|Degree Level||Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)|
|Degree Field(s)||Biological sciences (for bachelor's degree) then medical school|
|Licensure/Certification||Licensure required in all states; board certification voluntary|
|Experience||1-year internship, 3-year residency|
|Key Skills||Compassionate and patient; good communication, organizational, and problem-solving skills; detail-oriented and manually dexterous|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)*||14% growth|
|Median Annual Salary (2016)**||$204,072|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, PayScale.com
Dermatologists are medical doctors who diagnose and treat ailments of the largest organ of the human body and advise patients on achieving healthy and attractive skin. During patient visits, dermatologists take medical histories and use a dermoscope, or magnifying or illuminated device, to detect abnormalities or malignancies. They might use diagnostic techniques, such as biopsies, to identify diseases and determine appropriate therapies. Areas of specialization include cosmetic dermatology; pediatric dermatology; and dermatopathology, or the study of skin diseases.
How to Become a Dermatologist
Prospective dermatologists must first obtain a bachelor's degree, taking courses in English, math, inorganic and organic chemistry, physics and biology. Then they must complete medical school, where they'll spend the first two years studying human anatomy and physiology, microbiology, pathology and medical ethics, among other subjects.
During the last two years, they'll work with hospital patients under the supervision of staff doctors. Graduation from medical school is followed by a 1-year year internship, three years of on-the-job training as a medical resident, a state-licensing exam and, for those who qualify, certification by the American Board of Dermatology (ABD).
Dermatologists must be emotionally stable, motivated to serve others, able to work long hours and willing to engage in lifelong learning. Compassion for patients and good communication, organizational and problem-solving skills, are key. Dermatologists should also be detail oriented, manually dexterous and patient when dealing with individuals or young children who are anxious about treatments.
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Career and Salary Outlook
Career opportunities for physicians and surgeons in general were predicted to grow by 14% nationwide from 2014 to 2024, which was faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). According to Payscale.com, dermatologists earned a median annual salary of $204,072 as of January 2016.
Students who aren't sure if dermatology is the right career for them, might be interested in learning more about the related careers of chiropractor and dentist.
Alternate Career Options
Chiropractors work with patients who are suffering from neuromusculoskeletal pain, including that which may be associated with the bones, muscles and nerves. Treatments used to alleviate back and neck discomfort include physical manipulations and spinal adjustments. A Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.), as well as a state license, are required in order to work in the field.
According to the BLS, employment opportunities for chiropractors were expected to increase by 17% nationwide between 2014 and 2024. As of January 2016, chiropractors earned a median annual salary of $58,739, according to Payscale.com
Dentists examine and treat patients having issues with their gums, teeth or other related features. They also work proactively to prevent oral and tooth-related conditions and diseases by providing patients with information about nutrition and oral hygiene. Graduates who have completed a 4-year undergraduate degree program, especially one that includes courses in biology, chemistry and other sciences, can apply to accredited dental schools and start fulfilling the requirements for state licensure.
Between 2014-2024, the BLS projected 18% growth in jobs nationwide for dentists. Dentists earned a median annual salaries of $123,942 based on Payscale.com's figures from January 2016.