Dermatologists treat patients with a wide variety of skin, hair and nail conditions. 

Female doctor reading book in library

Life as a dermatologist 

You’ll treat common conditions such as:  

  • skin cancer 
  • eczema 
  • psoriasis 
  • acne 
  • severe drug rashes 

You’ll treat patients of all ages from babies to the elderly. Many of your patients will have conditions that significantly impact their lives so your work will be of huge importance to a great number of people. 

Patients could present with approximately 2,000 different skin conditions, and you could be involved in: 

  • removing skin cancers 
  • diagnostic biopsies, for example of rashes 
  • UV light therapy for inflammatory dermatoses 
  • contact dermatitis investigation 
  • examining and diagnosing skin conditions using a dermatoscope  
  • intralesional injections (for example steroid, botulinum toxin) 
  • cryosurgery for precancerous or benign skin lesions 

Where you work will vary. You could work from a primary care setting such as a GP’s surgery or be based in a hospital.  

You’ll likely become a skin surgeon as well as a skin physician. Skin surgery is increasingly popular and important as the prevalence of skin cancer grows. 

As a skin surgeon, you will likely work in an operating theatre at least once a week.  

As your career progresses, you may become a consultant dermatologist with the responsibility to lead a large multidisciplinary team and cross-consult with other specialists. 

How much can I earn? 

You’ll first earn a salary when you start your foundation training after medical school. The basic salary ranges from £32,398 to £37,303. Once you start your specialty training in the NHS, you can expect to earn a salary of at least £43,923, which can increase to between £93,666 and £126,281 as a consultant.

How about the benefits? 

  • make a difference 
  • flexible and part-time working 
  • high income early in your career   
  • work anywhere in the world   
  • excellent pension scheme 
  • good holiday entitlement 
  • NHS discounts in shops and restaurants 

Must-have skills 

  • excellent communication skills to manage a wide range of relationships with colleagues, and patients and their families  
  • emotional resilience, a calm temperament and the ability to work well under pressure  
  • teamwork and the capacity to lead multidisciplinary teams  
  • problem-solving and diagnostic skills  
  • outstanding organisational ability and effective decision-making skills  
  • first-class time and resource management for the benefit of patients  

Entry requirements 

Your first step is medical school. Typically, you’ll need excellent GCSEs and three A or A* passes at A level including chemistry for a five-year undergraduate degree in medicine. Many medical schools also ask for biology and others may require maths or physics.   

If you already have a degree, you could study for a four-year postgraduate degree in medicine.  

You’ll need to pass an interview and admissions test. You’ll be asked to show how you demonstrate the NHS values such as compassion and respect.  

Some medical schools look to recruit a mix of students from different backgrounds and geographical areas, so your educational and economic background and family circumstances could be considered as part of your application. 

What are my chances of starting a career as a dermatologist? 

In 2020, there were 166 applications for 42 specialty training places.  

How to become a dermatologist 

After medical school, you’ll join the paid two-year foundation programme where you’ll work in six placements in different settings.

After your foundation programme, you can apply for paid specialty training to become a dermatologist, which will take a minimum of six or seven years. 

You may be able to train part time, for example for health reasons or if you have family or caring responsibilities. 

Where a career as a dermatologist can take you 

After completing your training, you’ll have the opportunity to specialise in: 

  • advanced skin surgery and Mohs’ micrographic surgery 
  • paediatric dermatology 
  • cutaneous allergy and immunology 
  • advanced medical dermatology 
  • photodermatoses and photobiology 
  • oral and genital dermatoses 
  • hair and nails 
  • cosmetic/aesthetic dermatology 

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