How To Become A Dermatologist

If you have a skin condition like acne, eczema, or any kind of rash, you may want to see a dermatologist. A dermatologist is a type of physician that handles the skin and its diseases. It takes several years of training in order to become a dermatologist, including going to undergraduate school, medical school, and completing a residency in dermatology. Overall, 12 years of education are needed before a person can call themselves a dermatologist.

Why Become a Dermatologist

Dermatology is a branch of medicine that deals with the skin, nails, hair, and its diseases. Dermatologists treat the diseases of these areas. Some of the issues that a person may seek out a dermatologist for include acne, rosacea, contagious skin diseases, eczema, dermatitis, rashes, skin cancers, fungal infections, sweating, any kind of bumps or growths on the skin, hair and scalp issues, skin pain, and more.

Dermatologists take a medical history of a patient. They often start by asking questions about what brought the patient in. They will examine the skin. They may order tests if necessary. They will diagnose based upon their expertise, and provide treatment. They may order additional testing for more serious and complicated conditions.

This is a good career for people who enjoy the medical field, find the skin and its various diseases fascinating, are compassionate, and want to help others.

Dermatologists must possess the following qualities and skills:

Dermatologist Work Environment

Dermatologists work in healthcare environments, usually their own private offices or a dermatology clinic, but also sometimes a larger hospital or general practice. They work directly with patients, and see many patients on a daily basis. Their work involves examining the skin of patients with a variety of skin conditions. Dermatologists who work in a private clinic often have regular hours. However, there will always be emergency and urgent care situations that come up as a physician, and dermatologists will often be on call to deal with situations on the weekends and at night.

Dermatologist Salary

The median annual salary for dermatologists was $392,000 in 2017.

A dermatologist is a highly specialized type of physician, whose expertise is in the ailments of the skin. Dermatologists are one of the highest paid specialties within the medical field. Dermatologists are paid well due to their high level of expertise and knowledge in their field. There are many years of medical school that dermatologists must complete before they are able to start practicing. Along with this comes hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt. This is important to take into consideration when choosing a career as a dermatologist.

Average Dermatologist Annual Salary

$211,390

The average annual salary for dermatologists is $211,390 a year. Salaries start at $60,390 a year and go up to $208,000 a year.

Average Dermatologist Hourly Wage

$101.63

The average hourly wage for a dermatologist is $101.63. Hourly wages are between $29.04 and $100 an hour.

Stats were based out of 355,460 employed dermatologists in the United States.

Highest Paying States For Dermatologists

Top Paying Cities For Dermatologists


Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Dermatologist Career Outlook

Employment for dermatologists is expected to increase by 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is about the same rate of growth as other occupations within the United States.

Healthcare is a field that will always be needed. Medical professions show no signs of slowing down. Dermatologists will continue to be needed to take care of people who have skin problems, illnesses and injuries. Because of new health care laws, more people now than ever are seeking out doctors for their medical help. Dermatologists will be needed to treat children, the elderly, and people of all ages with their medical issues.

Dermatologist Degree

It takes several years of education to become a dermatologist. First, a person must earn a bachelor’s degree. Then they must apply for and get accepted into medical school. Medical school typically takes an additional four years of education. After medical school, they must apply for residency, where they decide to further specialize in dermatology. This typically takes four years. Altogether it takes 12 years until a person is licensed to work as a dermatologist.

The first step is a bachelor’s degree. Many people choose to earn a degree in a physical science such as biology or chemistry. Any program that gives you a good foundation in the sciences will provide a strong background for a profession in medicine. It takes four years to earn a bachelor’s degree.

The next step is applying to medical schools. There are two types of medical degrees: an MD and a DO. You should decide which type you want, or if you want to apply for both kinds of programs. You will need to take the MCAT exam in order to apply for medical school. Once accepted, you will spend the first two years taking advanced classes, specifically focusing on the medical field. The last two years are spent in rotations at hospitals and clinics, learning in-depth about the many specialties within the medical field. During these rotations is when you will have your first hands-on experience in a dermatology setting.

At the end of your four-year medical school program, you must apply for residency programs. You should apply for dermatology residency programs at hospitals. Residency serves as on-the-job training for becoming a future doctor. It takes four years before you become licensed as a dermatologist.

Dermatology Coursework

Anatomy and Physiology: In this course students learn all about human body structure and function. Students acquire core knowledge of the components of each bodily system and how they work together. Topics include cell structure and functions of all major systems of the human body. The connections and relationships among these systems are studied. Emphasis on the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and reproductive systems is paid attention to. Laboratory work is also part of the class.

Microbiology: In this course students learn about many different kinds of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi and more. Major emphasis is placed upon classification, genetics, ecology, physiology, physical and chemical control and economic importance. An introduction to applications of microbiology to food and water analysis, industry and medicine, including principles of immunology and transmission of infectious diseases.

Immunology: In this course, students learn about the principles of immunology. They are introduced to the development of the immune system, innate immunity, immunoglobulin structure and genetics, antigen-antibody reactions, the major histocompatibility complex reactions and antigen presentation, T cell receptors (genetics, structure, selection), T cell activation and effector functions, immune responses to infectious organisms and tumors, autoimmune diseases, autoimmunity, allergies, and immune deficiencies.

Dermatologist Career Path

Many people visit the dermatologist for medical skin concerns. However, more and more people are going to the dermatologist for needs that are cosmetic in nature. They want to improve the appearance of their skin, rather than treat a disease. This is what cosmetic dermatologists specialize in.

Cosmetic Dermatologist

Overview A cosmetic dermatologist improves the appearance of people’s skin.

Responsibilities Cosmetic dermatologists are able to perform laser surgery, liposuction, hair transplant surgery, chemical peels, filler injections, Botox injections, reconstructive surgery, and more.

Education Required It takes an additional years of fellowship experience to become a cosmetic dermatologist. A person must undergo a fellowship in cosmetic/aesthetic dermatology, which also includes surgical training.

Benefits This is a great career for somebody who is interested in helping create beautiful skin for their patients.

Dermatologist Related Careers

Surgeon: A surgeon is a type of physician who has spent years training to perform surgery. They treat injuries, diseases and more through operations. They often perform general surgery. Some choose to specialize in a certain type of surgery.

Family Physician: A family physician treats people of all ages, from children to adults. They are also known as primary care physicians. They are trained in a wide range of medical ailments. They provide basic, comprehensive health care for all of their patients.

Internal Medicine: Physicians who practice internal medicine focus on adults. They also focus on common general medical conditions. Their experience includes internal medicine subspecialties such as endocrinology, rheumatology, neurology, and infectious diseases.

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