Choosing a career path can be daunting, especially when faced with the prevalent notion that specific fields are deemed “hard.” The uncertainty of what lies ahead can discourage individuals from pursuing what could potentially be their perfect calling.

So, is it hard to become a dermatologist? Let’s find out. If you’re interested in dermatology but hesitant because of the perceived challenges, read on as we explore the obstacles you may face during your pursuit and subsequent practice of dermatology, as well as acknowledge some of the benefits you should keep in mind to make informed decisions about your professional aspirations.

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What Is a Dermatologist?

A dermatologist is a specialized medical professional dedicated to diagnosing, treating, and preventing conditions related to the skin, hair, and nails. These physicians have extensive training in dermatology and possess comprehensive knowledge of a wide range of skin disorders, from issues like acne and eczema to more complex conditions like skin cancer.

Dermatologists play a crucial role in promoting skin health and addressing both medical and cosmetic concerns. They contribute significantly to patient well-being by providing care personalized to the unique needs of each individual.

What do they do?

Dermatologists engage in a wide range of responsibilities centered around maintaining skin health and addressing dermatological concerns. Some of their day-to-day tasks may include:

  • Assessing skin conditions and identifying abnormalities.
  • Recommending and prescribing medications for various skin disorders.
  • Creating personalized treatment plans.
  • Performing biopsies, excisions, and laser treatments.
  • Guiding patients about skincare routines, sun protection, and preventive measures.
  • Staying updated with the latest advancements in dermatology.
  • Working closely with other medical professionals.
  • Performing aesthetic procedures like Botox injections, chemical peels, and laser treatments.
  • Analyzing skin specimens under a microscope to diagnose diseases at a microscopic level.
  • Documenting and updating patient information and treatment plans.
  • Monitoring and assessing the progress of ongoing treatments through regular follow-up appointments.

Challenges of Becoming a Dermatologist


A career in dermatology, like any other profession, comes with its set of challenges that can give individuals pause as they consider this rewarding yet demanding path. Understanding these challenges can provide prospective dermatologists with valuable insights into the realities they may encounter and equip them to make informed decisions about pursuing this career.

Rigorous education and training

Becoming a dermatologist requires a rigorous and extensive education journey. After completing a bachelor’s degree, aspiring dermatologists typically need to pursue medical school, followed by a residency program in dermatology. This ensures a deep understanding of various skin conditions, their diagnoses, and effective treatment methods. However, the demanding nature of this education path can be a significant challenge for those seeking an easier entry into the workforce.

Education length

Another notable challenge in pursuing a dermatology career is the length of education required. The journey from obtaining a bachelor’s degree to completing medical school and dermatology residency spans around 12 years— four years of bachelor’s studies, four years of medical school, and three years of residency plus a preliminary year.

This education timeline poses a significant commitment, requiring resilience and dedication from aspiring dermatologists. Balancing the desire to enter the workforce promptly with the extensive educational requirements becomes a crucial consideration for individuals contemplating this career path.


The financial investment involved in becoming a dermatologist is another substantial challenge. The average cost of college in the United States is approximately $36,436 per year, encompassing expenses such as books, supplies, and daily living. When aspiring dermatologists progress to medical school, the financial commitment significantly intensifies. The average total cost of medical school in the United States is approximately $218,792.

This considerable financial burden and potential student loans highlight the economic challenges of pursuing a dermatology career. Therefore, aspiring dermatologists must carefully weigh these costs against their passion for the field and the potential long-term benefits, making informed decisions about their educational and financial future.

Competitive field

Dermatology stands out as one of the most competitive fields within the medical profession. Aspiring dermatologists often face fierce competition during various processes, from medical school to the residency application, emphasizing the need for academic excellence, research experience, and a standout application to increase their chances in this competitive landscape.


The nature of dermatology involves addressing a myriad of skin conditions, some of which can be emotionally sensitive for patients. Dermatologists need to navigate conversations around appearance, self-esteem, and societal perceptions, requiring a high level of empathy and communication skills. Dealing with these sensitive conditions adds a layer of complexity to the profession, making effective patient interaction and care essential skills for success in dermatology.

