What Degree Do I Need to Be a Dermatologist?

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What Degree Do I Need to Be a Dermatologist?

If you’re thinking about becoming a dermatologist or just want to learn more about the medical specialty of dermatology, you’ve come to the perfect spot! We have firsthand expertise with this subject as a medical school with students on Dermatology clinical rotations! 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. Dermatology, like other medical specialties, is a high-demand career. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, physician and surgeon careers, which includes dermatologists, are growing at a slower rate than the national average, with 24,800 new positions expected to be created nationally between 2020 and 2030—a growth rate of 3%, which is lower than the national average (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021). 

Dermatologists can operate in a variety of settings, including group practices, healthcare organizations, hospitals, academic institutions, and outpatient clinics. To become a dermatologist, you’ll need to complete years of college, medical residencies, and licensure exams, just like any other medical profession. 

A year of fellowship or residency study is required for those who desire to specialize in a specific field of dermatology. Board certification is the last credential for any medical doctor, and it demands continued medical education and recertification every ten years in dermatology

We’ll go over what a dermatologist does, how to become one, and some frequently asked questions about the field in this post.

What Is a Dermatologist? 

A dermatologist is an Allopathic (M.D.) or Osteopathic (D.O.) physician who has completed a one-year internship followed by a three-year residency in dermatology. They are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting the skin, nails, hair, and mucous membranes. Dermatologists are referred to as “skin doctors” by the general public. Dermatologists have a high degree of education and training to offer patients with proper medical skincare because the skin is the largest organ on the human body.

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 abnormalities, and talk about diagnoses. 

* Creating treatment plans for patients: 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. 

* Treating 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.

* Performing follow-up examinations or treatments: Many dermatological treatments require numerous appointments to complete, and dermatologists must track patient progress in order to appropriately address patients’ concerns. 

The most common causes for a person to consult a Dermatologist, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are: 

* Acne or blemishes on the skin
* Rashes on the skin 
* Skin discoloration
* Skin lesions 

Dermatologists also see patients for the following conditions: 

* Skin cancer
* Hair loss
* Skin infections
* Fingernail or toenail problems
* Eczema and Psoriasis 
* Inflammatory skin disorders like Eczema and Psoriasis

What Is the Average Time It Takes to Become a Dermatologist? 

To become a licensed Dermatologist needs at least 12 years of education and training following high school. This includes the following: 

* Four years of undergraduate college education
* Four years of medical school
* One year of internship 
* Three years of residency 
* One year of fellowship training (optional) 

Do Dermatologists Perform Surgical Procedures? 

Dermatologists are all qualified to perform minor skin surgery. Minor surgeries include skin biopsies and the removal of warts and moles. Dermatologists can also do more complex operations that require anesthesia and follow-up care. Many dermatologists receive further training in order to undertake advanced skin procedures like Mohs surgery.

Is It Worthwhile to Pursue a Career as a Dermatologist? 

In terms of job satisfaction, remuneration, and future job prospects, dermatology is a fantastic professional choice. According to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, over half of their Dermatologist members believe that more Dermatologists are needed in the field as the population ages. Dermatologists are one of the highest-paid physician specialties in terms of money. Pay for Dermatologists can be found in a variety of places online. According to the Medscape Physician Compensation Report for 2020, the average income is $411,000 dollars. 

Another trustworthy source, AAMC Careers in Medicine, which records Dermatologists’ earnings in academia, provides the following figures: 

Associate/full professor: $362,000 
Assistant professor: $299,00

Dermatologists Make an Average Pay

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. 

Related: 12 High-Paying Healthcare Jobs 

Dermatologist Specifications 

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

* Licenses and certifications
* Education
* Training
* Skills 

What Does It Take to Become a Dermatologist?

 Follow these nine steps to becoming a dermatologist: 

Graduate with a bachelor‘s degree. 
Obtain a passing score on the MCAT. 
Obtain a medical degree. 
Pass the USMLE Parts 1 and 2 exams. 
Completing a residency is a must. 
Pass the USMLE section three. 
Obtain a permit. 
Obtain board certification.


