2 November 2023

Beauty Apprenticeships

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Remember that scene in Grease where Frenchy daydreamed about her celeb crush, and he called her a beauty school dropout..? Minus the daydream and insults, you can be just like her.

If you’ve ever done your hair nicely, slayed a makeup look, or have magical massage hands and toyed with the idea of turning it into a career – you can!

You don’t have to go to a posh institution to learn how either. There are hundreds of beauty apprenticeships available all over the country, and we’re here to tell you all about them.

What are beauty apprenticeships?

You’d be gravely mistaken to think that beauty apprenticeships are all just about hairdressing.

Apprenticeships in beauty help you develop technical skills and creativity while expanding your understanding of various treatments and the science behind them.

You’ll get hands-on salon experience working on real clients and classroom learning to help you gain those all-important qualifications.

There are as many routes as there are nail polish colours, and you can learn anything from massage therapy to becoming a nail technician or even an aromatherapist.

How long do they last?

The average apprenticeship lasts between 12 and 18 months.

The benefits of a beauty apprenticeship

Remember the Lady Gaga song: A Million Reasons? She didn’t lie. There are a million reasons why apprenticeships are beneficial.

  • A wage – earn while you learn
  • A nationally recognised qualification
  • Key and transferable skills
  • Salon and technical experience
  • A high chance of getting employed right after completing your apprenticeship.

What do you do in a beauty apprenticeship?

It’s all about getting stuck in and actually doing the job.

Not only are you given salon experience, but you’re also taught transferable skills.

These include:

  • Reception and managing scheduling software
  • Administrative tasks
  • Customer service
  • Health and safety
  • Inventory management.

Under the domed hair dryer, there are many super exciting and hands-on routes to take.

In other words, you get choice!

Beauty Therapist

Beauty therapists are the Cara Delevingne’s of the beauty world – they literally do it all. An apprenticeship in beauty therapy means learning everything from tanning and mani/pedis to facials, waxing, and general makeup.

Not only do you try your hand at all the practical stuff, but you also spend time learning the biology and chemistry behind beauty therapy.

Massage Therapist

Got a knack for soothing knotted backs? Great, you can turn that into a career too.

You’ll learn everything from aromatherapy and stone massages, as well as understanding the theory behind the practice. The tools you’ll develop will allow you to work anywhere. In a salon, at a spa resort, or independently.

Take it far enough, and who knows, one day you could be giving Emma Raducanu a massage after a gruelling tennis match.


Exactly what it says on the hair-dye bottle. You’re given full training so you can avoid dying someone’s hair green when they wanted pink.

Whether you want to be the next Vidal Sassoon, recreate the ‘Bills Bills Bills’ music video, or maybe you just really love hair.

Hairdressing apprentices get valuable salon time to master everything from washing, cutting and styling to colouring and perming.

Wellbeing and Holistic Therapy

“…and, relax!”

This section of the beauty world focuses on alternative styles of beauty therapy that link the body and mind.

Those with interest in Indian head massages, reflexology, aromatherapy, and acupressure need look no further. This is for you.

Makeup Artistry

Move aside NikkieTutorials. There’s a new artist in town – you!

If painting a face “for the gawds” is up your alley, an apprenticeship in make-up is just what the beautician ordered.

Budding MUAs try their hand at everyday makeup, wedding makeup, full-on glam, and even special effects.

Makeup apprentices can end up working in salons, fashion shows and editorial magazines, freelance, or even in TV and film.

Nail Technician

“Nailed it!”

Apprentices will get to grips with manicures, pedicures, painting nails, nail extensions, and general hand and nail care.

What levels of beauty apprenticeship are available for me?

There are two main types of apprenticeships;

Once you’ve gotten to grips with a teasing comb and gained your qualifications in the above, there are chances for you to further your career.

Level 4 advanced apprenticeships allow you to develop the skills you previously picked up.

At this level, you can train to become a senior technician within your chosen route or even train towards becoming a manager and artistic director.

What qualifications do I need?

An intermediate apprenticeship requires some GCSEs or equivalent, including Maths and English.

An advanced apprenticeship requires five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including Maths and English.

What if I don’t have the qualifications?

That’s okay! Traineeships and work experience are still great ways to get yourself on the ladder.

A beauty traineeship will give you the tools needed to get onto a level 2 apprenticeship or even full-time employment. Trainees also earn qualifications in Maths and English.

However, some schemes don’t require you to have any GCSEs or prior experience.

The London Hairdressing Apprenticeship Academy wants their potential apprentices to have passion for the craft, as well as looking the part!

How much do beauty apprentices get paid?

The current national minimum wage for an apprentice is £5.28 per hour.

Beauty apprentices can earn anywhere between £7,000 and £16,000 a year.

What do apprentices say about their training?

There are thousands of reviews from apprentices about their experiences – you should really give them a read. An apprentice said this about their time as a Trainee Hairdresser at Realise Training;

“I have never done hairdressing before until I started my training.

So far, I have learned how to carry out a wide variety of services, including how to cut hair, how to mix and apply chemicals for perming and colours, storing products correctly, use of rollers, creating volume, and understanding of why we use certain tools and using PPE.

Also, on the theory side, I have learnt about hair growth, structure, bonds and reactions. I really love the overall progression from learning the basics.

Evolving and gaining more hands-on experience has been a wonderful achievement. As the programme is not classroom-based, it gives me the freedom to learn at my own pace with the help of my tutor guiding me in the right direction.”

What happens after a beauty apprenticeship?

The real question is, how far do you want to go?

90% of apprentices go into work for further training after completing their apprenticeship. Some even stay on with the same employer.

Salon experience doesn’t mean that you have to spend all your time there. Although some apprentices become owners and managers of their own salons, others work in luxury spas, go freelance or even work on cruise ships or TV.

The world is your straightener because if that’s not enough, you could work your way to becoming the next John Frieda – who also started his hairdressing career working in his father’s salon as an apprentice.

If this sounds like the career path for you, sign up today for our apprenticeship job alerts!

Maybe Frenchy should’ve done the same. She could’ve avoided being in that awful sequel.