How to become a Dermatologist


If you want to help individuals achieve and maintain good skin, you might want to consider dermatology as a career option. You may identify and treat skin problems as a dermatologist, allowing patients to look and feel their best. We’ll go over what a dermatologist does, how to become one, and some frequently asked questions about the field in this post. 

In the United States and other Western countries, becoming a dermatologist normally requires a minimum of twelve years of training and education. An undergraduate pre-medical degree, general medical training, an internship, and dermatology specialized training are all part of the process. 

Dermatologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and ailments of the skin, hair, nails, genitalia, and mucous membranes. This could be anything from a little rash to deadly skin cancer. A dermatologist’s education and training are critical in ensuring that they have a thorough awareness of dermatological problems and the best treatment options.

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What is the role of a dermatologist? 

Dermatologists are doctors who specialize in skin problems such as acne and cancer. They also diagnose and treat hair and nail problems. Dermatologists are in charge of the following duties: 

  • Meeting with patients to assess skin, hair, and nail problems: They take down medical histories, examine patients, look for irregularities, and talk about diagnoses. 
  • Dermatologists may prescribe drugs, remove abnormalities such as warts, perform surgery to eliminate concerns such as moles, or take biopsies to conduct additional research and diagnosis, depending on the diagnosis. 
  • Addressing cosmetic issues such as aging and birthmarks: Dermatologists utilize lasers to treat birthmarks, Botox to cure wrinkles, and skin grafting to aid patients with severe scarring. 
  • Follow-up examinations or treatments: Many dermatological treatments require numerous visits to complete, and dermatologists must watch patient progress to determine how effectively to address patients’ concerns.

Average Salary for Dermatologists 

Dermatologists are typically employed full-time. Their amount of expertise and whether or not they run their own private practices are the two most important elements that influence their earning potential. Dermatologists in the United States earn an average of $229,467 a year, with some earning between $39,000 and $584,000. 

Dermatologist Skills

Dermatologists usually need a lot of schooling, work experience, on-the-job training, and a current license to practice. 

  • Licenses and certifications in education and training 
  • Skills\sEducation 

Dermatologists must have a bachelor’s degree as well as a medical doctorate. To establish a firm foundation in the medical sector, most prospective dermatologists major in science-focused topics like biology, chemistry, or physics as undergraduates. They study advanced anatomy, pharmacology, and biochemistry in medical school, as well as practical skills such as patient examination and diagnosis. Clinical rotations, which require working closely with experienced doctors, are also required of aspiring dermatologists during medical school. 

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Dermatologists go through a four-year residency program to prepare for their specialty. A typical dermatology residency includes a one-year internship in a general surgery department followed by three years of training in a clinical dermatological setting. 

Certifications and licenses 

Dermatologists must have a current license in every state. Dermatologists must have a degree from an approved medical school, complete a residency in their specialized field, and pass a standardized test known as the US Medical Licensing Exam, which varies slightly from state to state. 

Dermatologists must have the following talents to succeed in their field: 

Pay close attention to  details. 

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Dermatologists are in charge of detecting and tracking tiny changes in their patients’ skin. To detect these minor changes, they must have exceptional attention to detail. 

Ability to communicate 

Dermatologists require good communication skills to successfully transmit treatment and prescription information to patients, as well as track diagnosis and results. They must be able to communicate clearly both verbally and in writing, as well as listen attentively. 


Dermatologists frequently utilize sharp tools to correct minor skin problems. They require physical dexterity to assure accuracy and avoid errors. 

Organization abilities 

Dermatologists must be organized because they may work with hundreds of patients each month. To track patients and offer effective care, they need well-planned scheduling and file systems. 

Problem-Solving Skills 

Dermatologists are in charge of evaluating patients’ skin issues and developing treatment plans. To produce effective solutions, they must have good problem-solving abilities. 

What is the average time it takes to become a dermatologist? 

A dermatologist’s training can take up to 12 years, including time spent as an undergraduate, in medical school, and in residency.

