Dermatologists, also known as the medical doctors who deal with the skin, hair and nails, are among the best paid physicians in any country, especially in the United States of America, where the average dermatologist salary is around $240,000 per year.
Although they are not paid as well as the neurosurgeons or as the orthopedic surgeons (whose mean annual income is over $350,000, in 2017, in the USA), they earn six-figure wages after just a few years of practice, since the beginners in this profession earn around $95,000/year in the USA.
They enjoy high wages also in the United Kingdom, where their average yearly income was somewhere in the region of £120,000 (150,000 US dollars) in 2016. The surgical subspecialties increase significantly their earnings.
Dermatologist Job Description
Also known as the “skin doctor”, the dermatologist is a physician who is specialized in diagnosing, treating and preventing the health problems of the skin, nails and hair. The patients of this medical doctor are of all ages, from children to adults and elderlies. However, some of these professionals are specialized in pediatrics.
They use numerous instruments and advanced medical equipment, like: laser, microscopes, special computers, etc. A part of these practitioners – especially those who are specialized in surgical dermatology and Mohs surgery – use surgical procedures to treat their patients.
Here are some of the cutaneous and hair problems that the skin specialists deal with:
- all types of acne
- various kinds of eruptions of the skin
- dermatitis (inflammation of the skin), like the allergic contact dermatitis (caused by dust, pollen or other allergens)
- birth marks
- skin cancer
- hirsutism (excessive body hair)
- alopecia (hair loss)
- dry, greasy, fragile or deteriorated hair.
Although they deal with some cosmetic problems of the skin, hair, scalp and nails, they can also specialize in cosmetic dermatology. They can also specialize in other domains that are related to their field, like: allergic illnesses, skin cancer, acne, eczema.
These professionals work in various healthcare settings, such as: public or private clinics and hospitals. They can also be self-employed, working in private offices. In the private sector, as with the wages of any other healthcare worker, the dermatologist salaries are higher than in the public sector. When diagnosing and treating their patients, they are usually helped by other healthcare practitioners, like: registered nurses, physician assistants and technicians. Most of them work full time.
The main jobs related to dermatology are:
- skincare specialists, like: estheticians, facialists (specialists in facial care), electrologists (persons who remove body hair by using electrolysis) – they are not physicians, they are just some personal appearance workers, some beauty care specialists who work in beauty salons, and they clean and beautify the face and the body, by using massages, peels, masks, etc;
- barbers, hairdressers and cosmetologists, who beautify the hair of their clients;
- manicurists and pedicurists, who beautify fingernails and toenails;
- chiropractors, who press and massage the skin to correct the positions of bones and joints.
What Does a Dermatologist Do ?
When the people have various cutaneous problems (acne, inflammations or eruptions of the skin), they go, in general, to their family doctor (their GP), which usually sends them to the dermatologist. But the patients can go directly to the skin doctor, especially when he or she is self-employed.
The skin specialist examines the patients (the portions of their body that is affected: the skin, scalp, nails or hair), asks them about how they feel, what they eat and about their medical history. They also must find out if their clients respect the hygiene rules and especially what caused the health problems. Some of them are trained to perform some diagnostic tests (any additional skills increase the dermatologist wages), while others send their patients to undergo the necessary medical tests, for example in the case of the allergic eruptions.
After identifying the diagnostic, these physicians explain the health problem to the patient, offer advice on how to ameliorate or cure that condition, and prescribe the treatment, which may consist in applying some creams or unguents on the area with problems and, sometimes, in taking antibiotics or other medications, even injectable ones.
Here are several forms of diagnostic and treatment that can be performed by the dermatologists, as well as by other skincare specialists or technicians:
- allergy tests;
- hair removal – with laser or other means;
- tattoo removal – with laser;
- various cosmetic procedures, like Botox injections;
- radiotherapy – for treating the skin cancer.
But the skin doctors not only diagnose and treat – they also prevent, ameliorate or, at least preserve. One of the dermatologist duties consists in teaching their clients how to prevent the health issues of the skin, hair and nails. If they have a health problem that can’t be cured by the skin specialists or by other physicians or surgeons, or if they can’t afford the treatment, the patients are taught by these professionals how their condition, illness or disorder can be ameliorated to some extent or, at least, how they can maintain the heath status of their skin, nails and hair.
Those skin specialists who perform surgical procedures on their patients, must also monitor them while they recover from the medical interventions.
How to Become a Dermatologist
The steps to becoming a dermatologist slightly vary from one country to another. In most countries, this professional is a physician specialized in dermatology. This means that the candidate for this job must graduate from a medical school and then specialize in skin disorders. However, the precise path of education and training differs a little from country to country.
