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At a Glance

  • Treat a variety of skin conditions, from acne to skin cancer
  • Must be board certified
  • Interact with patients and medical staff throughout the day
  • Go to medical school after receiving a bachelor's degree
  • Work indoors

Career summary

Dermatologists treat conditions and diseases of the skin, hair, and nails.

#3/18/19 lh

Dermatologists treat patients of all ages. They treat anything from fungus or bacterial infections of the skin, to cancer. They also treat common skin problems, such as acne and eczema. In addition to medical treatment of skin conditions, dermatologists may also do aesthetic procedures. These procedures are for patients who wish to improve skin tone and decrease signs of aging. Some of these treatments may include laser treatment, botox injections, or collagen injections.

Dermatologists ask patients questions to learn about their medical history. They gather information such as pain experienced, diet, time under the sun, and use of cosmetics. They examine patients' skin under good lighting. They may order lab tests or perform a biopsy before making a diagnosis.

After making a diagnosis, dermatologists explain test results and review treatment options with patients. If more than one treatment is available, they help patients decide which option to choose.

Sometimes dermatologists perform minor surgery on patients, such as removing cancerous or unhealthy lesions from the skin. Most minor surgeries are performed in the doctor's office. Dermatologists monitor a patient's condition and make changes in the treatment if needed.

Dermatologists share similar tasks with other types of physicians, they:

Some dermatologists teach at medical schools. They may also do research on procedures and treatments for skin disease. Advances in medicine require dermatologists to update their skills regularly.

Related careers

This career is part of the Health Science cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to dermatologists.

Common work activities

Dermatologists perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, dermatologists:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Dermatologists frequently:

It is important for dermatologists to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for dermatologists to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Dermatologists need to:


Reason and problem solve

Use math and science

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a dermatologist, you typically need to:

Education after high school

To become a dermatologist, you must complete medical school. Medical schools grant a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree. You spend the first two years of medical school in classrooms and labs. You study anatomy, biochemistry, and medicines. You also learn how to take a medical history, examine patients, and make a diagnosis. During the next two years, you work in hospitals and clinics under the supervision of physicians.

You need a bachelor's degree to get into medical school. While you do not need to be a pre-medicine or science major, these programs are good preparation. If you earn a liberal arts degree, be sure to take courses in physics, biology, and chemistry.

Work experience

It takes 12 to 14 years to become a dermatologist. It's a good idea to decide early if dermatology is the right specialty for you. Volunteer to work in a dermatology office while still in college. Take a paid position as a medical assistant in a dermatology practice. Talk to people in this field and find out what they like about it and what skills and qualities are necessary. A helpful dermatologist may allow you to shadow them for a day or a couple of weeks. This will help you determine if this specialty is right for you.

On-the-job training

While in medical school, you spend two years working as an intern in a hospital or clinic. As an intern, you rotate through internal medicine, family medicine, obstetrics, oncology, and other hospital departments.

After medical school, you complete a residency program in dermatology. Residency lasts up to five years. After your residency, you take additional exams to become board certified.

Military training

The military provides advanced training for doctors. However, it does not provide the initial training to become a doctor. Scholarships for advanced medical training are available in return for a required period of military service.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum (external link) may be different from your state's graduation requirements (external link).

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups (PDF file) that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Many dermatologists begin work in a group practice or clinic. Some go to work for the hospital where they complete their residency.

Employers look for applicants who are inquisitive, compassionate, and patient. It is important to have good communication skills and be an effective decision-maker. Strong analytical and problem-solving skills are also important.

Costs to workers

Dermatologists who join professional associations may pay membership fees and annual dues. They may also attend courses, seminars, and workshops to update their knowledge and keep up to date on changes in their field.

Dermatologists who have borrowed money to pay school expenses have large debt payments for the first few years after graduation. The average debt for medical students who graduated in 2017 was $190,694 with 83% percent owing at least $100,000. Malpractice insurance is expensive. To enter private practice, practitioners must invest in equipment, office space, and staffing costs. Estimated costs range from $75,000 to $100,000 or more.

#Updated AMA debt ifno with 2015 data 4/4/16 using 2015_debt_fact_card.pdf on AAMC website, cj. Updated link for source of debt data & updated info 3/26/18, cj. https://members.aamc.org/iweb/upload/2017%20Debt%20Fact%20Card.pdf



In Washington, dermatologists must be licensed by the Washington State Medical Quality Assurance Commission as either medical or osteopathic doctors. In addition, dermatologists are board certified by the American Board of Dermatology.

General licensing requirements include:

For more information on the US Medical Licensing Exam, call 215.590.9500 or go to the National Board of Medical Examiners (external link) website.

Osteopathic doctors must complete 150 hours of continuing education every three years and medical doctors must complete 200 hours of continuing education every four years.

Licensing fees vary ranging from $491 (medical physicians) to $391 (osteopathic physicians) for the application. The annual renewal fee for osteopathic physicians is $441 and the biannual renewal fee for medical physicians is $657. The combined fee for an application and state exam for osteopathic practitioners is $516. The licensing and the renewal fees generally include an access fee for health-related online library journals and publications and a Washington physician health program surcharge.

