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What Is the Difference Between a Dermatologist & an Esthetician?

The similarities between some professions are superficial. Although dermatologists and estheticians both deal with skin care, they work in different fields and perform very different services. Read on to learn more about how these careers differ.

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Comparing Dermatologists to Estheticians

Dermatologists and estheticians are skin care professionals. The key distinction is that dermatologists are medical doctors and qualified to diagnose and treat medical conditions that affect the skin. Estheticians concentrate on the skin's appearance and may use facials or other treatments to improve the skin's appearance or care for problems such as acne.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Outlook (2014-2024)**
Dermatologists Medical Degree $241,156 15% (for physicians and surgeons, all other)
Estheticians Postsecondary Program and License $38,000 12% (for skincare specialists)

Sources: *PayScale, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Dermatologists vs. Estheticians

Although dermatologists and estheticians both work with people's skin, the similarities in their work are superficial. They have appointments with people, and as part of their duties they will inspect a patient's skin. Dermatologists use medical tests and data to diagnose patients and make decisions about how to treat their condition. They may also perform surgery or other medical procedures to treat patients. Estheticians are focused on the appearance of a person's skin and may help identify issues such as unwanted hairs or acne. They may remove hairs, advise clients on how to properly clean their skin and give clients treatments such as peels.

Dermatologists

Dermatologists are medical professionals, and they must have a medical degree and license to treat patients. They may also need to complete a residency or internship and earn certification to specialize as a dermatologist. Dermatologists may opt to focus on procedural dermatology, which involves performing surgical procedures to correct skin-related issues, or other subfields such as pediatric dermatology, which involves treating children with skin conditions. They spend their careers working with patients with skin disorders, including eczema and skin cancer. They may work in medical offices or clinics, and are usually able to primarily work regular daytime hours.

Job responsibilities of a dermatologist include:

  • Performing patient examinations
  • Conducting and/or ordering medical tests
  • Diagnosing patients
  • Operating on patients
  • Developing a treatment plan
  • Referring patients to other specialists when needed

Estheticians

Estheticians are beauty care professionals who focus on the appearance of the skin. They are required to complete a postsecondary training program and be licensed. A high percentage of estheticians work in personal care, while some may also work in health stores or other retail locations. It's common for them to work during the day and evening, and they may work during the week and on weekends.

Job responsibilities of an esthetician include:

  • Examining their clients' skin
  • Explaining ways to treat blemishes and other issues
  • Recommending products and makeup
  • Applying facials or cleaning clients' skin
  • Removing hair
  • Performing tests

Related Careers

Since dermatologists perform some surgical procedures, those considering this career may also be interested in becoming a surgical assistant. Beauticians also help with skin care, so those considering being an esthetician may also want to explore the option of being a beautician.

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