The Australian Society of Dermal Clinicians often receive queries from Dermal Clinicians, Dermal Therapists, employer groups as well as those thinking of entering into the profession particularly around the questions "What will I/should I get paid?"
As the peak professional body representing Dermal Clinicians and Therapists, we aim to provide general guidance and information regarding industry pay rates based on previous data collected. This guidance includes information regarding the issues or considerations that may be involved in the determination of what 'a fair wage' is to inform workplace negotiations and discussions. Following is a discussion of award/s members may be covered by as well as the implications that employment setting and job description or duties can have when determining whether you will be paid under a particular award. Also, provided is information about the industry average according to ASDC commissioned industry research and how this compares to other allied and health professions.
"Money grows on the tree of persistence" (Japanese Proverb)
There are many variations on the saying "If you want to earn more, you must learn more". Generally speaking, increasing your education through recognised tertiary study provides benefits to you as an individual as well as to employers. In many cases formalised tertiary education can also result in increased earning capacity. Within the Dermal Science and Therapy industry sector, we have a fairly unique and perhaps problematic situation where advanced skills and techniques can be gained from non accredited industry training or short courses as well as qualifications from accredited tertiary institutions. Putting other debates and discussions aside for either approach, here we discuss the monetary ramifications that arise from either approach to expanding your scope of practice. These need to be carefully considered and individual counsel sought.
Employers and individuals may utilise formal qualifications as well as the job description, duties and setting, to determine the most applicable industry/profession categorisation. Categorising a profession can inform whether there is a relevant industry award or alternatively negotiate a fair wage based on industry average. Industry categorisation also relates to Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) codes used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and business industry codes (BIC) codes used by the Australian Taxation Office. Guidance as a starting point can be obtained by reference to award documents as well as consulting associated government and independent departments that relate to workplace relations such as the Fair Work Ombudsman.
The Journey of the Dermal Therapy Profession: Implications and Misconceptions.
To completely understand the conundrum or questions around "what does a dermal clinician or therapist get paid?" requires a little journey through our history. Twenty years ago, dermal therapy education was a postgraduate qualification for professional beauty therapists. The dermal therapy industry was naturally viewed as a progression or advancement of the knowledge and skill of beauty therapy.
Between 1999-2001 the first offering of a dermal therapy university qualification and the present day, there have been developments that can complicate matters and the question of what does a dermal clinician or therapist get paid? This includes the emergence of qualifications within vocational and higher education sectors and the offering of dermal therapy procedures within a variety of different clinical settings. You can find dermal therapy practitioners in hair and beauty clinics, medi-spas and laser or cosmetic clinics, medical practices as well as newer areas such as community health settings and outpatient hospital services.
There has also been an evolution to increase the scientific rigour and evidence base paradigm of university education programs. In recent times we have seen the increasing professionalisation of dermal clinicians as practitioners and their professional body, the Australian Society of Dermal Clinicians. These developments have led to increasing recognition of Dermal Therapy as an emerging allied health profession. However, this is a road still being travelled.
According to the Australian Council of Professions, a profession is:
"A disciplined group of individuals who adhere to ethical standards and who hold themselves out as, and are accepted by the public as possessing special knowledge and skills in a widely recognised body of learning derived from research, education and training at a high level, and who are prepared to apply this knowledge and exercise these skills in the interest of others". (Australian Council of Professions, 2021)
And a professional:
"Is a member of a Profession. Professionals are governed by codes of ethics and profess commitment to competence, integrity and morality, altruism, and the promotion of the public good within their expert domain. Professionals are accountable to those they serve and to society". (Australian Council of Professions, 2021)
The Allied Professions of Australia (AHPA) define an allied health profession as:
"University qualified practitioners with specialised expertise in preventing, diagnosing and treating a range of conditions and illnesses. Allied health practitioners often work within a multidisciplinary health team to provide specialised support for different patient needs". (AHPA, 2021).
Awards that may apply to the dermal therapy industry
Those that can perform beauty services have Certificate through to Advanced Diploma qualifications and are covered under the Hair and Beauty Industry Award 2010 [MA000005]. The highest level to be paid as a beauty therapist is a level 6 with a Diploma of Beauty Therapy. Obtaining further non-formalised qualifications such as product or equipment training or even further diploma qualifications does not necessarily change the level any further within this award. Many employers do pay above award rate for years of experience, performance on the job and revenue generated through increased skills the individual has obtained over time.
