How to Become a Dermatologist

Dermatologists are physicians that treat the skin and skin diseases. In order to become a dermatologist, you will need to complete a four year undergraduate degree, complete medical school and complete a specialized training in dermatology.


To become a dermatologist, you will need to complete a four year undergraduate degree, usually in science, though some medical schools will also admit liberal arts students who have completed the required science prerequisites for admission to their program.

Once you are admitted to and have completed medical school, an additional three years of training is required. You will complete a five year residency in a dermatology residency program, which usually includes one year of surgical training. At this time you will take and pass your American Board of Dermatology Examinations. Once you select a sub-specialty, you will need additional training in that area as well.

As a dermatologist, you may be able to move to different states to practice, but check with the state licensing board to make sure that you can practice in the state with your current training and credentials.

Tips and Advice

If you are currently in college, you will need to complete the requirements for admission to medical school, usually courses in the sciences, such as biology, biochemistry, chemistry, physics and mathematics. It will also be helpful to take courses in physiology and pharmacology if they are available or can be included in your schedule. Since admission to medical school is highly competitive, it is a good idea to select a school that has a good science program, or pre-med program, and to put as much effort as you can into maintaining a competitive grade point average.

While in college, look for opportunities to work in healthcare, either part-time or during the summer months. Though specialized training is sometimes required, you can also look for positions where they will train you in the workplace, such as medical receptionist or customer service positions. These experiences are good exposure to the health care industry, as well as to the work environment of physicians, and these experiences can be referred to when you write your essay or personal statement for applying to medical school.

If you plan to specialize in pediatric dermatology, look for opportunities to work with children and adolescents. Summer camps, including science camps and camps for children and teens that are affected by different disorders and diseases, even dermatological conditions, are viable options for summer work.

Apply to medical school at the end of your third year of college and spend as much time as you can to pass the MCAT for admission to medical school. You can also take preparation courses, usually available through your college career center, for the medical school admissions interview. Since admission to medical school is highly competitive, you should take advantage of all of the preparation resources that are available to you, or that you can afford.

Job Opportunities

Dermatologists can specialize in different areas, such as cosmetic dermatology, dermatolopathology and pediatric dermatology.

  • A cosmetic dermatologist will perform cosmetic surgeries, such as liposuction or laser surgeries.
  • A dermatopathologist treats skin diseases, conducts and analyses the results of biopsies.
  • A pediatric dermatologist specializes in the treatment of skin issues and diseases that affect children and adolescents.