What to study to become a Beauty Therapist?

Curious about studying towards a Beauty Therapist career? Sandra Mokoena breaks down the finer details of what you need to know.

I dream of one day opening up my own Sorbet salon. Currently I am a beauty therapist who works for Sorbet, which is a really nice franchise to work for. It’s growing substantially and it’s only been my second year here so far. I completed a three-year diploma in Somatology at the Tshwane University of Technology, followed by a BTech in Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Making the Difficult Decision

I attended Falesizwe Secondary School in Frankfort, Free State. During high school I did pure Math, Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, LO, Sesotho, English as a second language, and Afrikaans as an additional second language.

To begin with I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was at school and there wasn’t much guidance. During Life Orientation in Grade 11 we needed to do some research in the public library on careers. This is where I found out about Biomedical Sciences. My second option was to pursue a beauty career. Although the library had two computers, I was not computer literate and did not know how to use computers. I received information about career options through chatting to people and reading dozens of books in the library.

My original plan was to apply for Biomedical Sciences but I found out that I had missed the required Academic Proficiency Test (APS) required. Too late! So then I looked at my second choice – Beauty Therapy. The requirements for this diploma were easier. There was no pressure to make decisions, but financially there was and I didn’t know how to fund my education. In turn, I ended up taking a gap year, where I found out about the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). My ticket towards studying!

What to expect?

The National Diploma in Somatology at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) is a three-year full-time course. Thereafter you can do BTech Somatology (full-time one year course) or BTech Pharmaceutical Sciences (one year part-time). This is like an Honour’s year, where you apply for BTech courses. A Masters option is also available.

I chose to do BTech Pharmaceutical Sciences, after my Diploma. My advice to you is to do the BTech immediately after your diploma. Stay focused on your studies and don’t wait. Juggling work and focusing on your studies is difficult. There was no time for a part-time job during my studies. The workload is demanding and there are a lot of practicals, community service and case studies you need to do at home.

I didn’t do any job shadowing  nor community service beforehand, but as stated earlier, the course was intense. We did, however, do Community Service during the Diploma years with cancer patients at Little Co of Mary, a private hospital in Pretoria, which was rewarding.

Core subjects needed to apply for BTech Somatology:

  • English (home language or first additional language)
  • Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy
  • Life Sciences or Physical Sciences

BTech Pharmaceutical Sciences involves:

  • Clinical trials
  • Quality of Medicine
  • Registrations of Medicine
  • Good Clinical Practice
  • Biopharmaceutics
  • Formulations of Dosage
  • Pharmaceutical Packaging

To note: Five of these subjects are chosen to study. 

Advice and Suggestions:

I enjoyed the practical aspect of my course, but to be honest, if you are completely focused on Beauty Therapy and nothing else, I would suggest doing a variety of short courses through other institutions. Go straight to alternative beauty colleges such as Camelot International that do not include subjects such as Nutrition, Maths, Physical Sciences and Microbiology etc. For me it has been very easy finding a job but I have realized that this is not necessarily a field where you end up making lots of money unless you have your own business.

There are certain requirements for specific degrees. If you intend on applying for Biomedical Sciences, then don’t forget to do an APS testing. Since I missed the APS testing to apply for Biomedical Sciences, I decided to pursue Beauty Therapy, which ended up being the right course for me. It has opened up doors into wider fields other than just working in a laboratory. If your heart lies in Biomedical Sciences though, make sure you do an APS testing.

Once your studies are completed you can become a Pharmaceutical Representative, a Quality Assurer for Medical/Beauty companies, a Regulator at any Pharmaceutical company, or CRA in Clinical Trials to ensure they are following the law, to mention a few.

What was useful for me?

I found attending lectures the most useful part of University. Coming from a government school, I found that I had not been taught to research and work independently.  Therefore my worst experience at varsity was failing two of my six subjects, whilst studying BTech Pharmaceutical Sciences part-time. Although I have realized how difficult it is to work and study at the same time, I was shocked, as it was my first time failing ever.

On a good note, the best thing about my University experience has been all the people I have met and friends I have made. I know who is going to design my wedding dress one day and my wedding ring, who will take my wedding pictures and who will be my house interior designer will be. Therefore just remember to work hard, play hard and make wonderful memories.

EduConnect 2cents

Not being accepted into your first choice is a terrible feeling. You feel like you’ve failed yourself and those around you. Luckily the career world is so diverse that there are many options that are similar to the first option, that could be more suited to you. Not being accepted is not the end of the world, it may feel like it, but keep your eyes and heart open and you might just find something you truly love doing.