How to Make the Most of a Dermatologist's Salary (2023)

If you are a dermatologist, you’re probably aware that you’ve chosen one of the top-paying physician specialties.

However, were you aware that even within the practice of dermatology, there can be a wide range in salary from one dermatologist to another?

Why this gap in pay when all dermatologists go through the same amount of training? How can you ensure that you are on the higher end of the spectrum?

Many factors can affect a dermatologist’s salary.

We’ll outline them so you can take advantage of a few, receive fair pay, and possibly even increase your wealth as a dermatologist.

Let’s dig a little deeper into some business strategies that can help you attract the right kind of patients.

Of course, we always encourage smart investments. Remember, once you successfully increase your salary, you’ll need more financial protection to cover it.

Dermatologist Average Salary

When looking for the most accurate national average salary for physicians in any specialty, we look to our 2022 Physician Compensation Report. According to last year’s report, the median dermatologist makes average annual earnings of $394,00

In 2020, only 66% of dermatologists felt fairly compensated. The other 44% would like to see better pay. Are you among that group?

This article can help you make the most of your dermatologist’s salary.

Factors That Affect a Dermatologist Salary

As with any professional career, varying pay happens across the country, from one practice to another.

We will discuss what causes this difference in pay. Then dive into how you might adjust your circumstances to make your income higher than the national average for a dermatologist.

Years of Experience

As expected, a dermatologist in residency will earn much less than one who has had years of practice. Yet, you can still start out making a good income as many residents have reported earning around $260,000 in average base salary, according to

With more experience, a dermatologist can expect to earn more pay, and it doesn’t take long. Within six years of residency, a dermatologist could earn over $365,000 per year.


In areas of the country where there is a higher cost of living, dermatologists earn higher pay. Places with a higher saturation of elderly residents also offer a higher salary for dermatologists since they are in high demand.

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The cities in the United States where dermatologists make the most money include Seattle, Los Angeles, and New York City.

Type of Practice

What type of practice a dermatologist works for will also significantly affect their potential income.

A dermatologist that works at a hospital or outpatient services earns on the low end of the spectrum. There are very few procedures in a hospital setting that would net the dermatologist a fair amount.

For this reason, many dermatologists aim to work in private practice. That way they can focus their attention mostly on the cosmetic procedures that are directly paid by the patient, usually upfront and in full.

Dermatologists have an option to join a group practice. Those in a multi-specialty practice earn less than those who join a single-specialty group practice.

Of course, the best choice is either to own your practice or become a partner in one. These practices can provide the highest pay for a dermatologist. Some have reported earnings of up to $700,000 in 2020.

Quality of Work

For dermatologists in private practice, the quality of their work and patient satisfaction can affect their income. Many patients are repeat patients, and if they aren’t entirely pleased with their care, they could stop returning.

With the highest quality of care and decreasing wait time for your patients’ appointments, you can increase patient satisfaction and retention.

Do You Know the Top 10 Places For Physicians to Live and Work? Download our e-book to find out where you should apply.

Dermatologists and Their Student Loan Debt

Dermatologists earn more because they have more training, but that further training wasn’t free. This extra training may translate into more medical school loan interest accrued for the dermatologist.

When you have completed your training, you are expected to make payments on these loans, and the monthly payment can be quite large. If you choose to follow a subspecialty, you’re looking at more certification fees and loans.

How you choose to repay these loans can put more money in your pocket at the end of the month and save you thousands in the long run.

For more insight into your student loan repayment options read: The Full Breakdown to Medical School Student Loans.

Subspecialties for Dermatologist Jobs

How to Make the Most of a Dermatologist's Salary (2)
Within the specialty of dermatology, there are subspecialties that you can choose as your job title. These differing subspecialties bring various challenges and work styles. They also come with a different expected salary range.

Pediatric Dermatology

As a pediatric dermatologist, your job title explains the job well. You will need to complete a residency for dermatology and another in pediatrics to complete your training.

Otherwise, you can complete a fellowship after residency. Children and young adults face many skin conditions, and this subspecialty is in very high demand. Especially with very few doctors specializing in this field in the health system.

(Video) 6 HIGHEST Paid Doctor Specialties

According to the Merritt Hawkins dermatology white paper, the imbalance of supply and demand in this specialty provides a very competitive starting salary opportunity.

You wouldn’t even have to work full time in this subspecialty to out earn many in the medical field. The hefty sign-on bonus and healthy hourly wage make the total compensation of a pediatric dermatologist a very worthy career choice.