What does it take to become a dermatologist? 

Follow these nine steps to become a dermatologist: 

  • A bachelor’s degree is required. 
  • Take the MCAT and pass it. 
  • Obtain a medical degree. 
  • You must pass the  two components of the USMLE. 
  • Finish a residency program. 
  • You must pass the third portion of the USMLE. 
  • Obtain a permit. 
  • Obtain board certification. 

Get a bachelor’s degree first. 

To begin, select an institution and pursue a bachelor’s degree. Biology, chemistry, and physics are examples of scientific disciplines that might help you prepare for medical school and a dermatology profession. 

 You must pass the MCAT. 

Take and pass the Medical College Admissions Test before you earn your bachelor’s degree. The biology, chemistry, psychology, and critical analysis components of this 7.5-hour exam are included. It is a criterion for medical school admissions. 

Obtain a medical degree 

After that, select a medical school and pursue an M.D. The first two years of medical school will be spent primarily in the classroom and in the laboratory, where you will learn the fundamentals of medicine. You can anticipate to participate in clinical rotations with experienced doctors during your third and fourth years of medical school. 

 Pass the first two portions of the USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination)

You must pass all three portions of the USMLE to become a dermatologist. The first portion should be taken after your second year of medical school, and the second part after your third year. 

Finish a residency 

You must complete a four-year dermatology residency after graduating from medical school. Because dermatology is a competitive field, you’ll need a good score on the first two parts of the USMLE to get into your preferred residency. 

 Pass the USMLE 

Take and pass the last portion of the USMLE once you’ve completed your residency. To obtain a license to practice dermatology, you must pass the final component of the exam. 

 Obtain a permit 

Apply for a license in the state where you want to work when you’ve completed all of the schooling, residency, and testing requirements. To find out how long your license will last and how to renew it, consult your state’s licensing checklist. 

Obtain board certification 

You can become certified by the American Board of Dermatology to show your dedication to the industry and boost your earning potential. Obtaining board certification necessitates: 

  • Obtaining an M.D. from a recognized medical school. 
  • Possess a current dermatological license 
  • Pass the ABOD exam, which is a standardized test. 
  • Completing a fellowship in a board-certified speciality, such as pediatric dermatology, procedural dermatology, or dermatopathology 
  • Board certification is renewed every ten years.
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Pre-Medical Undergraduate Degree (3 years) 

A pre-medical undergraduate degree is required for admission to a medical school. A Bachelor of Science degree with foundation courses in areas like physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics, and statistics is frequently required. Medical terminology, human anatomy, and other elective topics may be included depending on the undergraduate degree. 

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M.D. (Medical Doctor) (4 years) 

To practice medicine or osteopathic medicine in the United States, a doctoral degree in medicine or osteopathic medicine is required. This program lasts at least four years and includes academic seminars as well as clinical rotations for observation or instruction. This aids in the establishment of foundational knowledge for doctoral practice. 

A candidate must undergo an internship in general medical practice after graduating from an M.D. degree. This aids graduates in gaining the necessary practical skills and experience to work as general practitioners. 

Internship and Residency (1 + 3 years) training 

Only a registered doctor who has finished a pre-medical degree as well as an M.D. program can pursue additional dermatological training. However, the American Academy of Dermatology has developed a series of modules that might enable medical students interested in becoming dermatologists to get a taste of the field. 

The next stage on the path to becoming a dermatologist is to complete a three-year residency at a dermatology practice. This is necessary for applicants to understand how to use their education and knowledge in a practical situation. Under the supervision of other experienced practitioners, the health professional is exposed to genuine patient cases and is responsible for the diagnosis and treatment of dermatologic disorders. 

During their dermatology residency, physicians will receive both theoretical and clinical training in the discipline of dermatology. The physician is entitled to sit for the board examination to get certified as a dermatologist after completing the residency program. 

Dermatologists may also choose to pursue additional education and pursue a subspecialization. They might decide to learn more about dermatopathology or pediatric dermatology, for example.


