Looking for an aesthetics training course? It can be hard to choose given that there are so many. But aesthetics courses vary widely. While some will give you the bare essentials, others will stand you in good stead for setting out as an incredible aesthetic practitioner with the potential to start your own successful business - all while treating patients safely. I spoke with three leading aesthetic training course providers - Harley Academy, SkinViva and Acquisition Aesthetics - to find out what you should be looking for in a training course…
Are all aesthetics training courses the same? If not, how so?
At a first glance, it might seem like you can get everything you need from any aesthetics course. However, Dr Tristan Mehta, founder of Harley Academy - pioneers of the Level 7 in Injectables for Aesthetic Medicine - explains, “training courses vary from one-day courses right through to Masters degrees, so they’re definitely not all the same. The minimum requirement is enough to get you a certificate and insurance, but that really isn’t enough for a safe and successful career in aesthetics.”
Dr Tim Pearce, medical director and founder of SkinViva, adds “when it comes to the different aesthetics courses out there, group sizes vary greatly. Whilst some training providers offer one-to-one training, it’s not uncommon for group sizes to consist of ten or more to one trainer.”
He explains, “course scope also varies. There are one-day courses that cover everything, modular-based courses that follow a sequential pathway, custom-built qualifications designed by the training provider in conjunction with an awarding body, regulated vocational qualifications under the governance of Ofqual and, finally, university post-graduate qualifications.
When it comes to treatments, some companies don’t have the experience to cover all areas of the face. For example, tear trough dermal filler training and liquid rhinoplasty require very advanced trainers, so some training schools don’t include these on their syllabus.
You may also want to consider the established history of a course. There’s a plethora of new training courses out there now, but their experience and history is short, whereas some training schools have been around much longer. For example, SkinViva was established in 2013.
One last thing to consider, when it comes to differences between courses, is the quality of models being used. Sourcing suitable models varies considerably between training courses, but they should be the right age, have proper background checks and have the right indications.”
According to Dr Priyanka Chadha and Dr Lara Watson, directors of Acquisition Aesthetics, while there are some similarities, “ not all training experiences are of the same quality and calibre. Some will have unique selling points which make them the best choice for your personal training needs. The courses themselves will differ – with some intended for those just starting out in aesthetics and others for the more experienced practitioner looking to develop their skills. Advanced practitioners can also consider more focused training, looking at one or two key treatment techniques to enhance their portfolio and take their practice to the next level.
Some courses will be CPD accredited, and others not. Most notably, some academies have the accreditation to offer a nationally recognised Level 7 qualification in aesthetics – the current gold standard and benchmark for training in the UK. Whilst some academies stand head and shoulders above the rest, aside from some key criteria to look out for – the choice is a personal one, and it’s advisable to decide after thorough research, including examining the reviews of those who have gone before you.
We also recommend researching the trainers that teach on the courses provided. Are they credible experts in their field? Do they publish in key aesthetics journals and contribute to conferences and other key events? Are they relatable, current and do they command a genuine following on social media? These factors will help ensure you learn how to build your own successful aesthetics business in an increasingly competitive market.”
What should aspiring aesthetic practitioners look for in a training course?
Given that there are so many differences between training providers, those looking to enter the industry and find a training course will likely want to do their research. So, what exactly should you be looking for in an aesthetics course?
Well, Dr Tristan Mehta suggests “that aspiring practitioners look for an in-depth course that is focused on structured, hands-on training. Group sessions are an old and ineffective training method. We live in the digital age, and theory can now be delivered online beforehand to help provide more flexibility. Another thing I would highly recommend when looking for an aesthetics training course is to ensure there’s ongoing support.”
On top of this, Dr Tim Pearce states that you should be looking for “small group sizes to maximise close-up observation and hands-on practical experience.” He explains that there should ideally be no more than 4 to a trainer, but that this is not always possible. He also advises “looking at how many models or treatments the trainee will actually get to work on. There’s no substitute for hands-on practise.”
Not only this but Dr Tim also suggests considering CPD points or a qualification “to ensure that the training you do is recognised by professional bodies.” He also advises that you “check with the training course to see how much focus there is on complications and complication management.”
