dermatologist salary and what you need to know

Dermatologists are necessary medical professionals who will always be in demand at some level. If someone is considering this field as their profession, they should know not just the dermatologist salary but that it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to become a dermatologist, just like any doctor. This is a profession in the medical field that requires the same amount of schooling and perseverance as any other type of physician.

To become a dermatologist, one must attend a four-year university and receive a bachelor’s degree in the field of their choosing, but then they have to attend medical school for an additional four years.

Following medical school, dermatologists are still not finished with their education. Those hoping to become a dermatologist will have to complete a year of clinical training, in addition to a residency in the field – which takes at least three years to complete. That all adds up to twelve years of schooling to become qualified in this field.

Needed Requirements to Become a Dermatologist

That is still not all the schooling that is necessary for some dermatologists. If someone studying dermatology decides to practice a subspecialty, like dermatopathology or pediatric dermatology, they will require even more training. No matter what, a hopeful dermatologist must attain a license to practice medicine, and they can even become certified by a dermatology association.

Becoming a dermatologist is no easy feat, but once someone has made their way through all of this schooling, they can finally practice medicine. A dermatologist can expect their day to day work to consist of meeting with patients, listening to medical concerns, and providing treatment. Some of the common diagnoses that dermatologists encounter are acne, psoriasis, skin cancer, hair loss, wrinkles, and eczema, but dermatologists do treat more than 3,000 diseases.

Private Practice

Many dermatologists work within a private practice, rather than at a hospital. However, many dermatologists are likely to provide consultation services to hospitals in addition to their regular practice. Most procedures dermatologists perform are outpatient procedures, so their work-life balance tends to be better than most professionals in the medical field.

After completing schooling, many dermatologists make quite a bit of money, but there are a lot of factors that can influence the actual salary of an individual dermatologist. The substantial starting salary many dermatologists receive upon first entering the field can be grown substantially simply by staying in the field, gaining experience, and developing new skills across other subspecialties over time.

Average Dermatologist Salary

While salaries range widely for dermatologists, that wide gap is largely due to experience in the field. According to PayScale, a dermatologist salary can range from $90,400 to $343,441 annually. The national average pay for dermatologists is closer to the high end of that range though.

National average dermatologist salary: $241,000

While that number is very high, it is only the average pay for dermatologists. Someone in this profession will make a varying amount based on experience, whether they are at the entry level of their field or late in their career.

1. Average entry-level salary: $204,850

2. Average mid-career salary: $209,670

3. Average late-career salary: $291,610

While it is clear that experience creates some difference in salary for dermatologists, it must not be the only factor. Because the late-career average salary is only $291,610, but the high end of a typical dermatologist range for salary is $343,441, there must be other factors that can raise this salary by nearly $50,000.

Dermatologist Salary Factors and Influences

No matter what stage a dermatologist is at in their career, there are things they can do to increase their take-home pay – especially for the next year of their practice. Such factors as bonus pay, location, and subspecialty will make a big difference for this career.

Depending on your practice and the structure in place, a dermatologist could receive a bonus at the end of the year up to $72,000. Add that to the possibility of a profit share, which could be as much as $35,000. That is an extra $100,000 that is available to this profession, just for doing a great job throughout the year and helping to increase profits.


Next, location is a factor for dermatologist pay. Reasons for the location being a factor in pay could relate to the relative incomes of patients, generational wealth in certain areas, or cost of living.

Finally, the subspecialty a dermatologist chooses to practice has a big impact on their income. They could be paid higher if it is a specialty not many other dermatologists practices, or it could be that the field is full of that specialty, making it slightly less valuable.

Dermatologist Salary Compared to Other Fields

Obviously, dermatology is just one possible medical field that students can choose to dedicate themselves to. There are others that could be equally as fascinating or even more so, depending on what someone is interested in. All of these medical fields make a six-figure salary on average, so deciding between them comes down to interest and how much someone personally hopes to make.

The average salary for Pediatrician: $149,000

Average salary for Ophthalmologist: $216,000

Average salary for Podiatrist: $133,000

Based on these average salaries for other medical fields, it seems that dermatologists are likely to make some of the highest amounts within medicine, though there may be other fields that do make more.

Dermatologist Salary By State

As noted in the section about factors that can affect salary for dermatologists, the location will play a big role. Depending on the area someone lives in, they may make as much as $100,000 more than the national average for dermatologist salaries.

1. Median salary in Virginia: $317,371

2. Median salary in California: $353,556

3. Median salary in Iowa: $310,731

California and Iowa

The difference between salaries in California and Iowa seem large, but it can be explained simply. The cost of living in California is as much as 64% higher than it is in Iowa. Given that drastic difference, it makes sense that a dermatologist makes more in California than in other places.

The difference between the Midwest state and a West coast location is stark, but comparing salaries in Iowa to Virginia is not nearly as drastic. The smaller difference between Iowa and Virginia is likely more representative of differences across the United States than when compared to California.

Skills That Increase Dermatologist Salary

Dermatology requires many of the same skills as other medical professions do, but dermatologists can choose a subspecialty. This subspecialty will have a large effect on their salary, particularly if the subspecialty is one that not many other people practice.

Other skills that may affect salaries for dermatologists include management styles for their assistants and bedside manner with patients. Within a private practice, a doctor must be understanding and patient in order to maintain their level of business.

History of a Dermatologist Career

Since ancient Egyptian civilizations, people have been treating skin conditions using chemicals. However, they did not use many remedies that we would recognize today. Instead, they used items like arsenic, alabaster, animal oils, and sour milk to treat skin conditions – even illnesses like skin cancer. Egyptians used sandpaper to remove scarring as well.

The Greeks and Romans also used herbal and other at-home remedies to treat skin blemishes. With mixtures of pumice, frankincense, myrrh, and tree resins, these people would remove freckles and smooth wrinkles. Some Turkish treatments around the same time used fire and smoke to help exfoliate the skin, preventing damage and clogged pores.


The profession of dermatology has been recognized since at least the 1500s. In 1799, the first comprehensive textbook for dermatology was written, entitled Dermatologia. In the late 1800s, dermatology was used to prevent scarring and smooth wrinkles.

By the 1900s, skin care remedies were changing quickly. In the mid-twentieth century, acid peels became popular, followed by the practice of dermabrasion for exfoliating. Cryosurgery began to increase in popularity to remove blemishes on the skin as well during this time.

Outlook for Dermatologists

Like for many other physicians, the need for dermatologists will not be going anywhere any time soon. As a result, those looking to enter this field can expect to experience a relatively stable job market. In fact, the profession is expected to grow by 13% over the next decade.

As the United States population ages, the need for physicians will rise as well. This is an important aspect to consider, as aging populations experience more illnesses and require more medical attention than most young people. Because our population growth in the United States is stagnant, more physicians will experience higher demand as the elderly become a larger portion of the population.

Final Thought

For anyone interested in the medical field, considering the specialty of dermatology may be a great idea. Unlike most physicians, dermatologists experience a relatively balanced work-life relationship. While the same amount of schooling is required as any other medical field, this is one of the highest paying subsets of medicine. Additionally, dermatologists experience a high level of autonomy in their day to day activity due to the fact that many in this field work in their own private practice.


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