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

To become a Dermatologist, you must complete a 12-year or longer school and training program. Obviously, this necessitates a great deal of commitment and sacrifice. Assuming you already have a high school diploma or GED, here are the stages of becoming a Dermatology specialist:

Enroll in a College or University and Complete the Required Curriculum for Medical School Entrance 

Prerequisite courses for most medical schools include mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, organic chemistry, anatomy, and English. Medical admissions experts recommend getting a B or higher in all classes to remain competitive. Other experiences like volunteering, leadership roles, research, and shadowing are surely taken into account by admissions specialists in addition to strong grades. A bachelor’s degree can be obtained in a variety of ways. 

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.

Take the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test)

The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is required for admission to all medical schools in the United States. The MCAT is a computer-based, eight-hour exam. During the COVID 19 Pandemic, however, many schools relaxed this rule. 

It is critical to perform well on this test in order to be considered for medical school. If a predefined MCAT score is not met, several universities use computer algorithms that automatically screen and reject applicants. 

Obtain Acceptance Into an Pathological (M.D.) or Osteopathic (D.O.) Medical School 

Students interested in becoming Dermatologists must apply to and be accepted into an Allopathic (M.D. degree) or Osteopathic (D.O. degree) medical school after completing their undergraduate qualifications. Because medical school admittance is so competitive, excellent GPAs and MCAT scores are crucial. Because most medical schools utilize computer-based algorithms to assess applicants, high scores are required to even be considered for admission. The medical school curriculum is divided into two parts. The first two years are spent in class, learning the fundamental sciences of medicine. Students spend the last two years of medical school in teaching hospitals, where they learn clinical skills and procedures. All medical students must pass two national board examinations during their education. The USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 exams are required for allopathic students. The COMLEX is a board exam for D.O. students that is similar to the COMLEX test. Students apply for an interview for several residency programs in their chosen field during their final year of medical school. Dermatology residencies, of course, are included in this discussion. Medical school students are matched into residency training programs using a computer algorithm method known as “The Match” after the interview process. Finally, medical students finish their education and get ready to start residency.

Begin and Finish the Internship and Residency Programs 

Graduates of medical school now have a limited license to practice and see patients after graduation. They must, however, do so under supervision. A one-year Internship, often known as a transitional or preparatory year, is required of all future Dermatology residents. During this time, trained students with an M.D. or D.O. degree work in teaching hospitals, clinics, and emergency departments to see patients and learn skills that will help them gain a broad understanding of medicine. During this time, you must also complete the USMLE Step 3 or COMLEX Level 3 exams. Dermatology residency is a three-year program that is quite competitive. Residents in Dermatology finally participate in a complete program that focuses solely on Dermatologic Medicine during this period. Residents work in a variety of settings throughout this time, including inpatient and outpatient dermatological consultations, dermatologic surgery, dermatology electives, dermatopathology, and dermatologic research. Residents are also encouraged to present their discoveries at conferences, national and international events, and to publish their findings.

Board Certification Is the Fifth Step 

Although Dermatology board certification is not technically required for professional licensure, it is a desirable credential that indicates knowledge and remarkable ability. For employment, nearly every hospital, clinic, or educational institution requires board certification. The American Board of Dermatology (ABD) and the American Osteopathic Board of Dermatology are two regulating bodies that offer certification to Dermatology residents. 

Fellowship Training (Step 6) (Optional)

Dermatologists might choose to specialize in one of three to four different subspecialties in dermatology. This isn’t required in order to find work. Continue to the next section to learn more about dermatology subspecialties and fellowships.

What Are the Different Types of Dermatology Sub Specialties? 

Dermatology is divided into three sub specialties. The following are some of them:

 * Histopathology — a one-year fellowship 

* one year fellowship in Mohs Micro graphic Surgery and Dermatological Oncology 

* Fellowship in pediatric dermatology (one to three years) 

One year programmer in cosmetic dermatology (Although this is not a recognized specialization of dermatology, it is a common path taken by many residents) 


Dermatologists complete four-year residencies 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 U.S. Medical Licensing Exam, which varies slightly from state to state. 


Dermatologists require the following abilities to succeed in their field: 

Pay Close Attention to the Details 

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. 

Organizing 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. 

Skills in Problem-Solving

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

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