Difference Between Allergist & Dermatologist

Allergists and dermatologists both work with patients to improve their health conditions; however, the type of conditions they treat differ. Below is a highlight of educational requirements, job responsibilities, and job outlooks that may help you determine which career is best for you.

Comparing Allergists to Dermatologists

A career as an allergist or dermatologist may be suitable for those who are compassionate, have good interpersonal skills, and are interested in medicine. However, while they both provide direct patient care, they each focus on different health issues. The main similarities and differences between these two patient-centered careers are outlined below.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2014-2024)**
Allergist Doctoral Degree $237,708 14% (Physician & Surgeon)
Dermatologist Doctoral Degree $325,257 14% (Physician & Surgeon)

Sources: *Salary.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Allergists vs. Dermatologists

Allergists and dermatologists assist patients with medical issues and can work independently or as part of a group practice. Both fields are medical specialties that focus on a specific aspect of the human body. An allergist specializes in treating conditions like seasonal or food allergies, as well as auto-immune diseases like lupus. In contrast, a dermatologist specializes in treating skin conditions, such as acne or skin cancer, and performs procedures like biopsies or laser abrasions.

Allergist

As an allergist, you will be working in a specialty under the broader umbrella of internal medicine, with the option of opening your own practice or joining an established one. Allergists specialize in determining what allergic illnesses, such as asthma or hay fever, a patient may have and developing customized plans for patients to better manage their conditions. You will do so by conducting tests like skin pricks or hypersensitivity tests to properly diagnose patients. Once diagnosed, you will instruct patients on the best way to deal with their conditions. As an allergist, you will need to complete a doctoral degree and a residency in pediatrics or internal medicine, or a combination of both. You must then complete a two-year fellowship of specialized training through a program accredited by the American Medical Association and obtain certification through the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.

Job responsibilities of an allergist include:

  • Meeting with patients and discussing their medical histories
  • Working with other medical providers to ensure patients receive comprehensive care
  • Prescribing appropriate medications to patients like antihistamines
  • Performing studies and sharing relevant findings with colleagues

Dermatologist

As a dermatologist, you will conduct physical examinations on patients to identify and treat any skin abnormalities or issues. Dermatologists assist patients with chronic conditions, such as acne or psoriasis, by prescribing contraceptives, antibiotics, or topical creams. You will also assist patients with cancerous issues by performing biopsies and educating them on the importance of annual screenings and utilizing sun protection. Dermatologists can work in private practice or a group one. This career requires a doctoral degree and the completion of a residency in a chosen specialty. You must then pass the medical licensing examination, with the option to pursue board certification through the American Board of Dermatology.

Job responsibilities of a dermatologist include:

  • Performing skin surgeries as part of treatment plans or to improve physical appearance
  • Administering tests like chest X-rays or endocrinologic tests to accurately diagnose conditions
  • Determining if patients meet criteria for cosmetic procedures like laser resurfacing or liposuction
  • Assisting patients with scars by providing laser abrasion or dermabrasion

Related Careers

If you would like to become an allergist, consider a job as a physician assistant, as both careers involve working with patients to improve their health. Those interested in a position as a dermatologist may be interested in a job as a podiatrist, as both jobs may involve treating skin issues.


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