Stamp of Approval

Stamp of Approval

Short courses are a great way to learn something new, but they're very different to official qualifications. Here we sift the fact from the fiction so you and your clients are confident about what your new skill sets mean....

It’s not just clients that get confused about the beauty qualifications their therapists are armed with. Beauty professionals, training providers and employers can be left scratching their head too, without realising there’s a big difference between a qualification and an accredited training course. Which is why we asked Lesley Blair, Chair of BABTAC and CIBTAC to unpick the details so everyone knows where they stand when it comes to education and upskilling. Here’s your cut out and keep guide to everything you need to know:

What is the difference between a qualification and accreditation?
The simple explanation is that qualifications are developed and issued by Awarding Organisations (such as our sister company CIBTAC) and often listed on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF), which is the national framework of UK qualifications.
An accredited course is often shorter in length and has been approved by a professional body such as BABTAC. These bodies should carry out quality assurance of training manuals to ensure the content of the course is fit for purpose and covers sufficient hours and knowledge to enable someone to gain insurance to practice. An accredited course should be viewed as a CPD (continued professional development) or an introduction to certain techniques and treatments and not as a stand-alone “qualification” as it generally is by some in the industry. Ideally short courses should be seen as a ‘top up’ to your existing qualifications or a stepping stone to a full qualification.

How many types of qualifications are there and who issues and regulates them?
In the UK there are a wide range of qualification types offered by the Awarding Organisations and they can be academic, vocational or skills-related. Qualifications range in size and type and are grouped together into different levels of difficulty which varies depending on which of the UK nations you live in. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, qualifications are divided into Higher Education qualifications, which are on the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ) and are awarded by bodies with degree awarding powers, and Regulated qualifications, which are on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) and are accredited by Ofqual in England, CCEA in Northern Ireland and QW in Wales. In Scotland, qualifications are divided into Higher Education qualifications, SQA and Scottish Vocational Qualifications/Modern Apprenticeships, all of which are on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF).

Qualification types in the UK include:

  • Functional Skills - qualifications that allow the learners to acquire practical skills such as English, Maths, and ICT. In Scotland, Functional Skills are known as Core Skills.
  • Entry Level Qualifications - for learners not yet ready for the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). The Standard Grade is equivalent to Entry Level Qualifications in Scotland.
  • GSCEs Qualifications - usually taken by 14 to 16 year olds, also available to adults. The Higher in Scotland is equivalent to the GSCEs.
  • A and AS Level Qualifications - for learners who want to get a deeper knowledge of a subject, usually studied by 16 and 18 years olds who have completed their GSCEs. Learners in Scotland who have completed Highers usually take Advanced Higher.
  • International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma - an internationally recognised qualification which is an alternative to the A and AS Level Qualifications. Although the IB programmes are grouped into Level 3 of the QCF, they are widely regarded to be more difficult than the A and AS Levels.
  • Vocational Qualifications - work-related qualifications that are specifically designed to help the learners acquire work-related knowledge and skills. Vocational Qualifications are available at different levels which can be compared to other qualifications. Vocational Qualification Level 3 for instance is equivalent to A Level Qualifications.
  • Higher Education Qualifications - roughly corresponding to levels 4 to 8 in the QCF, however, qualifications such as Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, and doctorates remain a part of the FHEQ. In the SCQF, they correspond to levels 7 to 12.

Do short courses have various levels?
This is another big difference between a qualification and an SCA as only regulated qualifications have an official level assigned to them. These levels reveal the difficulty of the acquired qualification however due to the industry not having mandatory regulation, some training providers incorrectly advertise their training as a certain level. This is very confusing for the learner as they may think it is a qualification and it is also misleading to the client.
SCA courses are not levelled as they are an introduction to a treatment or technique, to refresh prior knowledge or a stand alone discipline. For insurance purposes, in order to be covered to carry out the treatments that you have learnt about through a short course you need to hold an accredited and verified CPD certificate, some certificates also have a pre-requisite of an appropriate regulated qualification. For a list of all the pre-requisites please take a look at our website

Who can enrol on a BABTAC SCA?
Anyone can complete an introduction course. This will enable them to decide if they would like to continue their learning to achieve a qualification. For qualified therapists there are CPD courses available to further develop their knowledge and skills and there is a pre-requisite qualification required for some of these BABTAC CPD courses.

What benefits do you receive from taking a short course?
The holders of BABTAC certificates can be assured that a rigorous application process has been followed by the training organisation, and as from 1st January 2019, all short courses accredited by BABTAC are mapped to the National Occupational Standards (NOS) to ensure the correct contra-indications and relevant underpinning anatomy and physiology are included. In addition, at BABTAC we issue all certificates to ensure the authenticity of our courses. This allows us to keep a database with all learners holding this certification. Any certificates not produced by BABTAC in-house (since 1st January 2016) are not a valid accreditation and will not be covered for insurance purposes. Unlike some accreditors BABTAC ask the providers of the training to write their own manuals.

How do qualifications and accreditation affect your insurance?
Qualifications and Accreditations are a vital part of a good insurance policy.  At BABTAC, we verify the quality of the course you have completed to ensure that you are suitably trained and therefore correctly insured.  Without a formal qualification or accredited certificate (with supporting pre-requisite qualification where necessary), we are unable to guarantee the quality of the training course you have completed, and therefore would not cover you for insurance.

Do you have any tips on how to choose the best SCA course?​
It is imperative that any potential learner, requiring a course accredited by BABTAC, does their homework and checks the BABTAC website ( to ensure the course is accredited with us. If you are unsure of the integrity or validity of a course, you can always phone the SCA team to double check on 01452 623110 option 3.

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