Cosmetic Dermatology

The nature of this subspecialty provides these doctors with an above-average dermatologist salary. The total compensation of a cosmetic dermatologist is very dependent on the quality of care.


This subspecialty can be gained by either a pathologist or a dermatologist. They must complete a dermatopathology fellowship for one year after their residency.

Procedural Dermatology

This subspecialty involves the surgical side of dermatology. You would be performing incisions and surgeries to remove lesions and other skin diseases.

A procedural dermatologist trains in surgery, pathology, and dermatology. This requires extra time in residency. Being trained in Mohs surgery is also a vital part of this career, another year or two of fellowship included.

Further Reading: Preparing for Your Job Search After Residency

Additional Ways to Increase How Much Dermatologists Make

How to Make the Most of a Dermatologist's Salary (3)
Due to COVID 19 keeping many people home and other factors, dermatologists have seen a slight decrease in compensation.

However, there are ways that you can you ensure that you retain and grow your dermatologist practice.

Part Business Plan

If you are in a group specialty private practice, do your best to make partner. This will increase your salary by giving you part of the profits. How well the practice is doing can greatly affect how much this added profit will be.

To help keep the high-profile patients happy, and receiving the highest quality of care, hire a medical assistant or two. While your assistants care for routine visits, you can focus on those high-profile cases.

It’s also vital that you market yourself to patients with higher income or excellent insurance. You can do this in a variety of ways.

Make yourself a known expert by giving talks at beauty conventions, varying media channels, and anywhere else that a crowd of potential patients may be.

Tailor your marketing to the wealthy in your local market. Then branch out to social media marketing and possibly paid advertising.

You can even increase your expertise by performing clinical trials to get your name known to your peers.

Part Effective Practice

As with any business model, the focus should be to deliver the highest quality of service. Cut down on wait times, since this is one of the biggest complaints of dermatology patients.

(Video) Dermatologist - Skin Specialist | How To Become A Dermatologist - Eligibility, Process And Salary

Practice friendliness and allow patients to participate in surveys. It’s essential not only to make the patient feel like you’re treating their dermatological issues but also that you’re listening to their concerns.

Your staff should be well informed of all procedures and on the same page so that they can effectively answer patients’ questions.

If at all possible, make the added effort to minimize pain in any procedure. When you effectively make your patients feel comfortable, you can benefit from the best marketing type — word of mouth.

Outsourcing coding and billing may ensure the most collection of services and cuts down on the paperwork of already busy staff.

Even if you target the higher income bracket of your community, you can still earn a good portion of your patients from Medicaid or Medicare patients. Participate in MIPS to help increase your bonuses from these patients.

Finding ways to partner with health insurance companies can improve the acceptance rate for your patients’ procedures. Thus enabling them to afford the services without having to pay fully out of pocket.

Related: The Definitive Guide to wRVU Compensation

Building a Retirement

When a dermatologist starts as early as possible to save for retirement, they open up many retirement options. There are a few key options open for those working in a dermatology practice and those employed by a hospital.

Here are your options:

For the Employed Dermatologist

A 401k and a 403b are both considered qualified retirement plans for employees, meaning that all contributions are tax deductible.

The only difference between the two is that a 401k plan is offered by a for-profit company, while a nonprofit company offers the 403b plan.

For Private Practice

If you work in or own a private practice, you have some fully tax-deductible qualified retirement plans to choose from.

These include 401ks as well as a defined benefit plan, a money purchase plan, or a profit-sharing plan. They are all excellent options; it all depends on what works for your particular practice.

If you want to hedge some non-qualified plans against your qualified ones, you can do that as well. But, these plans are not tax-deductible, so keep that in mind. Whether the partners offer these to their employees is totally up to them.

For Both

The Backdoor Roth IRA retirement plans are available for both the employed dermatologist and the independent dermatologist.

You can also use non-qualified executive benefit plans as part of your retirement. Don’t forget the opportunities that you have in other investments. This includes but is not limited to commercial real estate and a HSA.

(Video) Dermatology- The REAL end branch | Salary of a dermatologist | Ft. Dr Anubha Dev

Related Reading: The Complete Guide to Physician Retirement Planning.

Effective Tax Planning

There is no doubt that dermatologists are among the top-earning professionals in the country. This will land them in a higher tax bracket where they pay a lofty sum to Uncle Sam each year.

As a dermatologist, you have options that can reduce that payment. You may be eligible for certain tax deductions, credits, or exempt from some taxes.

