Confused, NVQ or company?


Help Support SalonGeek:


New Member
Aug 10, 2020
Reaction score

I am looking into becoming a nail technician, I have stalked this site for a few months now to do my research but I am still confused.

Most members in the threads say to complete a professional qualification in some capacity so that you will be insured. Is this the same thing as completing a training course with a specific brand. For example, i have no professional experience in doing nails so can I complete a course with CND (eg) and be qualified to complete gel nails? Will this allow me to be insured or will it have to be a NVQnor the likes.
Another question, if learning at college I suspect they will use a certain brand at the school which may not be the “best” - how do you decide which brand to go for without running up huge initial costs.

thank you for reading


Super Moderator
Staff member
Premium Geek
Aug 11, 2011
Reaction score
West Cork, Ireland
Some local authorities require salons to purchase a treatment license from them in order to operate and part of their requirements is that staff hold a minimum of a level 2 VRQ.

I’d recommend competing your level 2 and then looking at addition brand specific training.


Brush Slayer Geek
Premium Geek
Jun 24, 2003
Reaction score
Brighton, East Sussex
With companies like CND yes as their training is accredited and insurable.

Chosing training is a nightmare and good training is not cheap.

Use the search option on here to check whoever you are considering, if there's no results then feel free to post asking about that provider specifically


Well-Known Member
Mar 9, 2014
Reaction score
It is really confusing isn’t it!

So basically you have to have a portfolio of qualifications. A general CIBTAC (the UK industry standard) or CIDESCO (The international standard) or level 2/3 course covering most of what you need to know, plus some private courses to give you extra skills to make you employable for industry. You can’t take your college qualification out into the world and think you’re absolutely ready to work, anymore than you can train at Uni in management or teaching or medicine and then go straight off and do the job.

Some local Councils will require you to hold nationally recognised qualifications, and without them you are always vulnerable to accusations of professional negligence - it can be argued by trading standards, Council Officers or a solicitor that it isn’t reasonable to set up in business without a basic foundation qualification. I know salon owners who have trained at private beauty schools that have been successfully prosecuted on this point.

All college training will include some brand awareness training. Your fellow students will want to know more and your tutors will have lots of experience of different brands. Colleges put a lot of thought into their brands, you’d be surprised. Brands do a lot of outreach support to colleges and using a good brand and receiving brand training is part of employability training. I had to buy my college apprentice an OPI kit.

You do have to invest. You can buy a few products at a trade show or at Sallys to try at home.

A CIBTAC or level 2/3 course takes quite a while to design, so the training often lags behind the industry. On my CIDESCO course gel nail polish wasn’t part of the syllabus but obviously it was very important to learn. My school offered a brand certificate and we all learned gel nails and received an attendance certificate. We weren’t examined in our proficiency and there were no case studies. I have to say that the gel nail training (which was just half a day) wasn’t very good. There was no support for trouble shooting quality control issues

After your qualification comes your post qualification industry training and work experience. You can take one day courses with several brands and this is often a way to learn about their products. Some brands require you to invest in a professional start up kit, which becomes pricey, but not every brand requires this.

So after my private school CIDESCO course I trained with Bio Sculpture, a highly respected brand. During my training I learned alongside complete novices to the beauty industry. There is no way that the novices reached the same knowledge or practical level as a college course, and there was no way that I reached the standard of a level 3 nail tech.

In spite of this, Brand courses are very good and people speak very highly of their training experience - the practical training is excellent and includes tips to become really very good indeed. All the tutors are highly skilled practically, more so than college lecturers in my experience. There are lots of training resources available to help you develop your skills way beyond the college qualification standard.

A brand course expects you to practise and study in your own time. The manuals are excellent but much thinner than a college course text book. Anatomy is really skimped. Nail conditions are included but not much else and anatomy is quite a dry subject to absorb just by reading. It really sticks a lot better if a tutor actually teaches you - and I’m a learner who likes reading and learns best that way! There was no training at all on all UK regulations on my brand course and it isn’t included in my manual.

If you have the right background to help you launch any business, training with a brand is a good option and a viable alternative to college, as long as you understand that you won’t be taught everything you need to know and you’ll have to fill in gaps in your knowledge and understanding. You won’t be employable in industry without a CIBTAC or CIDESCO or level 2/3 qualification though - you can only work for yourself. Insurance is tricky without an underpinning foundation qualification.

I can’t tell you whether you get all the training you need to set up in business from a reputable brand like OPI or CND (because I haven’t done their training) but I’d say that it would definitely be worth reading a beauty therapy text book all the way through in addition. There are over 400 pages in most text books and very little practical instruction is included - it’s all theory. Very little of the theory relates to specific skills, most of it is important for any beauty professional.
Last edited:

Latest posts