How to Become a Cosmetic Dermatologist: Schooling, Job Description & Salary

Explore the career requirements for a cosmetic dermatology role. Get the facts about job duties, education requirements, and median salary to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Esthetics degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information at a Glance

The main role of a cosmetic dermatologist is to assess and treat cosmetic skin conditions. In this role, a cosmetic dermatologist will usually administer procedures such as botox, laser surgery, liposuction and chemical peels. Medical procedures given by cosmetic dermatologists are usually for cosmetic or aesthetic reasons, rather than medical necessity. This role involves working directly with patients to determine the level of treatment needed to satisfy their needs and ensure desired results. Take a look at the table to see more information about this career.

Degree Required Doctor of Medicine
Training Internship and dermatology residency
Key Skills Compassion and communication skills; physical stamina; attention to detail; steady hands; patience
Licensure Medical license; optional board certification
Job Growth (2016-2026) 13% (for all physicians and surgeons)*
Median Salary (2019) $232,284**

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

What Is a Cosmetic Dermatologist?

A cosmetic dermatologist is a medical professional who specializes in skin procedures which are usually undertaken for cosmetic reasons. This includes liposuction, botox and collagen injections, along with anti-aging and acne treatments. Like other medical professionals, cosmetic dermatologists must take a patient's medical history and needs into account before recommending a personalized plan of treatment. They may also be required to counsel patients on the treatment they are undertaking and ensure that the patient is making the right decision for them.

Some cosmetic dermatologists perform other procedures within the wider dermatology field. For example, they may also treat diseases in the skin, hair and nails or diagnose and administer preventative treatments to patients who are at risk of disease.

What Salary Will I Earn?

Cosmetic dermatologists earned a median salary of $232,284 per year, according to This role is often full-time and travel between workplaces may be required in order to care for and meet all patients. A cosmetic dermatologist may work independently or alongside other medical professionals, usually in a clinical setting.

What Education Do I Need?

This role is a specialism which requires several different qualifications and levels of education. Potential dermatologists first need a bachelor's degree. Although this can be achieved in a range of subjects, most pre-medical students will study a field linked to medicine, for example biology, biomedical science, chemistry, physics or social sciences.

Once the applicant has a bachelor's degree, they can apply for medical school. This is usually a four-year program which results in an M.D. (Doctor of Medicine). The first two years are usually spent in the classroom or laboratory to develop an academic understanding of the field. During the last two years, students apply this knowledge through a rotation of placements in a range of medical specialties, such as pediatrics and surgery.

After gaining their M.D, medical students will begin to specialize in the field of dermatology during their residency. Residencies usually last between 3-7 years and, depending on what is available, some dermatologists can begin to specialize in cosmetics at this stage. Some dermatologists may then complete a fellowship in cosmetic dermatology and earn board certification as a cosmetic dermatologist.

What Personal Qualities Do I Need?

Cosmetic dermatology is a sensitive role which requires working closely with patients. A range of personal qualities is required to ensure that patients are comfortable and supported throughout the procedure. Compassion and empathy are important skills for the role. As with all medical professions, understanding that a patient may feel nervous or uncomfortable and being able to ease those feelings is something which will make the whole process easier for both the patient and the medical professional involved.

Cosmetic dermatologists are required to assess and administer appropriate treatments to help a wide range of patients feel their best, so problem-solving skills are essential in this role. Once the assessment process has taken place, a cosmetic dermatologist will also need good written and verbal communication skills to inform the patient, and possibly colleagues, of their assessment findings.

Attention to detail is also key as the role requires analyzing and diagnosing different conditions. A cosmetic dermatologist will be required to record and keep track of details relating to patient care.

What Are Similar Career Options?

There are a variety of roles within the field of medicine which may be of interest to those who are considering a career in cosmetic dermatology. These include becoming a dentist or optometrist.

The main role of a dentist is to diagnose and treat conditions relating to a patient's teeth, mouth, gums or other parts of the mouth. They ensure that each patient receives any necessary treatment and is aware of how to take care of their own oral hygiene. Dentists usually work in a clinical setting alongside other dentists, dental nurses and administrative staff.

Optometrists specialize in medical issues relating to a patient's eyes and other parts of vision. They may offer glasses or contact lenses to patients, alongside providing appropriate medical care for a range of eye conditions. Optometrists may also counsel patients on how taking care of their health can improve their eyesight.

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