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STEAM Career Spotlight: Dermatologist

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

By Siri Doddapaneni

Dermatologists are highly trained medical doctors focused on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of skin disorders. They perform critical work, helping patients with complex conditions like skin cancer, eczema, and psoriasis, assisting people with a range of cosmetics issues and restoring skin health for an enhanced quality of life.

A dermatologist is a medical doctor who diagnoses and treats conditions related to the skin, hair, and nails. To become a dermatologist, students must complete a bachelor's degree, typically focusing on biology or another scientific field as an undergraduate major. Admissions to medical school requires courses in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and English. In medical school, future dermatologists complete four additional years of education, including coursework in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, and internal medicine. During the third and fourth years, students examine patients under physician supervision during clinical rotations. After earning their medical degree, aspiring dermatologists then complete a residency in dermatology, gaining three years of supervised training in both medical and surgical management of skin diseases.

The median salary for dermatologists in the United States is over $300,000 per year. Those in private practice tend to earn more than dermatologists employed by hospitals or academic institutions. Board certification by the American Board of Dermatology (ABD) is required for most jobs. Many dermatologists choose to subspecialize, completing additional training in a particular area like pediatric dermatology, dermatopathology, immunodermatology, or cosmetic dermatology. These subspecialties allow for higher pay but also require more years of education and training.

As physicians, dermatologists have a demanding job with irregular hours spent conducting patient exams, performing tests, prescribing medications, conducting surgeries, and managing a team that may include nurses and other support staff. Excellent diagnostic skills, communication abilities, and fine motor coordination are essential to the work. While challenging, a career in dermatology offers the rewards of helping patients with diseases affecting the integumentary system achieve skin health and an improved quality of life.

Works Cited

“What Is a Dermatologist?” American Academy of Dermatology, 5 Oct. 2022,

“Dermatologist: Career and Salary Facts.” Learningpath.Org,


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