With hundreds of dollars in potential savings, it is wise to have a team of financial professionals help you with your tax planning.

Don’t forget to plan for emergencies. Learn about Disability Insurance for Physicians.


As a dermatologist, you will always be in demand. With the rise in skin cancer and inflammatory diseases that involve skin conditions, you won’t have to worry about the need for your services diminishing anytime soon.

Yet, the diversity of your specialty allows for a wide range of income. The ability to focus your career on a subspecialty that draws a higher annual salary is a wise decision.

Dermatology is a competitive industry, and having a solid plan to stay at the top of the ladder can secure your financial wellness for the long haul.

Understandably, business, tax, and financial planning may not be among your higher skills, considering you’ve been spending all your energy becoming an expert in all things skin-related.

Physicians Thrive is here to help you succeed as a dermatologist by giving you a helping hand in growing and protecting your wealth so you can focus on your patients. If you’d like to review your current contract or negotiate a new one for an upcoming position, contact us to speak with a contract review specialist devoted to helping physicians like you.

Are you interested in the salaries of common physician specialties?

See: The FMV of Radiation Oncologists | How to Make the Most of a Dermatologist’s Salary | How to Make the Most of a Pathology Salary | Where Do Trauma Surgeons Make the Most Money? | Plastic Surgeon Salaries | Our Salary and Compensation library.

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(Video) How To Become a Dermatologist | Dr. Sandra Lee


What is the highest paying salary dermatologist? ›

While ZipRecruiter is seeing annual salaries as high as $400,000 and as low as $12,500, the majority of Dermatologist salaries currently range between $277,500 (25th percentile) to $398,000 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $400,000 annually across the United States.

Where do dermatologists get paid the most? ›

The average salary for a dermatologist is $270,8056 per year . Experience and location can affect how much a dermatologist earns. For example, dermatologists in metropolitan areas tend to earn higher salaries. The five cities with the highest pay are Brooklyn and Queens, NY, Houston, TX, Phoenix, AZ, and Reading, PA.

How do I become a successful dermatologist? ›

To be a successful dermatologist, you need to take a thorough and disciplined approach to your work and have strong observational skills. You also need a strong interest in medical science, as new technologies are constantly transforming how dermatologists assess, diagnose and treat.

What is the hardest part about being a dermatologist? ›

It was found that 24 percent of dermatologists stated dealing with difficult patients was the most challenging part of their job.
CharacteristicShare of dermatologists
Having to work with an EHR system16%
Worrying about being sued5%
Having to work long hours4%
4 more rows
Mar 2, 2022

What is the lowest salary for a dermatologist? ›

How Much Do Dermatologist Jobs Pay per Year? $277,500 is the 25th percentile. Salaries below this are outliers. $400,000 is the 90th percentile.

Is dermatology a stressful job? ›

Low-stress environment

Few skin conditions are life-threatening, and dermatologists rarely have to perform high-stakes procedures. This can lead to a more positive everyday work experience and lower stress levels than other medical professions.

Why does dermatology pay so well? ›

skin conditions, or physiologic process going on, but for the most part a lot of the patients will have a procedure done even if it is just a simple skin biopsy. This means that there is a lot of procedural revenue for dermatologists, and this is one of the biggest reasons they make so much money.

What is the average dermatologist age? ›

The average age of an employed dermatologist is 48 years old. The most common ethnicity of dermatologists is White (61.6%), followed by Asian (18.4%), Hispanic or Latino (10.0%) and Black or African American (5.3%).
Dermatologist Gender By Year.
10 more rows
Sep 9, 2022

Are dermatologist happy with their career? ›

Most interestingly, our level of happiness as a specialty (based on 2021 data) is consistently in the Top 5 of specialties. Marriages for dermatologists are within one percent of the happiest (90 percent) and, as always, much higher than plastic surgeons, who round out the bottom at 75 percent.

What are the disadvantages of being a dermatologist? ›

The pros of being a dermatologist include very high salaries and relatively low stress, while the cons include years of preparatory training and often repetitive work.

Is dermatology school hard? ›

It is very difficult to become a dermatologist. Dermatology is one of the most competitive medical specialties to match into. It is one of the top five specialties for physician happiness and compensation. It also offers a great variety to patients of all ages seeking medical, surgical, and cosmetic treatments.

Is a dermatologist worth it? ›

A dermatologist can give you a more tailored and effective treatment regimen. There are also certain skin conditions that resemble acne, but aren't actually acne. So, you could be treating the skin issue incorrectly. A dermatologist will help with scarring from acne and any persistent acne that won't go away.

