How to Become a Dermatologist

Dermatologist Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $280,800
Avg. Pay / hour $135.00
Education 4+ Years
Job Outlook 7%

A simple fact of life is that since people have skin there will always be a need for dermatology professionals to help in this field of medicine.

Anyone wanting a rewarding career in medicine should consider what it takes to become a dermatologist.

Future employment opportunities will increase in health care in general, dermatology is no exception.

While the road to a career in dermatology is long, it is well worth the effort to have a career you enjoy doing day after day.

A dermatologist is a physician which specializes in diseases of the skin.

Typically, it takes 8 years of college and 4 years of a residency training program to complete the requirements to become a Dermatologist.

Education Requirements to Become a Dermatologist

Taking on a long education in medicine starts in high school.

The best course of action is to take classes you enjoy along with biology, chemistry, math and anatomy.

Graduate high school with the best grades possible to be able to attend college.

Consider taking college courses from a community college if you cannot get into a university your first year out of high school.

In order to become a dermatologist, you will need to graduate college with a Bachelors degree, take the MCAT and attend a medical school.

It is more important to choose a major you enjoy, even if it is in history or art.

While in college, take the prerequisite courses which include chemistry, biology, physics and math.

The MCAT is typically taken in the junior year and applications sent in the senior year.

It is important to contact any prospective medical schools first to understand their particular admission requirements.

After four years of medical school, a training residency will need to be completed to become a board certified physician.

Selection into the dermatology residency is extremely competitive.

Consider completing an internship following medical school to have better odds of getting your most desired residency appointment the next year.

Upon completion of a residency program, the medical boards are completed and you may start practicing medicine.

Dermatologist Job Description

The job duties of a dermatologist are similar to other physicians in terms of helping patients through diagnosis and treatment.

This career path is similar to other physicians in the way they are trained.

Medical school teaches all physicians the same information so that they can choose a specialty of their liking.

Because of this training, prescribing medications and performing surgical procedures are within the normal scope of practice.

While the underlying duties are similar, there are a few procedures that are specific for dermatology.

Individual practitioners choose which services they will offer within their practice.

Here are a few common procedures a dermatologist may offer:

  • Microdermabrasion for scar treatment
  • Botox injections
  • Skin cancer examinations
  • Laser therapy
  • Diagnostic tests for diagnosis purposes
  • Prescribe medications
  • Perform basic surgical procedures

Along with common technical procedures, most practitioners must be able to manage an office staff.

A basic knowledge of hiring practices, general management and basic bookkeeping will go a long way to success in this career field.

Operating a clinic is another option for a dermatologist and will focus more on diagnosing skin disorders and performing examinations.

There are a variety of different places to work in depending on the individual preferences of the physician.

Dermatologist Salary and Career Path

One item that is commonly asked for when considering in becoming a dermatologist is the average earnings.

All professionals, including doctors, will have different earnings which are dependent on their individual circumstances.

An average figure on the national level is about $193,000 a year.

Location and types of services will change the amount of earnings gained.

Also, it is important to know that those with private practices do not earn traditional sick pay, vacation pay or employer sponsored retirement.

Since you are in business for yourself, there are a few extra expenses that need to be considered to get the whole picture in terms of pay.

There are few jobs available that can help prepare you for a career in dermatology which include:

There are many different jobs available to help prepare for a dermatology career.

However, in order to become a dermatologist, you must attend medical school and finish a residency training program.

Take the time to shadow a dermatologist before making the lifelong commitment to higher education, it may be the most valuable experience in your life.

This career will take a long time to complete, but is well worth the wait.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Arkansas- NA -
District of Columbia$162,650
New Hampshire$304,000
New Jersey$243,590
New Mexico$314,760
New York$182,040
North Carolina$303,230
Rhode Island$279,640
South Carolina$290,010
South Dakota$308,160
West Virginia$158,250
Puerto Rico$71,660

The top earning state in the field is Missouri, where the average salary is $340,150.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Missouri - $340,150
Oklahoma - $327,540
Wisconsin - $314,820
New Mexico - $314,760
Minnesota - $308,190
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for General Internal Medicine Physicians, OCC Code 29-1216, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a dermatologist?

Dermatologists are physicians specialized in treating diseases of the skin, hair, and nails.

They can treat a multitude of conditions, including acne, dermatitis, fungal infections, and skin cancer and can perform various procedures, such as skin grafts, cosmetic injections, chemical peels, or laser treatments.

The American Board of Dermatology and other similar professional institutions offer certification for qualified dermatologists.

As a dermatologist, you can find employment in hospitals, outpatient clinics or private practices.

Like all physicians, dermatologists need many years of medical training but also a special set of personal skills, like compassion, dexterity, attention to detail and communication skills.

How much does a dermatologist make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for physicians and surgeons was equal to or greater than $208,000 as of May 2018.

Salaries for physicians vary widely depending on the specialty, the region, the employer and the doctor’s level of experience.

Dermatologists can earn anywhere between less than $200,000 and more than $400,000 a year.

How much does it cost to become a dermatologist?

Dermatologists need a bachelor’s degree, a Doctor of Medicine degree and they must complete a residency period.

Tuition costs vary depending on the school you choose and the program itself.

Pre-med college programs can cost anywhere between $15,000 and more than $60,000 a year.

Total student costs for a year at a medical school range from $30,000 to more than $60,000.

Scholarships are also available and can help you cover tuition costs and other expenses.

Medical school graduates need to complete a few years of residency and they must have a state license in order to be allowed to practice.

What is the demand for dermatologists?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for physicians and surgeons, in general, is expected to grow 7 percent from 2018 to 2028.

However, employment opportunities vary depending on the doctor’s specialty and the region.

Demand for healthcare services is also sensitive to policies regarding health coverage, so it may vary year by year.

As the population ages, physicians who specialize in diseases that affect the elderly should have better job prospects.

How long does it take to become a dermatologist?

Dermatologists need up to 12 years of training beyond high school.

If you want to become a dermatologist, the first step is to finish four years of college; choosing to major in biology, chemistry or a similar field can help you prepare for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

Students who plan to enroll at a medical school must obtain a passing score at the MCAT.

After four years of medical school and earning their Doctor of Medicine degree, prospective dermatologists continue their training with around 4 years of residency.

A fellowship is also required for dermatologists who want to specialize in a sub-field of dermatology.

Dermatologists also need a state license.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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