Dermal Clinicians with government accredited higher education qualifications including a Bachelor Degree or Post Graduate Certificate/Diploma may be covered under an award, or they may have to rely on negotiating their own rate of pay. Many professions do negotiate their salaries and not all job descriptions are covered under an award. This doesn't mean that the employer doesn't have guidance as to fair minimum rates or conditions, or that there isn't an award that may be applicable to individual situations. Professions including medical professionals, nurses, pharmacists, paramedics, engineers, bankers and architects all have industry or occupational awards that may cover them to refer to. However, they may also work outside these awards.
Dermal Clinicians may fall under different awards depending on their education, workplace and job description or duties. They may also not be covered by an award as the company they are employed with has an enterprise agreement. In these situations, guidance from the Fair Work Ombudsman is recommended.
A Dermal clinician with university qualifications, who identifies as an allied health professional may be covered under the Health Professionals and Support Services Award 2020 [MA000027]. In identifying as an allied health professional they perform a role in health assessment, therapeutic management of skin and working in clinical environments that align with descriptors within the classifications and descriptors of this award. There are other awards that may be reviewed as also applicable dependent on work duties including the hair and beauty award and the miscellaneous award.
One of the common questions we get asked is if whether Dermal Clinicians can be covered by this award if their title is not on the list of health professions? The Fairwork Ombudsman has provided this response as clarification.
The Health Professionals and Support Services Award provides a list of common health professionals in Schedule B. However, health professionals that still fit within the definition of the term under clause 4.2 and within a classification definition under Schedule A may still be covered by this award even if not specifically referred to or listed under Schedule B. Schedule B is an indicative list. It’s not exhaustive
Interpreting Health Pressionals and Support Services Award 2020 [MA000027]
You can click here to be taken to a PDF of the Health Professionals and Support Services Award 2020 [MA000027]. Clicking on this link will provide you with information about definitions for categories, levels, roles and duties that will influence where you as an individual sit within this framework. As an individual, you need to be familiar with and stay up to date with changes to the award over time and if you have particular queries or concerns you can seek advice from the Fair Work Ombudsman.
As some general advice regarding interpreting the levels and pay points the first thing to consider is the length of your degree or any recognised tertiary postgraduate qualifications you may hold. Then the number of years of clinical practice and your level of independence clinically including duties within your role.
It is important to read each of the level descriptors as this will describe what your practice looks like for someone who is considered new to practice all the way through to highly specialised and independent. Within our industry, many graduates of Dermal Therapy or Clinical Aesthetics degrees already have significant years of clinical experience and this may require some negotiation with your employer.
Industry Average Pay Rates for the Dermal Therapy Sector
All of this information has related to what rights you have regarding minimum standards for wages and conditions. You might be asking though what is the industry average? What are most employers paying their dermal health professionals? According to an ASDC commissioned research project with Victoria University in 2017, there were several findings that impacted the average hourly rate of Dermal Clinicians Therapists.
In 2017, the average pay rate for those working in the dermal therapy sector was $33-35 per hour. There was variance based on the clinical setting with those in medical settings being paid a higher rate than those working in beauty settings. The study had 82 respondents, 61.33% with a bachelor degree and 13.33% with an advanced diploma in Dermal Therapy. The remaining percentage either had no formal qualification, had trained overseas or identified as having a qualification other than dermal therapy-specific qualifications such as nurses working in the dermal therapy sector. Other findings reported in this survey of industry pay rates included:
Increased years of experience resulted in higher rates of pay. It was reported that those with several years of experience were able to earn up to $45 per hour in some work settings.
Postgraduate study also related to a higher average pay rate.
At the time this research was carried out, respondents reported that pay increases were expected in the next 12 months but didn't necessarily occur on an annual basis.
The ASDC aim to update this information with another survey over the next twelve months and will provide this information when available on the member portal via the ASDC website
Comparing Dermal Health Professionals with other Health and Allied Health Professions Average Pay.
The table below provides a summary of the hourly pay rate for comparison of professions working in the dermal sector and allied health. This comparison indicates for those with AQF 7 (bachelor) qualifications that there is a high similarity in both award and industry average pay rates. These figures are based on a full-time hourly rate (not casual or penalty rates) for entry-level (early graduates) and those with 2 years of experience only. All awards indicate higher pay rates based on increasing autonomy and duties.
This table is for indicative comparison only. The rates included were correct at the time of analysis in January 2022 and are subject to change.