What type of person is best suited to be a dermatologist? ›

Empathy, respect, cultural competence, compassion and curiosity are all important traits that should be possessed by a dermatologist.

How many hours do dermatologists work a day? ›

What is a day in the life of a dermatologist? Dermatologists typically work around eight to ten hours per day. They may start their day reviewing patient files or going over their schedule for the day.

Is dermatology a boring specialty? ›

"Dermatology never gets boring. There's always room for growth and learning new procedures, and you don't have to decide between medical or surgical. You can do both in dermatology because it's a little bit of everything." Williams adds that relationships play a big part in her career satisfaction.

What college has the best dermatology program? ›

1 (1)Harvard University *USA
2 (2)Harvard Medical SchoolUSA
3 (3)University of Pennsylvania *USA
4 (5)Northwestern University, Evanston *USA
5 (6)University of California, San Francisco *USA
127 more rows

What is the highest paid Dr? ›

What is the best paying job in medical specialties and fields? Anesthesiologists are among some of the highest earners in the medical field. According to the BLS, these professionals earned an average income of $331,190 in May 2021. However, earning potential may vary by state.

Is dermatology a good career for girl? ›

Dermatology can be the best career option for women. To be a dermatologist in India you should have an MBBS degree and do a specialization in Dermatology with an MD degree. Dermatology has been one of the best career options for quite some time now.

Why is dermatology the hardest to get into? ›

One major reason is that there simply aren't enough dermatologists available. A cap on medical residency training, an increase in demand for new treatments, and awareness of skin diseases also cause a shortage in available dermatologists. This is true in New York and throughout the United States.

Is dermatology good for future? ›

Consequently with people of all ages and professional backgrounds anxious to look good, dermatology has transformed into a lucrative career option. Dermatology is a branch of medicine which involves medical and surgical interventions.

Do dermatologists make 6 figures? ›

How much does a Dermatologist make in California? The average Dermatologist salary in California is $414,900 as of February 27, 2023, but the range typically falls between $356,300 and $484,100.

What are the odds of becoming a dermatologist? ›

Overall Competitiveness of Dermatology Residency and Chances of Matching. The overall competitiveness level of dermatology is High for a U.S. senior. With a Step 1 score of 200, the probability of matching is 47%. With a Step 1 score of >240, the probability is 75%.

Why is dermatology residency so hard? ›

Dermatology also offers great variety, with patients of all ages seeking help for medical, surgical and cosmetic treatments. For these reasons and many more, dermatology is one of the most difficult specialties to match into. Audition rotations are a crucial part of the application cycle.

At what age do dermatologists retire? ›

Meanwhile, plastic surgeons' average retirement age climbed from 63 to 66.4 years, versus 66.4 to 70.6 for internists (2001 to 2010). For dermatologists, average retirement age increased from 61 years in 2007 to 65.5 in 2009.

What state has the most dermatologists? ›

Our research found that North Dakota is the best state for dermatologists, while North Dakota and Minnesota are ranked highest in terms of median salary.
1. North Dakota.
Total Dermatologist Jobs:7
Highest 10 Percent Earn:$293,000
3 more rows
Apr 6, 2021

Should a 14 year old go to a dermatologist? ›

The Right Time for Your Child's First Dermatology Visit

We recommend parents bring their children to their first dermatologist screening between the ages of 12-15. In these early teenage years, kids are starting to battle acne, making it a prime opportunity for an initial skin screening.

What is a typical day as a dermatologist? ›

The average workday of a dermatologist is about eight to ten hours and can mean seeing up to 50 patients per day. On a typical day, a clinical dermatologist will get to the office about 1 hour before patients arrive and attend didactics. Dermatologists will see patients basically non-stop from about 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

What are some fun facts about dermatology? ›

A single square inch of skin has about 19 million cells and up to 300 sweat glands. Your skin is its thickest on your feet (1.4mm) and thinnest on your eyelids (0.2mm). The skin renews itself every 28 days. Your skin constantly sheds dead cells, about 30,000 to 40,000 cells every minute!

Why does everyone want to be a dermatologist? ›

As a dermatologist you are able to have an immediate impact on patients' lives, restoring their confidence and capabilities. As a dermatologist you treat patients from infants to the elderly, offering a chance to build a lifelong connection with patients and families.

