Cosmetic Dermatologist: Job Duties, Salary and Requirements

Sep 21, 2019

A cosmetic dermatologist requires significant formal education. Learn about the degree programs, job duties, and licensure to see if this is the right career for you.

A cosmetic dermatologist is a dermatologist that specializes in cosmetic issues as well as research. Working as a cosmetic dermatologist requires significant education and training in addition to medical school. Learn more about what kind of skin ailments a cosmetic dermatologist treats, and how to become a practicing, licensed cosmetic dermatologist.

Essential Information

Cosmetic dermatology is a subfield of dermatology that serves individuals with aesthetic concerns. Cosmetic dermatologists provide medical and surgical treatments to people with problems such as bacterial or fungal infections, aging, acne, allergic reactions, unwanted hair, benign skin growths, and uneven skin pigmentation. They need to have completed medical or osteopathy school, hold a medical license to practice, and have completed at least four years of additional training. Many also become board certified as dermatologists.

Required Education Doctor of Medicine or Osteopathy degree, plus four years of clinical training and a residency
Licensing All states require licensing
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 7% for all physicians and surgeons*
Median Salary (2018) $251,282 for all dermatologists**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **

Job Duties

Some of the factors that damage the skin are stress, fluctuating hormone levels, too much sun exposure, unhealthy lifestyle, underlying medical conditions, and aging. Cosmetic dermatologists offer consultation, diagnosis, and treatment to patients who are interested in improving their skin condition. The procedures and services that cosmetic dermatologists use--such as Botox injections, laser hair removal, skin tightening, chemical peels, sclerotherapy, collagen fillers, and microdermabrasion--may lead to revitalized, blemish-free skin. There are also cosmetic dermatologists who specialize in areas such as hair loss, hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), or laser tattoo removal.

Aside from performing common or specialized cosmetic procedures, cosmetic dermatologists may contribute to scientific research in hospitals and universities. They seek to find intervention for skin cancer, accelerated aging, and other skin infections by examining cellular and genetic components that may contribute to skin problems and studying molecular biology. Furthermore, their research findings aid in the development of safe, new products and technologies for skin enhancement.

Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment of all surgeons and physicians was expected to rise as fast as the average between 2018 and 2028. According to in 2019 the salaries earned by such physicians ranged from $94,000 to $398,000 per year.


To qualify for professional practice, a cosmetic dermatologist has to get certified by the American Board of Dermatology (ABD). To take the certifying exam, a candidate must graduate from an accredited medical or osteopathic school and present a valid, unrestricted license to practice medicine. In addition to that, a candidate is required to fulfill four years of postgraduate training, which includes one year of clinical training in an accredited core program and a three-year dermatology residency program.

Residency training covers studies in science fields such as anatomy, biochemistry, and oncology. Participants can experience inpatient and outpatient care during the training. Individuals demonstrate competency in various cosmetic and medical procedures like topical and systemic pharmacotherapy, laser surgery, preventive medicine, procedures to counter allergies, and dermatologic surgery.

After completing medical school, an aspiring cosmetic dermatologist must complete a dermatology residency and clinical training. A license to practice medicine is required, and becoming Board Certified is often pursued as well. Cosmetic dermatologists deal with a range of patients' aesthetic concerns, and also may be involved with research or surgery.

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