What is a Dermatologist

A dermatologist is a specialist in the medical branch related to hair, nails, and skin, and the diseases therein. A dermatologist takes care of disease and cosmetic issues in these areas, with a wide range of potential patients.

Work Environment

Dermatologists tend to work in their own practices, though can also be found in hospitals or in joint practices with their colleagues. As they tend have their own practice, their environment will be aesthetically whatever they wish, and they will require a secretary or other administrative professional.

Surgical work tends to be done on an outpatient basis, so dermatologists rarely have emergency or on call work. They will generally keep normal business hours, rather than working evenings or weekends.

Work Schedule

As mentioned, the work schedule tends to revolve around regular business hours. However, should a dermatologist wish, they can alter their regular schedule, running their business at whichever hours they wish, and are most convenient.

Dermatologists in a hospital or other organization will be more beholden to the organization’s hours. Hospitals, especially, may require emergency hours or on call time, though the nature of the work itself allows for a minimal amount of this.

Mean Annual Dermatologist Salary

A dermatologist in the US can make around $303,325 a year. The lowest 10% of  dermatologist salaries are less than $220,688. The top 10% of dermatologist salaries reach more than $404,820.

Dermatologist Salary: Quick Summary

2012 Mean Salary$303,325 per year
$145.83 per hour
Top 10% Salary$404,820 per year
$194.63 per hour
Bottom 10% Salary$220,688 per year
$106.10 per hour
Number of Jobs, 2012691,400 (All Physicians)

Job Outlook

Dermatologist job outlooks are not particularly promising. While there are many joining the field each year (approximately 30,000), the overall employment rate in not expected to climb greatly; it has reached a plateau as a specialty, and demand is not expected to grow for any particular reason.

While there is an aging population of baby boomers, this unfortunately does not greatly affect dermatologist job prospects. The supply is stable with demand, and so while entering the field is a good idea if you have a passion for the specialty, there is no growing need.

Salary Analysis

Dermatologist’s salary is affected by several factors, many of them working inversely to the manner they affect other health care specialties. For instance, where a physician may earn more working privately than one working in the public sector, the opposite is true for dermatologists.

Experience plays a major role, as does geographic location. Those working in metropolitan areas will generally earn more than those in rural areas, though this is again dependent on whether the dermatologist is publically or privately employed.

The average wage fluctuates with these various factors, but in general hovers around $300,000 per year.

Education and Specialization 

Specialization is a particular area that can lead to remunerative differences. There are many paths open to dermatologists, including dermatopathology (pathology of the skin), immunodermatology (immune-mediated skin disorders), Mohs surgery (a particular branch of surgery related to skin cancers), and pediatric dermatology (dermatology for infants and children). However, the most lucrative specialization, depending on the geographic location, is that of cosmetic dermatology; if the dermatologist works in an area with high demand for cosmetic surgery (such as Los Angeles), the pecuniary benefits are great.

Experience and Position 

As with most positions, the more experience one has, the greater the desire for their services. Dermatologists just starting their career can expect to make an average of $130,000 per year, whereas those who have been working for more than 10 years can expect much closer to the $350,000 average.


Dermatologists employed in the public sector, such as for a hospital, can expect to earn between $195,000 and $305,000, whereas self-employed dermatologists (in a private practice) will earn between $150,000 and $250,000. Working for a hospice or clinic will bring an average salary of $245,000 per year.


As with most health care positions, the geographic location of a dermatologist will also greatly impact their salary. In particular, western states such as Arizona and California tend to offer higher salaries, in part due to the weather’s impact on people’s skin.

Metropolitan areas will offer even more possibilities for dermatologist salary; the most lucrative areas include Houston, at $297,000; Manhattan, at $274,000; and Phoenix, at $245,000.