Beauty Therapist vs Dermal Clinician. Beautician vs Aesthetician. Laser Therapist vs Skin Therapist. Confused yet? There are many job descriptions in the beauty and aesthetics industry. We thought we’d dive a little deeper to understand the different qualifications and scope of treatments each of these beauty practitioners can perform. 

If you are interested in a career in the world of beauty, there are many paths you can follow. From traditional beauty services such as waxing and massage, through to more complex and scientific treatments such as laser, IPL, chemical peels and skin needling, the qualifications and training required varies greatly for each position.  

In Australia, the beauty industry is predominantly self-regulated and has no formal licenses. The training between each of these roles varies significantly and they have very different responsibilities. So it’s important to understand what lies ahead if you are interested in pursuing a career in beauty and aesthetics. This is even more applicable for clients, so that they understand what qualifications and experience their therapist must have in order to perform more complex treatments. 


Beauticians can be trained on the job with no formal qualification or training. Most however do attend TAFE and have a Certificate III in Beauty Services, which generally takes around six months of study. Beauticians predominantly perform beauty services such as spray tanning, waxing/hair removal, tinting, manicures/pedicures, makeup application and eyelash extensions. Some businesses may also have beauticians perform express facials, body treatments and massage.

Beauty Therapist

A Beauty Therapist will study to achieve a Certificate IV or Diploma of Beauty Therapy. This is typically completed over a 12 month time frame. During their studies, they will learn about all of the body systems and can then offer a range of non-medical, customised services centred around beauty and spa treatments. These mostly include facials, massage, spa rituals, waxing, tinting and nails. Further in-house training may be provided by some businesses for these employees to understand cosmeceutical skincare. This will allow them to perform treatments such as microdermabrasion, superficial peels, laser/IPL and LED light therapy. These, however, are typically performed under the role of a Dermal Therapist.

Dermal Therapist

A Dermal or Skin Therapist will hold a Graduate or Advanced Diploma in Cosmetic Dermal Science. They will work in a cosmetic medical practice or dermal clinic alongside other health and cosmetic medical professionals. The curriculum covers the knowledge and skills required to perform a range of dermal therapy procedures within a cosmetic medical context, focusing on skin, cosmetic procedures and the basics of cosmeceutical science. Their scope of practice includes laser and light based treatments, epidermal resurfacing procedures, superficial peels and micro needling. 

Dermal Clinician

A Dermal Clinician has studied for four or more years to obtain a formal degree. They often work with other health professionals such as dermatologists, plastic and reconstructive surgeons. Dermal degree qualifications are the most highly regarded in the industry. Dermal Clinicians specialise in skin management and non-surgical treatments to assist with acute and chronic skin conditions, disorders and diseases. Study involves skin and wound biology, dermatological conditions and their management, physics, chemistry, psychology and general anatomy and physiology – as every system of the body can affect skin health.  They can perform advanced skin treatments such as laser/IPL, chemical peels, skin needling, dermoscopy, LED light therapy and high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU). 

Beauty Therapist vs Dermal Clinician? You decide! The following Colleges offer beauty and dermal courses, so you can start researching now.

Canberra Institute of Technology


Riverina Community College

Brisbane School of Hairdressing

CQ University


Chisholm Institute

TAFE Gippsland


The Gordon

TMG College Australia

North Regional TAFE WA

Charles Darwin University


Elly Lukas

The French Academy


Keep up to date with the latest in employment and recruitment in the hair and beauty industries at the HeadHunter blog.