary

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 4 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many people look to beauty and skincare treatments designed to improve their skin's appearance in search of the perfect complexion. From facials to waxing to chemical peels, aestheticians provide a range of treatments to help people achieve their skin goals and feel more confident in themselves. If you like working with people and are passionate about skincare and beauty, pursuing this career path may be perfect for you. In this article, we answer, 'what does an aesthetician do?', show you what qualifications you can obtain to enter this role and explain what it's like to study to become an aesthetician.

What does an aesthetician do?

Learning the answer to, 'what does an aesthetician do?' is helpful if you'd like to work in the beauty industry but are unsure if becoming an aesthetician is the right career choice for you. An aesthetician carries out skincare treatments to help enhance the skin's appearance. They work with clients to understand their skin type and concerns, creating a plan that can include products and treatments designed specifically to help the client. Some of the treatments they provide include facials, micro-dermabrasion, chemical peels and waxing. Example responsibilities of an aesthetician include:

  • assessing a client's skin type and establishing their skin concerns,

  • making recommendations for treatments and products to treat skin concerns and improve skin's appearance,

  • performing facial treatments using products designed to address skin concerns,

  • performing therapeutic facial massages to stimulate blood flow and provide relaxation therapy,

  • performing hair removal treatments, including waxing, threading and derma-planing,

  • providing recommendations for products to help a client improve their skin at home,

  • educating clients on effective skincare routines and how to take care of their skin,

  • treating a number of common skin issues and complaints, including acne, dry skin, oily skin, sun damage, signs of ageing.

Related: How to become a cosmetologist (with salary and skills)

Professional aesthetician qualifications

Becoming an aesthetician requires that you obtain formal qualifications and develop relevant knowledge and practical skills that can help you deliver treatments safely and effectively. There are two main ways to consider if you want to obtain formal qualifications of an aesthetician and qualify for registering with the Guild of Beauty Therapists and other professional registers. These ways include:

Beauty therapy courses

Beauty therapy courses are the most common entry route to becoming a professional aesthetician. Course of this type are typically available at colleges. Both private and distance learning providers offer courses for people interested in this route. If you're considering this route, you can study for a Level 2 or 3 Diploma in beauty therapy or a T Level in hair, beauty and aesthetics. To enrol in a course of this type, it's often necessary to obtain these formal qualifications:

  • For Level 2: two or more GCSEs at grades A* to D or equivalent

  • For Level 3: four or more GCSEs at grades A* to C or equivalent

  • For T level: four or more GCSEs at grades A* to C or equivalent, including English and maths

Apprenticeships

Another common route to becoming an aesthetician involves completing a relevant apprenticeship. There are two main types of beauty apprenticeship, intermediate and advanced. An apprenticeship takes between 15 and 18 months to complete. Here's what to do to qualify for each of the two types of apprenticeships:

  • Intermediate apprenticeship: For an intermediate apprenticeship, consider obtaining some GCSEs or the equivalent, including maths and English.

  • Advanced apprenticeship: For an advanced apprenticeship, it may be necessary to obtain five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C or equivalent, including maths and English.

Related: The pros and cons of apprenticeships to guide your career

What it's like to study to become an aesthetician?

Studying to become an aesthetician involves learning about different cosmetic procedures and developing a strong skill set that allows you to easily work with people, such as interpersonal and communication skills. During your training, you develop basic knowledge of a wide range of beauty practices and learn how to perform a variety of treatments. You also learn how to analyse skin types and concerns and how to provide the most effective treatments. Lecture-style sessions teach theory and may include written assignments. The more practical elements of a beauty therapy course include a combination of demonstrations and hands-on practice.

Students usually practise treatments on each other or bring models to perform treatments on them. Beauty therapy courses also teach students about the importance of salon safety and effective salon management, which are vital if you want to run your salon in the future. You may also expect to learn about client communication, as providing excellent customer service and experience is an essential part of an aesthetician's role. You also learn how to work as part of a team to help run an effective salon environment.

Further aesthetician training

After obtaining your beauty therapy qualifications, your best option may be to find employment as a junior aesthetician. This role gives you an opportunity to perform treatments with a supervision of a more experienced beauty professional. To advance in your role, it's usually necessary that you undertake further education and training, which prepares you for carrying out advanced aesthetic treatments using various devices, including electrical equipment and enhances your skills.

Learning how to deliver these treatments safely can help to improve clients' skin. Undertaking further aesthetic courses allows you to stay up to date on the latest skincare treatment innovations, ensuring you provide services that reflect the latest aesthetic developments and trends. Some aestheticians provide additional treatments to typical skin-based treatments, including makeup application, hair, massage, nails and intimate waxing. Choosing to obtain relevant qualifications and start offering additional services may allow you to work with a wider range of clients and earn more as an aesthetician.

Related: How to become a nail tech: a step-by-step guide

Aesthetician salary expectations

The average salary for an aesthetician is £29,771 per year. Salaries in this role may vary. Luckily, you may have a chance to increase how much you earn as an aesthetician, for example, by relocating to a bigger city, obtaining additional qualifications or starting your own beauty salon.

Related: Salary increment: what it is and how you can negotiate it

Essential skills for an aesthetician

Becoming a professional aesthetician requires that you develop a mixture of practical and client-facing skills. Consider strengthening these skills to increase your chances of succeeding in this role:

  • Customer service skills. Providing a high level of customer service is essential to make sure customers are happy with the service they receive. This helps you attract regular customers and encourages word-of-mouth recommendations for your services.

  • Communication skills. It's necessary to explain treatment types and recommendations and provide clear guidance on how a client can improve the condition of their skin. Strong communication and active listening skills help you fully understand your client's needs and concerns.

  • Attention to detail. Strong attention to detail can help you correctly perform certain treatments, such as electrolysis. You'd also use this skill to sanitise your work area or perform health and safety checks.

  • Time-management. As an aesthetician, you work with multiple clients per day, which means you're responsible for making sure each of the appointments is on time. Working on your time-management skills is essential to making sure you can offer your clients high quality services they deserve.

  • Critical thinking.Thanks to strong critical thinking, you can weigh up the different treatment options available to customers to ensure you choose the right option to meet their individual needs and that match their skin's condition.

Interviewing for an aesthetician role

Aesthetician roles are competitive, but there are ways to sell yourself in your interview to help you demonstrate that you're the best person for the role. As aestheticians work closely with clients, people skills are beneficial and learning how to describe your personality in an interview could help you show how you're suitable for the role. Nerves are common when it comes to job interviews, especially if it's your first one. Preparing in advance by practising interview questions can help you feel more confident and enter your interview with a more positive mindset.

Many salons like to offer prospective aestheticians a trial period to see how they fit into the salon environment and connect with clients, which is why your interview could include a practical element to test your skills. Becoming an aesthetician provides a lot of opportunities to work closely with people and help them feel more confident and it's important that you show the excitement about it during your interview. It's also necessary that you demonstrate that you have the right qualifications and are ambitious about continuously engaging in different learning activities to keep advancing your skills in the field.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

Explore more articles