In the United States of America, as indicated on bls.gov, the website of the US Bureau of Labor, every physician has to complete four years of an accredited medical school. The admission to this type of school is very difficult.
The future medical student must earn at least a Bachelor’s degree, which means that he or she has to complete at least four years of undergraduate school, where he or she should take courses in subjects that are related to medicine, namely: biology, anatomy, chemistry, physics, mathematics, as well as English, humanities and social sciences, because a good physician must be not only very well prepared in his or her chosen specialty, but also expert in dealing with people, especially when following the practice path, rather than the research (academic, scientific) path.
So, the schooling for a dermatologist – just like for any other medical doctor – begins in the four years spent at the college and it usually continues with the four years spent at the medical school. Then, as with any physician, the skin doctor must earn a medical degree (M.D. or D.O.). The internship is the next stage, where the expert in skin, nails and hair should spend one year, during which he or she can train in surgery, for example.
After the one-year internship, the applicants for this profession must complete three years of one of the accredited residency programs in dermatology, where they train for this precise specialty that deals with the skin, scalp, hair and nails. After that, they can complete one or more fellowships in subspecialties of their field (like dermatopathology, immunodermatology, Mohs surgery) or in specialties that are related to their field (like cosmetic surgery, pediatrics, laser medicine, etc.). As with any other physician, the salary of a dermatologist is directly influenced by the number and type(s) of the specialties and subspecialties in which he or she is trained.
In the United Kingdom, just like in the USA, these professionals are medical doctors specialized in the skin. In the UK, the candidates for this profession must complete the five years of a medical school, after which they enter paid employment, as they must undertake and complete the two years of the UK Foundation Programme, when they train in general medicine and general surgery, by working directly with patients, usually in hospitals, under the supervision of experienced medical doctors. Then, they must spend other two or three years training in their chosen specialty: dermatology.
But the requirements for this profession refer not only to knowledge and training, but also to certain skills that are needed for successfully practicing this profession, like:
- patience – for listening to the patients, while they explain how they feel and describe their medical history;
- good communication skills – for advising the patients and effectively communicating with other healthcare support staff, like: nurses, technicians, physician assistants;
- good manual dexterity – especially when performing surgical procedures;
- good problem-solving skills – for identifying the causes and the diagnostics, based on the symptoms and on the medical history;
- eagerness to learn – especially when following the research path, but not only, because, just like any other physician, the skin specialists must continually educate themselves, in order to keep abreast of all the latest discoveries related to the skin, hair, scalp, nails, and to the manners of diagnosing and treating their problems.
Dermatologist Education, Training and Certifications
The dermatologist pay is really high also because of the numerous years of study and practice that these professionals must complete. The total education and training path that is required for the skin specialists lasts for at least:
- twelve years in the USA, without the fellowships: minimum four years in a college, four years at the medical school, one year of internship, three years of residency;
- ten or eleven years in the UK, without trainings in other specialties or subspecialties: five years at medical school, two years of the Foundation Programme, two or three years of specialty training.
In the USA, the education needed is gained especially during the college years (at the courses related to medicine – biology, physics, chemistry, etc.) and the first two years at the medical school (spent in classrooms and laboratories, taking courses anatomy, pharmacology, biochemistry, psychology). The training in general medicine is gained during the last two years of the medical school (when the medical students work directly with patients, in hospitals and clinics, under the supervision of experienced doctors) and during the internship. The dermatologist training is earned during the three years of residency.
In the UK, the medical school provides the most part of the education, the Foundation Programme provides the training in general medicine and surgery, while the specialty training is acquired during the two or three years of training spent after the two years of the UK Foundation Programme.
In the USA, the skin doctors must be licensed, just like any physician, and they also need to pass a national licensure exam. The certification is not mandatory, but it’s useful for the physicians who want to pursue careers in dermatology, as it offers them good employment opportunities. In the UK, these professionals must be registered and certified in their specialty.
Pros and Cons of Being a Dermatologist
Being a skin specialist has certain advantages, such as:
- having the chance to work with sophisticated and high-tech medical equipment, especially when trained in Mohs surgery or laser medicine;
- having the satisfaction of improving the appearance of the patients and of solving their health problems related to the skin, scalp, hair or nails;
- it is engaging and challenging, as it stimulates these professionals to determine the appropriate causes, diagnostic and treatment, knowing the symptoms, the medical history and the other details offered by their patients;
- enjoying high wages, just like the other physicians; although they aren’t as high as the neurosurgeon salaries, the dermatologist earnings are comparable with the wages of other healthcare practitioners, like the cardiologists; nevertheless, the skin doctors earn considerably more than the chiropractors;
- having one of the best social statuses, as everyone respects the medical doctors, due to the huge number of years that they studied and trained.
