HNC/HND Beauty Therapy

Higher National qualifications provide practical skills and theoretical knowledge that meet the needs of employers. The Higher National Certificate (HNC) and Higher National Diploma (HND) in Beauty Therapy (SCQF level 7 and 8) develop knowledge, skills and sound understanding along with practical expertise in all aspects of the beauty therapy industry, thereby enabling candidates to work confidently and competently within this industry.

This qualification covers areas such as Applied Anatomy and Physiology, Professional Salon Skills, face and body treatment packages, Promotional and Selling Skills and Professional Salon Skills.

This qualification shares a range of optional Units with other qualifications and can be offered alongside other qualifications.

The HNC and HND in Beauty Therapy (SCQF level 7 and 8) can build on the knowledge and skills of the SVQ Beauty Therapy SCQF Level 6 and/or National Certificate Group Award in Beauty Care at SCQF Level 6.

This qualification is available through colleges, training providers and some universities. Typically an HNC takes one year to complete (full time) and an HND takes two years (full time). These will also be available for part-time/flexible delivery.

The following optional guidance can be used to support delivery and assessment as an alternative to the approaches outlined in the Group Award / Unit specification.

Optional assessment guidance 2023-24

Higher National qualifications have been developed by SQA in partnership with colleges, universities and industry ¿ so employers recognise that they provide sound evidence of ability.

The unit-based structure supports flexibility. A unit is typically 40 hours of timetabled learning.

The wide choice of optional units enables centres to offer courses tailored to meet local needs.

The HNC Beauty Therapy provides a progression route to HND Beauty Therapy, which can then provide progression to degree-level study.

The HNC and HND Beauty Therapy are suitable for a wide range of candidates, including:

  • school leavers
  • adult returners to education
  • individuals in employment who wish to enhance their career prospects
  • people who wish to start their own business


As with all SQA qualifications, entry is at the discretion of the centre. Examples of formal entry qualifications include:

  • appropriate groupings of National Units.
  • National Certificates at SCQF Levels 5 or 6 in a related discipline
  • any two National Qualifications at Higher
  • an SVQ in Beauty Therapy or related areas at SCQF Levels 5 and 6.
  • relevant work experience

Different combinations of relevant National Qualifications, vocational qualifications, and equivalent qualifications from other awarding bodies may also be acceptable.

Progression and employment

Learners who achieve an HNC Beauty Therapy can progress to the HND in Beauty Therapy.

HNC/HND can provide progression to degree-level study. HND Beauty Therapy learners may progress to commercially specific training or a degree programme, for example BA (Hons) Beauty Therapy Management.

Centres with devolved authority for approval should use their own internal approval process.

Centres without devolved authority require to come forward for approval, and should contact SQA¿s Business Development Team for guidance.

Assessors and verifiers must be able to meet SQA¿s general requirements for technical/occupational competence as outlined in the Systems and Qualification Approval Guide.

Each individual unit specification gives detailed information on the evidence requirements and approaches to assessment for each unit.

Ongoing course assessment will apply.

Assessment/e-assessment support packs are available for this qualification.

HNC Beauty Therapy

Group award code: GN87 15 (96 SCQF credit points)

HNC Beauty Therapy at SCQF level 7 consists of four mandatory units (48 SCQF credit points) and between three and six optional Units (to total 48 SCQF credit points).

HND Beauty Therapy

Group award code: GN88 16 (240 SCQF credit points)

HND Beauty Therapy at SCQF level 8 consists of nine mandatory units (104 SCQF credit points), a minimum of two restricted mandatory credits to total 16 SCQF credit points, and 11-15 optional units to total 120 SCQF credit points.