What They Do
O*NET OnLine lists dermatologists' tasks as including examining patients' skin and counseling them on topics such as skin screenings, self-examination, sun protection and skin cancer awareness. More specifically, depending on the patient's symptoms, dermatologists recommend diagnostic tests and make diagnoses; biopsy, surgically remove and/or use medications to treat precancerous lesions and melanoma; use dermabrasion or laser abrasion to treat scars and other skin conditions; and offer therapies such as chemical peels to remove or treat age spots; sun damage; or rough, discolored or oily skin.
Dermatologists work in private or group practices; hospitals and clinics; teach at medical schools; and conduct research. Their research interests may include developing new treatments for the skin. Some dermatologists develop and manufacture their own cosmetics and skin-care products.
According to Education-Portal.com, to become a dermatologist requires first completing a 4-year bachelor's degree and then attending 4 years of medical school, spending the last 2 years working with hospital patients under the supervision of staff doctors. After graduating from medical school they spend 1 year as an intern and 3 years in on-the-job, paid training as a medical resident, after which they must pass a state licensing exam. Those who qualify may seek certification by the American Board of Dermatology.
O*NET OnLine reports projected growth between 2008 and 2018 to be 20 percent or higher, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. The Association of American Medical Colleges reports 2008 data for dermatologists' annual salaries ranging from $287,830 to $385,950.
For more information visit the Association of American Medical Colleges, O*NET OnLine, Education-Portal.com and the American Board of Dermatology.