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  • Writer's pictureEmalene Grove

Accredited – What Does It Really Mean in Beauty and Aesthetic Training Sector?

Updated: Dec 5, 2022

  • Are you confused about those terms in training and education sector?

  • Don’t know what to look for when it comes to choosing a training provider?

  • Not sure what exactly you’ll get from a training course?

You are not alone! We have come across many similar questions. To make the matter worse, sometimes some training providers choose their words ‘cleverly’ to make themselves look more credible. So we decided to write a series of blogs in order to to answer some of the most common queries, bust some myths and help you understand what is available out there. As a result, we hope you can ask the right questions when you’re communicating with a training provider.

What is ‘Accreditation’? Or, what does ‘accredited training provider really mean?

Cambridge Dictionary defines ‘Accredited’ as: officially recognised or approved. In aesthetic and beauty training sector, this means that the training centre or the training course has been through certain processes and been recognised by one or more different organisations.

So, if a training provider says that they are ‘accredited’, it means that they are recognised by a third organisation.

However, the most important element is actually missing in this statement: by who? Who is that organisation that provides the centre with such recognition? To what standard? Does this organisation have enough authority and credibility? What about the accreditation process? How does this course related to the OFQUAL framework?

In order to really understand how credible the training provider or training course is, you need to know who are the organisations that provide them with accreditation.

What are the common organisations available in the UK that accredit beauty and aesthetic training courses?

There are mainly 5 types of organisations that provide accreditation services to training providers and their courses:

  1. OFQUAL Recognised Awarding Bodies

  2. Independent Accreditation Bodies

  3. CPD Services

  4. Insurance Companies

  5. Professional Organisations

We will explain each of them in detail:

1. OFQUAL Recognised Awarding Bodies

These are the ones like CIBTAC, VTCT, City & Guilds. The qualifications they provide usually sit within QCF (Regulated Qualifications) framework, which specifies difficulty (Level) and the time required (Award, Certificate, Diploma) of the qualifications.

You can generally identify a qualification from such awarding bodies by its name. For example, a typical OFQUAL recognised qualification would look something like:

  • VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Beauty Therapy Treatments

  • CIBTAC Level 4 Certificate in Laser and Light Therapies (which is one of the qualifications that we offer at School of Aesthetic A.R.T)

These awarding bodies have developed such qualifications, and they usually carry out the assessment, too. The training centres’ main role is to deliver these qualifications.

To be able to provide these qualifications, a training provider usually goes through a rigid process. This is to make sure that the provider have the appropriate experience, resources, policies and quality assurance procedures to meet learners’ needs.

2. Independent Accreditation Bodies

These are the ones like Open Collage Network. The advantages of being independent is that these organisations are usually unbiased. Compared to OFQUAL recognised awarding bodies, independent bodies can also react quicker to meet the industry demand, while still emphasis on quality assurance and learner experience.

The industry is fast changing and new technologies and treatments are emerging at a great pace. Official Awarding Bodies sometimes are slow to catch up. For example, according to HEE Guideline, Fractional Laser treatments would be at Level 6. However, there isn’t actually any OFQUAL recognised Level 6 laser qualifications out there – this is where Independent Accreditation Bodies comes: they can certify that a certain qualification meets the required industry level and standard, and they have external verifying process to monitor centre operation to ensure that learners’ education and training needs are met.

For example, our Fractional Laser training course is independently accredited by OCN-Credit4Learning.

3. CPD Services

There are various CPD organisations available: CPD UK, The CPD Standards Office, CPD Accreditation Group…

CPD stands for Continuing Professional Development. It is the track of activities that you take both formally and informally beyond initial training as you work. As a result, it can be anything from conference, seminar, to self-directed study.

If compare a CPD certificate with the ones issued by the above 2 types of organisations, main differences are:

  • CPD recognise the time that has been spent on the learning activities, not the outcome of learning or the the quality of learning

  • CPD usually doesn’t require assessment – thinking about those CPD conferences you’ve attend at industry shows, as long as your badge is scanned, you will get a CPD certificate of the relavent time you’ve spent.

As a result, using CPD itself to recognise training is limited.

At School of Aesthetic ART for example, if you wish to obtain a CPD certificate for your advanced aesthetic trainings, we can provide. However, we consider your course certificate (which is independently recognised) is more credible than a CPD certificate on its own.

4. Insurance Companies

Such as ABT Accreditation, Hamilton Fraser accreditation…

This means that the training courses has been through recognition process by these specific insurance companies. Learners who have completed these courses can generally get insurance cover from these companies as well. This does make sense from a business operation’s point of view, which provide a seamless service to practitioners who have learned a new skill and would like to get insurance cover for that new treatment.

However, unlike the organisations we talked about above, insurance companies don’t necessarily have the relavent training and education authority and independent credibility to recognise the quality of training: including level, time, assessment, and quality assurance of the course and the training provider.

Therefore, if a training course is only recognised by an insurance company, we wouldn’t consider its sufficient enough to ensure the quality of training.

5. Professional Organisations

Such as: Professional Beauty, Guild of Professional Beauty Therapist…

These organisations are a place where professional therapists connect. They represent the industry and provide valuable business insight and trade opportunities. These include trade shows, publications, industry awards, and memberships to therapists and salons.

However, similar to Insurance Companies, professional organisations don’t necessarily have the relavent authority when it comes to recognise the quality of training. For example, if a lash extension course is recognised by Professional Beauty, we would consider it meets this professional organisation’s own judging criteria. But this doesn’t mean that this lash course is an OFQUAL recognised qualification, or it can be mapped to the equivalent of a recognised level, either. In this sense, how does it different from an in-house training certificate?


To be able to judge the credibility of a training provider, the word ‘accredited’ itself is not enough. You’ll need to look a bit deeper to find out who are the organisations that provide accreditation and the relavent course. There are so many

  • OFQUAL Recognised Awarding Bodies

  • Independent Accreditation Bodies

  • CPD Services

  • Insurance Companies

  • Professional Organisations

At School of Aesthetic A.R.T, the quality of training as our top priority. That is the reason why we go through the accreditation process with the organisations with the highest authority and credibility: offering OFQUAL recognised qualifications when they are available, and go through independent accreditation process for the courses when the official channels are yet to catch up with the industry speed.

A Further Note…

Did you know?

  • The difference between ‘accredited’, ‘endorsed’ and ‘approved’?

  • The difference between ‘Accredited Centre’ and ‘Accredited Course’?

We’ll explain these in our next blog.

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