According to Dr Tim, you’ll want to ensure the course has adequate insurance to make sure you’re suitably covered, and check course reviews. He says, “everyone should be looking at reviews, how far back they go, what the bad reviews say and whether they mention after-course support. Both SkinViva and Harley Academy offer after-course groups on Facebook. Ours has thousands of practitioners on there these days and operates as its own ecosystem.”
Dr Lara and Dr Pryinanka add, “when researching which aesthetics course is right for you, an experienced and highly trained faculty is one of the most important factors. Preferably, aesthetics practitioners who are already finding success in the industry and who are key opinion leaders. Some also come from NHS surgical backgrounds (especially plastic surgery) and a faculty of this calibre will set you in good stead to receive the very best training.”
They explain, “you should also consider the entry criteria for the academy to ensure you are training amongst like-minded peers, and whether post-course support and mentoring is offered once you graduate. Hands-on injecting practice on live models helps to cement any theoretical learning you have covered, but ensure the training group sizes offered are sufficiently small, to allow for close supervision and an enhanced learning experience with directed and personalised feedback to learn.”
What would be your top tips for anyone looking to move into aesthetics?
So, what do the experts recommend when it comes to starting up in the aesthetics industry? Dr Tristan says, “if you’re planning to become an aesthetic practitioner, the goal is to become a specialist, not a technician. Don't go on a course to 'learn how to do lip filler' or 'learn how to do Botox'. Instead, approach aesthetics as a new career and you are beginning a journey into the speciality. You should always know why you are delivering a treatment (in a certain patient, with a certain product and a certain technique), not just how. Patients will always know the difference between a practitioner who appreciates this, and how it impacts their treatment plan. In the long run, this means you'll have more loyal clients and a better business.
Another thing to consider is that it will take years to get there, so you’ll need to be patient! A career in aesthetics shouldn’t be taken lightly or without much thought. Expect to invest up to £20,000 in education and starting your business if you want to take aesthetics seriously.
From a technical point of view, don’t be worried about learning complex or dangerous areas such as tear troughs and noses early on in your training. With time and the right help, you’ll be competent and confident.
Also, don't be worried about the competition. Aesthetics is a growing market, and there are more and more patients every day looking for treatments by skilled, qualified medical professionals.”
According to Dr Tim Pearce, you should “start by really thinking about what you want to achieve – do you want a lifestyle business (you operating as the practitioner with maybe a bit of admin support), or is this a part-time hobby alongside your main work e.g. NHS, or do you want to be the next big corporate player. Getting clear at the start will make decision making easier as you progress, because laying the foundations starts from the get-go. For example, you’ll need to think about what CRM to pick, how much time to spend networking, and whether you work with a business partner.
Ensure you get specific insurance designed for aesthetics work – Hamilton Fraser and Cosmetic Insure are the two big brokers in the industry. And don’t try and learn everything at once – avoid entry-level courses that are aimed at teaching you as many areas of the face as possible. It’s simply not possible to master it all at once.”
Dr Tim also advises making a business plan. He explains, “it doesn’t have to be the world’s best but something to get you thinking and to share your ideas with others. The basics of pricing, costs and profit are KEY before you start - We have a free downloadable template that makes this easy - https://drtimpearce.com/resources/annual-profit-calculator/
Finally, think about safety, safety, safety. Ensure you know what to do and who to contact if or when something goes wrong. Training courses vary considerably by how much they cover complications and also how much they support you when things go wrong. SkinViva has a downloadable free protocol you can point practitioners towards for emergencies. We also have a very detailed guide on the most common types of complications in our blog.”
For Dr Priyanka and Dr Lara, “robust training is the foundation upon which you will launch your aesthetics career, so take the time to make an informed decision about your chosen academy. Once you’re ready to get going, network, network, network! Attend industry events, check out conferences and talks with industry experts, and link up with both your local and wider aesthetics community. Utilise social platforms to boost your visibility in the sector, ensuring you add value to your followers and readers.
Never rest on your laurels; this industry is fast-paced and rapidly expanding. Stay ahead of the curve by keeping on the pulse of patient demand and upskilling yourself accordingly. A passion for aesthetics alongside tenacity and hard work will see you reaping professional satisfaction, greater autonomy, and financial reward from this exciting industry.”
So, there you have it. Not all aesthetics training course providers are the same. However, now you should be armed with what to look for, and understand what’s important for ensuring you select the course that’s right for you and your future in aesthetics.