However, this profession has several downsides, like:
- having to examine and treat, sometimes, patients who look awful, because of various eruptions or inflammations of the skin;
- having to spend a lot of years and money for the long, expensive and difficult path of education and training.
Dermatologist Job Growth
The job prospects for this occupation are really good, mainly because of:
- People’s increasing interest in enhancing their appearance. Persons of all ages become more and more preoccupied with how they look and, therefore, search for ways to get rid of the problems of their skin and hair. As a result, the services provided by these skin specialists are becoming increasingly popular among men and old people, categories that weren’t interested before in the anti-aging techniques. Those who ask themselves “how much does a dermatologist make per hour?” should know that the high wages of these practitioners might be increased by a high demand of their services.
- The increasing number of cases of cutaneous problems and even skin cancer. Unfortunately, nowadays many people, especially the youth, spend many hours in the sun during the summer, in order to tan, ignoring the doctors who advise us to avoid the sun when the temperatures are high, as it is dangerous for the skin. Even if they don’t get sick with cancer, they usually get various cutaneous problems, which send them to these physicians.
- The continuous development in fields like: surgery, radiation therapy, laser medicine, as well as the unceasing scientific research in these domains and also in improving the health and appearance of the hair, skin, scalp and nails.
According to the website of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, bls.gov, the employment of all physicians and surgeons is projected to grow with 14 percent, in the USA, in the decade 2014 – 2024 . The increasing interest of persons of all ages in enhancing their appearance is proven by another statistic published on bls.gov: employment of skincare specialists – who differ from the dermatologists, who are “skin specialists” – is expected to grow with 12 percent from 2014 to 2024 .
Dermatologist Salary – How Much Do Dermatologists Make?
The salaries enjoyed by the skin doctors depend on the same factors which influence the earnings of any other healthcare worker:
- experience level;
- employment sector – the private sector pays better than the public one;
- employment region – country, state, area (metropolitan and nonmetropolitan);
- type of healthcare setting – hospital, clinic, offices of physicians, outpatient care centers;
- type of employment – part time or full time;
- number and types of skills – proficiency and good interpersonal skills are among the best paying skills for this occupation;
- type of practice – the self employed ones earn more than the others;
- number and types of specialties of practice – Mohs surgery and dermatopathology are among the best paying specialties in this field.
Dermatologist Salary in the USA
In the United States of America, in 2017, the average dermatologist salary is around $240,000 per year (similar to oncologists), which corresponds to a mean monthly income of about $20,000, and to an hourly pay of approximately $115, considering that a full-time year consists of 2,080 hours of work.
The median wage of these professionals is a little higher – around $275,000 per annum, which indicates that half of the skin doctors working in the USA earn more than $275,000/year, while the other half of them earn under $275,000/year.
The best paid 10 percent of these physicians earn over $400,000 per year and the lowest paid 10% take home under $110,000 each year. At the beginning of their career, these practitioners earn, on average, around $95,000/year.
Dermatologist Salary in the UK
In the United Kingdom, dermatologists earn between £72,000 and £300,000 per year (in US dollars: $90,000 ~ $375,000), which means that their hourly income ranges from £35 to £144. The average pay for this occupation is somewhere in the region of £120,000/year, while the median income is around £105,000/year.
Dermatologist Salary in Canada
Those wondering “how much does a dermatologist make in Canada?” should know that, in 2016, the average yearly salary for this profession was around C$115,000 (approx. 87,000 USD), which is equivalent to an hourly income of C$55.
Dermatologist Salary in Australia
In Australia, the skin specialists take home between 65,000 AUD and 230,000 AUD or even more, depending on the level of experience and number of subspecialties.
The physicians who are specialized in dealing with the cutaneous problems are among the best paid medical doctors. They are best paid in the United States of America and in the United Kingdom, where they earn six-figure wages pretty quickly.
The experience level and the subspecialties of practice (especially the surgical ones) affect their incomes the most. With around $240,000 in the USA and about £120,000 in the UK as the average annual salary, the dermatologists are among the happiest workers in the healthcare system.
 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Physicians and Surgeons,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physicians-and-surgeons.htm (visited March 01, 2017).
 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Skincare Specialists,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/skincare-specialists.htm (visited February 28, 2017).