Benefits of Becoming a Dermatologist

After exploring the challenges associated with pursuing a career in dermatology, it is crucial to examine the potential benefits that accompany this field. Dermatology offers several advantages, some of which we’ll explore below.

Salary and additional income opportunities

One of the benefits of pursuing a career in dermatology is the potential for a substantial salary. On average, dermatologists in the United States earn approximately $251,627 per year. This competitive compensation rewards their years of rigorous education and training and positions dermatology as a financially rewarding field within the medical profession.

Furthermore, dermatologists have unique opportunities for additional earnings beyond their base salary. For instance, those engaged in cosmetic dermatology procedures or dermatopathology consultations may explore avenues such as selling specialized creams or skincare products. These supplementary income sources can significantly enhance the overall financial prospects for dermatologists, providing an additional layer of financial satisfaction and contributing to the holistic benefits of choosing this medical specialty.

Regular hours

Dermatology offers a distinctive advantage when it comes to working hours. Unlike some medical specialties involving irregular or demanding schedules, dermatologists often benefit from more predictable and regular working hours. This aspect can contribute to a healthier work-life balance, allowing practitioners to manage their time efficiently and potentially reducing the stress associated with unpredictable work schedules.

Diverse specializations

The field of dermatology presents a diverse range of specializations, allowing practitioners to tailor their focus based on personal interests and career goals. Some specialization options within the dermatology field include:

  • Cosmetic dermatology
  • Pediatric dermatology
  • Dermatopathology
  • Dermatological oncology
  • Teledermatology
  • Dermatologic surgery
  • Immunodermatology

Positive impact

Dermatologists play a crucial role in making a positive impact on their patients’ lives. Beyond addressing medical concerns, dermatologists contribute to enhancing individuals’ confidence, self-esteem, and overall well-being by effectively managing and treating various skin conditions. This effect on patients can be personally rewarding, fostering a sense of purpose and fulfillment in the dermatological profession.

Low-stress environment

Dermatology is often regarded as a low-stress medical specialty when compared to some other high-pressure fields. The nature of dermatology consultations and procedures and the generally non-emergent nature of most dermatological issues contribute to a more relaxed atmosphere. This can appeal to individuals seeking a medical career combining expertise with a relatively low-stress level.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, dermatology presents a spectrum of challenges and benefits. As you weigh the difficulties against the rewards, remember that passion and determination can surmount any obstacle. The decision to pursue dermatology should be guided by genuine interest and a commitment to making a positive impact on patients’ lives.

If you’re intrigued by the world of dermatology and seek additional support in navigating the challenges, consider joining our medical school. Here, you’ll find a supportive community and resources to aid your journey toward becoming a dermatologist. So, embrace the uncertainties, embrace the journey, and pave the way for a rewarding career in dermatology. Your future self will thank you for the courage to take the road less traveled by.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to become a dermatologist?

To become a dermatologist, you must first obtain a bachelor’s degree in pre-medical or relevant sciences, then complete medical school to earn a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree. Then, you must undertake a residency in dermatology, and you can choose whether you want to develop your expertise further through a fellowship program.

How many years does it take to be a dermatologist?

It typically takes around 12 years of education and training after high school to become a dermatologist. This includes four years of undergraduate studies, four years of medical school, and three years of dermatology residency, as well as a preliminary year.

How much do dermatologists make a year?

In the United States, dermatologists earn an average annual salary of around $251,627. However, actual earnings may vary based on factors like location, experience, and specialization.

Is dermatology competitive?

Yes, dermatology is considered one of the most competitive fields, which is why applicants often need excellent academic records, clinical experience, and research involvement to increase their chances of joining the field.

Is becoming a dermatologist worth it?

The worth of becoming a dermatologist varies for each individual. Factors such as passion for the field, financial considerations, and personal fulfillment can help determine that.

What skills do you need to be a dermatologist?

Some of the skills needed to fulfill a dermatologist’s responsibilities include clinical skills, communication, attention to detail, empathy, etc.

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