The Grey Area
There are grey areas where it is important to seek your own advice and counsel regarding your specific situation and negotiating a fair wage.
1. Working whilst still a student of a dermal therapy program. We encounter situations where students are working in roles very similar or the same as qualified Dermal Clinicians but are not as yet qualified themselves. In this situation, your highest qualification as a beauty therapist may determine your award whilst a student, however, you may be performing a role outside the descriptor of a beauty therapist.
2. When you hold post-graduate qualifications but don't hold an undergraduate degree (Bachelor). In this situation if you have for example a beauty therapy diploma and then a post-graduate program in dermal therapy you may fall outside descriptors in both the Hair and Beauty Industry and the Health Professions and Support Services Awards and this may require some negotiation with your employer and independent counsel as to how best to proceed.
3. Just because you hold a qualification doesn't automatically dictate you are performing in that role. You may have a job role that requires you to perform techniques, skills or duties that are aligned with the role of a beauty therapist, as well as those of a dermal therapist or dermal clinician. In this situation, you may have to negotiate with your employer and seek independent counsel as to how best to proceed. Things you may want to consider in your negotiations are how many years of experience you have, your level of autonomy, the percentage of time performing duties in either role, the overall position description and the revenue that you generate for the business. You may also move into an entirely new role including business management, education and training or sales.
4. If you gain a postgraduate qualification covered under another award. Dermal Clinicians that then go and complete post-graduate qualifications for example in Nursing would be advised to consult with nursing professional bodies about where you fit into the nursing award. Other post-graduate qualifications in health sciences may still be covered under the Health Professions award, whilst postgraduate qualifications in entirely different disciplines altogether may relate to another award due to distinct change in role.
For the employers out there: Getting the most out of your University Graduate
Industry research and employment trends indicate that Dermal Clinicians are an extremely valued asset within many clinical settings and are remunerated accordingly, but we also occasionally hear some sad stories. Stories where graduates are being severely underpaid, under-utilised and undervalued for the education they hold. As an employer, if you employ a Dermal Clinician you are getting a lot more than someone who can do a great treatment and provide high-quality patient-centred care.
Dermal Clinicians can Educate. Service that doesn't stop in the treatment room.
In their university training many Dermal Clinicians are required to develop and facilitate education programs that can be offered to patient groups, peers in the workplace (within their scope) and also written materials for patient education around skin problems and management.
Dermal Clinicians, OHS and risk mitigation:
Employing a Dermal Clinician may cost a little more but your insurance costs could be lower. Dermal Clinicians are trained in developing risk assessments, standard operating procedures and clinical governance procedures such as audits. This documentation may provide your business with safer overall operations, reducing the risk of adverse events and also ensuring timely and appropriate management when or if they do occur. Dermal Clinicians are trained to ensure treatments are performed for maximum efficacy and lowest risk to the patient and the workplace.
Dermal Clinicians are Evidence-Based and adhere to Best Practice:
Better outcomes, happy clients, busy clinic, happy employer. During their education, Dermal Clinicians are trained to develop patient care plans and treatment protocols based on current evidence and best practice. This provides your clients/patients with the best and safest care currently available. They are trained in research design and protocols and have performed independent and group research during their studies so that they can implement this in their clinical practice and learn from observations over time. Dermal Clinicians may also develop clinical studies and publish their findings at conferences or industry publications.
Dermal Clinicians are Allied Health Professionals: This means collaboration...
Inter professional management of skin diseases and disorders, including wound management and healing are central to to the knowledge of Dermal Clinicians. They have the knowledge and training to facilitate multifaceted patient care by liaising with medical and other health and allied health professionals for better patient outcomes. This may mean referring out when required or appropriate but this network will also mean referrals coming in if you support your Dermal Clinician.
The information in this document is of a general nature only and is not, and is not intended to be, advice. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult with appropriate accounting, tax, legal or other advisors. No warranty is given as to the correctness of the information contained in this publication, or of its suitability for use by you. To the fullest extent permitted by law, Australian Society of Dermal Clinicians Inc. (ASDC) is not liable for any statement or opinion, or for any error or omission contained in this publication and disclaims all warranties with regard to the information contained in it, including, without limitation, all implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. ASDC is not liable for any direct, indirect, special or consequential losses or damages of any kind, or loss of profit, loss or corruption of data, business interruption or indirect costs, arising out of or in connection with the use of this publication or the information contained in it, whether such loss or damage arises in contract, negligence, tort, under statute, or otherwise
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