For more information on medical doctors, contact:

Washington Medical Commission (external link)
PO Box 47866
Olympia, WA 98504-7866

For information on osteopathic doctors, contact:

Washington State Board of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery (external link)
PO Box 47877
Olympia, WA 98504-7865

#Checked licensing info 3/17/10, cj. Updated url 6/11/12 cj. Checked licensing info, osteo fees changed, 3/3/14 cj.  No change to licensing section 4/4/16 or 3/26/18 cj. 3/18/19 lh


Physicians and surgeons, all other (SOC 29-1069)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $48.36 $79.36 (1) (1) (1)
Monthly $8,381 $13,753 (1) (1) (1)
Yearly $100,600 $165,060 (1) (1) (1)
    Bellingham Hourly $72.55 (2) (2) (2) (2)
Monthly $12,573 (2) (2) (2) (2)
Yearly $150,899 (2) (2) (2) (2)
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $71.33 $84.43 $99.42 (2) (2)
Monthly $12,361 $14,632 $17,229 (2) (2)
Yearly $148,372 $175,633 $206,801 (2) (2)
    Clarkston-Lewiston Hourly $53.58 $97.51 (2) (2) (2)
Monthly $9,285 $16,898 (2) (2) (2)
Yearly $111,434 $202,811 (2) (2) (2)
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $41.79 $60.88 (2) (2) (2)
Monthly $7,242 $10,551 (2) (2) (2)
Yearly $86,905 $126,626 (2) (2) (2)
    Longview Hourly $82.07 (2) (2) (2) (2)
Monthly $14,223 (2) (2) (2) (2)
Yearly $170,709 (2) (2) (2) (2)
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $25.58 $47.63 (2) (2) (2)
Monthly $4,433 $8,254 (2) (2) (2)
Yearly $53,211 $99,052 (2) (2) (2)
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $18.27 $31.23 $98.25 (2) (2)
Monthly $3,166 $5,412 $17,027 (2) (2)
Yearly $38,002 $64,966 $204,361 (2) (2)
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $53.73 $86.69 (2) (2) (2)
Monthly $9,311 $15,023 (2) (2) (2)
Yearly $111,749 $180,323 (2) (2) (2)
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $28.29 $48.86 $93.56 (2) (2)
Monthly $4,903 $8,467 $16,214 (2) (2)
Yearly $58,850 $101,628 $194,605 (2) (2)
    Vancouver Hourly $28.12 $37.37 $73.86 (2) (2)
Monthly $4,873 $6,476 $12,800 (2) (2)
Yearly $58,485 $77,735 $153,643 (2) (2)
    Walla Walla Hourly $37.55 $56.33 $60.19 $72.58 (2)
Monthly $6,507 $9,762 $10,431 $12,578 (2)
Yearly $78,115 $117,177 $125,194 $150,965 (2)
    Wenatchee Hourly $58.09 $92.04 (2) (2) (2)
Monthly $10,067 $15,951 (2) (2) (2)
Yearly $120,826 $191,441 (2) (2) (2)
    Yakima Hourly $80.87 $96.36 (2) (2) (2)
Monthly $14,015 $16,699 (2) (2) (2)
Yearly $168,219 $200,420 (2) (2) (2)
United States Hourly $28.98 $53.58 $96.58 (1) (1)
Monthly $5,022 $9,285 $16,737 (1) (1)
Yearly $60,280 $111,440 $200,890 (1) (1)

(1) Wages are greater than $90/hour or $187,200/year.
(2) Wage estimate is not available.

Wages vary by employer, years of experience, and hours worked. The doctor's skill, personality, and professional reputation also affect wages. Self-employed dermatologists generally earn more than those who are not self-employed.

Dermatologists usually receive benefits. Typical benefits include sick leave, paid vacation, health insurance, and a retirement plan. Dermatologists who are self-employed must provide their own insurance and retirement plan.

National wage information is not available specifically for dermatologists. However, they are part of the larger group of "all other physicians and surgeons."

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook


The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Physicians and Surgeons, All Other (SOC 29-1069)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 9,109 19.9% 16.1% 620
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 151 -4.6% 13.4% 3
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 109 15.6% 8.6% 6
    Benton and Franklin Counties 267 26.6% 15.0% 22
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 264 24.2% 11.9% 20
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 547 21.4% 15.2% 38
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 338 17.2% 14.1% 21
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 364 20.3% 14.6% 25
    King County 4,362 19.6% 19.6% 294
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 243 18.9% 13.8% 16
    Pierce County 678 20.1% 15.2% 46
    Snohomish County 973 21.7% 12.4% 70
    Spokane County 669 18.7% 13.9% 43
United States 433,700 7.8% 5.2% 16,500

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Much of the demand for dermatologists will be a result of a growing population. As the population grows, the number of people in need of care from dermatologists will increase. In addition, an aging population will increase the number of people with conditions that require treatment from dermatologists.

Employment and outlook information is not available specifically for dermatologists. However, they are part of the larger group of "all other physicians and surgeons."

Other resources

American Academy of Dermatology (external link)
PO Box 4014
Schaumburg, IL 60168
American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (external link)
5550 Friendship Boulevard, Suite 310
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
American Board of Dermatology (external link)
2 Wells Avenue
Newton, MA 02459
American Medical Association (external link)
American Medical Association - Medical Student Section (external link)
American Osteopathic Association (external link)
142 East Ontario Street
Chicago, IL 60611


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupation

Strong Interest Inventory

Holland occupational cluster