Dermatologists treat skin, hair and nail disorders, and some beautify a person's appearance. Enter the field of dermatology and you'll reap the rewards, from a bank account that can see a huge deposit of money each payday to a work week that doesn't see you chained to the desk for hours on end. But those benefits aren't easy to come by -- dermatology is a highly competitive field to get into.
If you enjoy the sight of Benjamin Franklin's face on money, you'll love being a dermatologist. Physicians in general earn boatloads of money, but dermatologists really rake in the greenbacks, to the tune of an average of $283,000 in 2011, according to Medscape's 2012 Physician Compensation Report compiled from survey results. That number hides an important statistic: women dermatologists earned significantly less than men. Women earned an average annual salary of $252,000, while men pulled in 24 percent more at $313,000. The average annual salary for all physicians in 2012 was $184,820, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Reasonable Work Week
Putting in long hours at work often translates to more stress. That's not as much of a concern for a dermatologist. According to Medscape's 2012 Physician Compensation Report, 52 percent of dermatologists reported spending between 30 and 40 hours per week in direct patient care. Only 30 percent of all physicians surveyed said they worked similar hours -- most worked more. Working fewer hours each week than you would in another specialty gives you plenty of free time to spend with your family, your dog, yourself or with hundreds of other people at the mall, spending a chunk of that massive paycheck.
Perform Surgeries and Variety of Patients
Many physicians don't have the option of treating their patients' conditions non-surgically and surgically. It's usually one or the other. Think of your family doctor: if you need your wrist operated on, a kidney stone taken out or anything that requires a surgical approach, he's not going to be the one who does it. Dermatologists are trained in surgical and non-surgical procedures, injecting some variety into their career and making their work week a little less routine. Speaking of variety, become a dermatologist and you'll treat patients from all walks of life, from little rascals who have a bad case of acne to adults who want their wrinkly skin to be a thing of the past.
In most communities, dermatologists are some seriously sought-after docs. Skin conditions are prevalent in most age groups. Teens often go through bouts of acne, older men and women aren't awfully excited about losing their hair, people want treatment for their varicose veins, and skin cancer, thanks largely to tanning beds, is rearing its ugly head more and more. Beyond medical conditions that need to be treated, cosmetic fixer-uppers are also often requested, especially when the economy is trucking along and people have more disposable income.
Calling yourself a dermatologist requires you to graduate with a doctorate of medicine or doctorate of osteopathic medicine. With your professional degree in hand, you'll march right into a dermatology residency program for about four years. After passing a few board exams, you can begin practicing as a general dermatologist or choose to pursue a fellowship to become certified in a subspecialty, such as cosmetic dermatology, pediatric dermatology and dermatopathology. Matching with a dermatology residency program is difficult. It's highly competitive. You'll need excellent grades, high board scores and lots of research experience.
- Oncology Fellows: Volume 4, Issue 2, June 2012
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2012: Physicians and Surgeons, All Other
- Medscape: Physician Frustration Grows, Income Falls -- But a Ray of Hope
- American Academy of Dermatology: What Is a Cosmetic Dermatologist?
- Mayo Clinic: Skin Cancer on the Rise in Young People
- University of Massachusetts Medical School: Subspecialties in Dermatology
- MedEdits: Getting Into Residency: Most Important Factors
- Becker's Hospital Review: 200 Statistics on Physician Compensation
- Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images
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