Dermatologist Assistant: Job Description & Salary

A dermatologist assistant works with a supervising dermatologist to provide medical care. Read more about this career and discover whether it is the right one for you. Schools offering Esthetics degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information at a Glance

Dermatologist assistants work under the supervision of dermatologists to examine, diagnose, and treat patients in areas related to skin health. They work in teams with other healthcare providers.

Recommended Degree Master's degree from an accredited physician assistant program
Education Field of Study Biology, chemistry, public health, nursing, other medical-related field
Key Skills Listening, speaking, critical thinking, problem-solving, compassion
Certification/License Required by all states
Job Growth (2018-2028) 31% (physician assistants)*
Median Salary (2019) $96,829**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **

What Does a Dermatologist Assistant Do?

A dermatologist assistant works directly with patients in hospitals, clinics, and physician offices under the supervision of a dermatologist. They focus on skin, hair, and nail conditions, including surgery and cosmetics. Duties include taking medical histories, performing medical exams, ordering diagnostic tests, interpreting results, and developing treatment plans. Dermatologist assistants educate patients on skin health and provide preventive services, such as skin cancer screenings. They work closely in collaboration with a supervising physician as required by law. Depending on the specific job, dermatologist assistants can work weekends or evenings, and may need to be on call.

What are the Education Requirements?

Dermatologist assistants must have a master's degree from an accredited physician assistant program. These programs are very competitive. Applicants to the program typically need a bachelor's degree with coursework in biology, chemistry, anatomy, and physiology. Many programs also require several years of healthcare experience.

The physician assistant program lasts about three years and includes a mix of coursework and clinical rotations. Courses include topics such as pharmacology, physical diagnosis, microbiology, anatomy, and behavioral science. Students complete about 2,000 hours of clinical fieldwork in several rotations, including emergency medicine, internal medicine, and surgery.

Is a License Required?

All states require dermatologist assistants to become licensed before they can work with patients. Prospective dermatologist assistants must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). Those who pass can use the designation Physician Assistant-Certified and can apply for their state license. Certification requires 100 hours of continuing education every two years and a recertification exam every 10 years.

What Other Skills are Needed?

A successful dermatologist assistant has strong communication skills to explain complex health issues to their patients. They are detail-oriented, analytical, and observant so they can evaluate and treat a range of skincare issues. Dermatologist assistants must have compassion and understanding when dealing with ill patients and their families. They need to work well under pressure and in stressful situations.

What is the Salary and Job Outlook?

As of 2019, the median salary of a dermatologist assistant was $96,829, with a range of $74,000 to $138,000, notes The job outlook for physician assistants, including dermatologist assistants, is expected to grow by about 31% over the next decade. This is a much faster than average rate for all jobs. As the population ages and the demand for healthcare grows, the number of dermatologist assistants will increase to meet this need. This will provide more people with access to care, including preventive services. Dermatologist assistants can perform many similar services to dermatologists and play a role in a patient's medical team.

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