This page provides employers with detailed information about the various qualifications in the hair, beauty and spa industry.

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) are work-related, competence based qualifications that allow learners to work and train in a salon, spa or training centre with progress measured through ongoing, continuous assessment - not by time-serving or exams.

All NVQs/SVQs are made up of separate units that set out exactly what a learner must be able to do and to what standard. Each unit is like a mini qualification, representing a training target for building up credits towards a final certificate.

The overall NVQ/SVQ is achieved through continuous assessment and training.

Apprenticeships are not qualifications in their own right. Instead they are a framework containing various elements combining on-the-job and off-the-job training.

Learners spend time in a business working towards a work-based qualification and time with a training provider working towards a technical qualification and transferable skills.

Although different types of Apprenticeship are available and there are differences between England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, all Apprenticeships follow the same basic pattern:
  • A work based qualification that is designed to ensure the apprentice is job ready, such as an NVQ/SVQ Diploma at either Level 2 or 3
  • Transferable skills qualifications such as communication, application of number and ICT
  • Employment Rights and Responsibilities (ERR).

Foundation Degrees (England only)
Foundation degrees are work-based Higher Education qualifications. They are normally delivered in Further Education colleges in partnership with a university. At the end of the Foundation degree, which is a stand-alone Higher Education qualification, there is the option to progress to an Honours degree.

Foundation degrees develop higher-level management skills that staff need to help businesses flourish, as well as providing a progression route from NVQ Level 3 to Higher Education.

Foundation degrees also provide workplace opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge required to function at a higher level in a salon, whilst also encouraging abilities such as team building, evaluation, analysis and problem solving.

Habia develops the sector frameworks for Foundation degrees.

Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification (WBQ)
The Principal Learning Qualification in Hair and Beauty Studies (HBS) is a new and exciting work-focused qualification that has been designed to support young people taking early steps to explore the hair and beauty sector with a view to career choice, a general interest in the sector, work-related training and/or further and higher education. (This is a tailored version of the Principal Learning delivered in England to meet the requirements of the Welsh Baccalaureate).

The qualification is accessible at three different levels (Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced) and is designed to meet the needs of young people according to their age, ability and interests.

For more information, go to our Welsh Baccalaureate site.

Occupational Standards
Developed by Habia, National Occupational Standards (NOS) are the basis of training in hair, beauty, nails and spa and form the backbone of programmes such as NVQs, SVQs and Apprenticeships as well as Codes of Practice.

They are frameworks that describe what an individual needs to do, know and understand in order to carry out a particular job role or function in a particular industry.

Habia creates the standards for hairdressing, beauty therapy, nail services, spa therapy, barbering and African type hair.

Standards can help you:
  • Identify skills and knowledge needed for occupations
  • Provide a reference to assess ability and training needs
  • Identify and support clear career paths
  • Provide guidelines for certification/accreditation
  • Increase your job mobility.

Principal Learning
The Level 2 Principal Learning Qualification in Hair and Beauty was a part of the Diploma in Hair and Beauty Studies and now is used within schools as singular qualification and is equivalent to one GCSE.

The Level 2 Principal Learning Qualification in Hair and Beauty provides learners with an opportunity to develop and apply a range of skills and knowledge within the hair and beauty sector and allow learners to make an informed decision as to potential employment or progression to further/higher education.

Principal Learning can :
  • Introduce learners to the hair and beauty sector providing a gateway to complementary sectors
  • Take the learners on a journey of discovery of the hair and beauty sector as a whole, providing them with an increasingly rigorous programme of study
  • Challenge any preconceptions and stereotypes of the hair and beauty sector and allow learners to make an informed career choice
  • Provide learners with a realistic hands-on practical experience of the sector
  • Facilitate further development of the individual and their Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills
  • Provide a clear progression route to an NVQ or apprenticeship programme as the preferred entry route into the sector.