Accreditation and qualifications …. (England)

When you see a course advertised what’s your first thoughts? Price? Location? Maybe who the trainer is.

Did you give much consideration to how valuable that certificate will be?

I decided to take a look into the world of accreditation when changing my courses and well it’s like pandoras box. I spoke to a range of accreditation companies, training providers and those that set the benchmarks and hopefully this guide will help

So here goes …


A qualification is gained via an awarding body approved course, such as –

  • VTCT
  • City and guilds
  • ITEC

Awarding bodies are regulated by ofqual

By gaining qualifications you are going to face less official issue. Such as gaining in insurance, been approved to teach and working in other counties. It doesn’t guarantee the course will be the best but it’s the most respected certificate to have.

What is OFQUAL? They are the government department that regulates qualifications, exams and tests in England.

OFQUAL regulated courses will give you a level of education ranging from level 1-8 and are nationally recognised.

It is only a qualification if it was gained this way.

Please see the link for a full break down

To gain a qualification you must have a set amount of guided learning hours, complete a portfolio of evidence and be assessed. You must clearly demonstrate you reach all of the national occupational standards and evidence it, this will be guided in your assessment book.


what does accreditation mean, isn’t it the same but just shorter?

Actually no, the easiest way to explain this is to explain the accreditation process

Starting with who are these mystery people accrediting courses, they must be a board of industry experts right? Hmmmm actually no (although some are)

What is accreditation

Basically, it is external recognition that demonstrates that you can adhere to the recognised official standards. In theory this means you have been assessed and demonstrated to reach the occupational standards for the subject you are learning and show competence.

To become an accreditation company, you apply to … actually you apply to nobody, anyone can set up an accreditation company.

They should demonstrate that they comply with GDPR and must also show how they plan to audit and test organisations certification process… but it doesn’t mean they have to.

As far as I am aware accreditation companies do not need any particular experience or qualifications and the main requirement is that they can prove your measurability and audits. That said there is no official regulation with this and accreditation companies would have very little come back to them.

So what we have in some cases is people judging course materials and passing them who don’t have (in my opinion) the backed up experience or knowledge. I think the question should be asked why this authority is given out so freely given its impact on the industry.

To deliver accredited courses you must apply to one of the many accreditation companies and have your courses approved.

The experience and quality here differ considerably, with some not requiring any kind of teaching qualification, to those that require to asses students work before giving certification.

The only one that I have personally seen that follows a robust process is BABTAC, with a board of experts and signing off students work, so the trainers are accountable.

At present most accreditation companies have no system in place to quality check courses or trainers and they are left to it.

You may well have done a very intensive accredited course and in some cases this maybe of a higher standard than that produced by an OFQUAL provider, but it would still be accredited and not a qualification so please do make sure you know the difference.

Regardless of if it is accredited or regulated they should be in accordance with National occupational standards, which in our industry is HABIA, please see link.

When writing courses, you should use this frame work and as a student this should be a guide to what you will be learning.. if it doesn’t match this move on to another trainer.  

When do you need which?

Skills building

This is probably the simplest to deal with as this won’t affect your insurance.

For example, you might be a qualified lash artist wanting to learn about lash styling, or a nail tech wanting to learn some new nail art techniques. The certification at the end of this won’t affect your insurance policy. A simple certificate of attendance is fine, an accreditation certificate is a bonus


Continued professional development should be part of your job, especially in the beauty industry. 

It’s advisable that you have a core Nationally recognised qualification before doing CPD courses. Often insurance companies won’t cover you unless you have those core qualification’s first as CPD is considered an add on skill or an update. Therefore, they expect you to have the prior knowledge needed to do the course.

CPD can also include attending trade events, conferences, webinars and many other things.


This is so difficult and really dependent on your trade and I’m writing this to cover a broad spectrum. So trades such as eyelash extensions and nail techs are normally ok with CPD style certification but insurance companies may not cover beauty therapists for accredited courses unless they have completed a OFQUAL qualification first.

Accreditations is hard to pigeonhole and its leading to a lot of misleading information. The key is in the insurance stipulations and what they need from you.

There are many courses allowing people to train in subjects such as microneedling with no experience but when you check with insurance companies, they won’t validate a claim unless you had a level 3 national qualification first, basically making the certificate worthless.

So I would recommend you always check with your insurance company first before doing any accredited course and get it in writing that they would cover you in the event of a claim and their conditions for it.

Summary – To decide on your route I think you need to work out your objectives and risk assess; this is a diverse industry and we need to be mindful of that.

For example, if you only ever plan to specialise in lash lifts then the sensible route would to be do the best accredited course you can find, that will give you the best skills.

If you plan to go into advanced skincare such as microneedling then you really need to consider an OFQUAL qualification and build on that or it will limit your options considerably

Ofqual qualifications

There is many reasons you will need to choose this route and up until around a decade ago it was the only option.

In the case of many advanced treatments, you will need a level 3 qualification first. For example, in many cases to do microneedling you will need a level 3 qualification first to be insurable. This is not always the case though, in rare cases if the courses demonstrate it mimics national ofqual level of assessment some respected insurance providers will cover this.

To teach- If you wish to teach ofqual approved courses in the future you will need to have the relevant qualification in what you are teaching. This often means those who have done accredited courses have to redo their qualifications to teach the subject.

To guarantee you can always get insurance with all providers, as you have been assessed in line with government standards

You would also need ofqual recognised qualifications to teach in another country.

In summary, do you research, not only into the training provider but also to who will be accrediting the course. Speak to insurance companies and if you are struggling to find insurance for the course that should be a red flag.

Unfortunately the awarding body route does not guarantee good training, but it does mean you are fully insurable.

The best case is to have at least 1 recognised qualification and then additional training off experts in their field/

I hope this has helped and hasn’t confused you more