What kind of education do you need to be a dermatologist? 

Dermatologists, like all other doctors, must attend a graduate medical school program after completing an undergraduate degree. Medical schools admit students from all educational backgrounds, but those with strong science backgrounds, such as biology and chemistry, are often preferred. Applicants can further boost their chances by scoring well on the Medical College Admissions Test and volunteering or working in the medical sector prior to graduation. 

Medical school is a four-year program in which the first few years are dedicated to learning about the science behind medicine. Anatomy and physiology, genetics, cell biology, pathology, immunology, and pharmacology are among the subjects covered by students. They also learn how to inspect, interview, diagnose, and communicate with patients. 

Clinical clerkships, or rotations, take up a significant amount of time in medical school. Students watch and treat patients during a clerkship under the supervision of seasoned physicians. Each clerkship focuses on a different aspect of medicine, and some are obligatory for medical students. Primary care, critical care, psychiatry, pediatrics, surgery, and anesthesia are all common clerkships. Elective clerkships are available, and students interested in practicing dermatology can complete a rotation in that specialty. 

After graduating from medical school, a dermatologist’s education continues. Graduates begin residencies in their chosen speciality, which can last anywhere from one to three years. A dermatology residency program usually lasts three years. The National Resident Matching Program matches prospective dermatologists with a residency. Residents in dermatology learn how to identify skin, hair, and nail problems as well as surgical techniques unique to the discipline, such as biopsies, excisions, and cryotherapy. Fellowships are available to dermatologists who want to specialize further after completing their residency. Fellowships in dermatopathology or advanced surgical procedures like Mohs surgery may be available. 

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Is there a requirement for certification or licensure? 

To treat patients, every state requires physicians, including dermatologists, to obtain a license. To obtain a license, you must first complete medical school, then complete all or part of a residency, and then pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination. 

Most dermatologists obtain board certification in addition to their state medical license. Although board certification is voluntary, it shows patients and employers that dermatologists have completed high educational and knowledge standards. Dermatologists can become certified by satisfying all state licensing requirements and passing an examination administered by the American Board of Dermatology. A Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology is a designation given to board-certified dermatologists (FAAD). Dermatologists must undergo continuing medical education and retake the board exam every ten years to keep their certification. 

What is the average time it takes to become a dermatologist? 

A dermatologist’s training can take up to 12 years, including time spent as an undergraduate, in medical school, and in residency. 

How much money does a dermatologist make? 

Dermatology is one of the most well-paid medical specialties available to doctors. Their median annual pay in 2012 was $471,555. 

What are the chances of getting a job? 

Physicians and surgeons, including dermatologists, are expected to rise by 18 percent between 2012 and 2020, faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More physicians will be needed in the coming years, according to the BLS, to fulfill the needs of an aging population and to serve patients who have better access to health insurance and care. 

What are dermatologists’ long-term career prospects? 

Dermatologists with extensive expertise and good business skills may be able to open their own practices in the future. Some dermatologists choose a career in higher education, where they teach the future generation of doctors. Others go into research, adding to their field’s corpus of knowledge. 

How do I go about getting a job as a dermatologist? 

Many specialized job advertising sites for physicians exist, including ones dedicated solely to dermatologists. Dermatologists may also be able to obtain work through recruiters who work for hospitals and offices that are looking to fill positions. Some dermatologists perform locum tenens, which is temporary work filling in for a doctor who is away from his or her practice or hospital for a period of time. Working as a locum tenens is a great chance to see different parts of the country. 

Throughout their studies and training, dermatologists should create several professional relationships. When hunting for jobs, having a strong network might be beneficial. Your contacts may be able to give you leads and information on employment openings that are a suitable match for you. 

What resources are available to help me learn more about becoming a dermatologist? 

The American Academy of Dermatology is a great place to learn more about dermatology. The AAD offers a wealth of information to the general public as well as prospective and current dermatologists. Dermatologists’ associations are common in each state, and your state’s association might be a helpful source of information.

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