Who is the most famous dermatologist in the world? ›

The World's Best Dermatologists by Chic Icon
  • Dr. Zein E. Obagi. ...
  • Dr. Barbara Sturm. Dr. ...
  • Dr. Harold Lancer. Dr. ...
  • Professor Augustinus Bader. German professor Augustinus Bader is a world-renowned scientist and biomedical doctor and one of the leading experts in the field of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine.
Mar 21, 2022

What is the most hardest doctor to become? ›

Apart from the top 5 specialties mentioned above, Interventional Radiology, Radiation Oncology, Vascular Surgery, General Surgery and Med/Peds are among the most difficult domains to become a doctor.

Does dermatology require a lot of math? ›

Take plenty of science and math courses.

While you won't earn a bachelor's degree in “pre-med” — this isn't an actual major — you should show your interest in the field by taking plenty of upper-level science and math courses in high school, such as AP courses in biology, physics, chemistry, calculus, and statistics.

Is dermatology residency easy? ›

Some people have the idea of dermatology residency being an easy residency that you can just cruise through. While it is true that dermatology is very lifestyle friendly (like all weekends off), it is also very demanding and fast paced.

What is it like going to a dermatologist? ›

You'll be asked about your medical and surgical history, medications, health problems, etc. To your dermatologist, the answers are all relevant, even issues that aren't directly related to your skin. “If it's your first visit, your dermatologist will most likely do a full body exam,” Dr. Kaporis said.

What is the highest degree in dermatology? ›

All dermatologists are board-certified physicians who have earned doctoral degrees in medicine. After earning board certification through the American Board of Dermatology, some dermatologists opt to further their medical training and specialize in a specific area of the discipline.

What is the most highest paying doctor specialty? ›

What is the best paying job in medical specialties and fields? Anesthesiologists are among some of the highest earners in the medical field. According to the BLS, these professionals earned an average income of $331,190 in May 2021. However, earning potential may vary by state.

What's higher than a dermatologist? ›

A dermatopathologist is a highly trained physician who specializes in diagnosing disorders of the skin under a microscope. They are a dermatologist or pathologist with extra board certification in evaluating skin, hair and nail diseases.

What is the best college for dermatology? ›

Harvard University

Is dermatology a hard field? ›

It is very difficult to become a dermatologist. Dermatology is one of the most competitive medical specialties to match into. It is one of the top five specialties for physician happiness and compensation. It also offers a great variety to patients of all ages seeking medical, surgical, and cosmetic treatments.

What is the lowest paid doctor? ›

It should be noted that pediatricians have the lowest annual salary out of any specialty on our list; however, they also work fewer hours than most specialties. The biggest draw for pediatrics is that you get to work with children and adolescents.

What are the top 5 highest paid doctors? ›

Top 19 high-paying doctor jobs
  • Surgeon.
  • Dermatologist.
  • Orthopedist.
  • Urologist.
  • Neurologist.
  • Orthodontist.
  • Anesthesiologist.
  • Cardiology physician.
5 days ago

Who is the highest paid doctor in America? ›

James Andrews. In the United States, some medical doctors are paid more than most CEOs. Shockingly, the highest-paid doctor in the US is James Andrews. Andrews is a sports medicine specialist, and he has an annual income of $6.9 million.

Is dermatology the most competitive? ›

Dermatology is one of the most competitive medical specialties to match into, and for good reason.

Is MD or do better for dermatology? ›

Primary Differences between DOs & MDs

DO physicians tend to be primary care physicians, whereas U.S.M.D.'s tend to specialize in more specific types of medicine (Dermatology, Cardiology, Orthopedics, etc.)

How many years does it take to be a dermatologist? ›

The first 6 years are spent on theoretical training to obtain a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery and the other four years in post-grad studies to obtain a Master of Medicine in Dermatology degree.

What is the easiest medical job that pays well? ›

Well-paying medical jobs that require limited schooling
  1. Veterinary technician. National average salary: $34,548 per year. ...
  2. Dietary technician. ...
  3. Pharmacy technician. ...
  4. Phlebotomy technician. ...
  5. Cardiovascular technician. ...
  6. Medical assistant. ...
  7. Ophthalmic technician. ...
  8. Emergency medical technician (EMT)
5 days ago

What is the highest paying job not in the medical field? ›

Chief executive officer. Primary duties: A chief executive officer (CEO) manages an organization and makes major corporate decisions.

What job makes the most money per hour? ›

Highest-Paying Careers
RankOccupation2021 Median Wages
Employment column one Hourly
7 more rows


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