How to become a dermatologist

Becoming a dermatologist means becoming a skin doctor. It is a long journey that starts with finishing secondary school with good grades in science. Dermatology is a path that requires dedication, extensive education and a passion for the field.

If you consider pursuing a career in dermatology, your job will be to specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of skin, hair and nail conditions. In the UK, the expertise of dermatologists is in high demand. This demand stems from several factors including the increasing prevalence of skin-related issues.

The UK’s diverse population presents dermatologists with various skin types and conditions that require specialised care and attention. Dermatologists are also sought after for cosmetic procedures like laser treatments and Botox injections.

Average Salary

Average Salary

£30,000 to £126,000


Qualification Level


Weekly Hours

Weekly Hours

40 to 50 hours

What does a dermatologist do?

A dermatologist is a doctor who specialises in diagnosing and treating disorders related to the skin, hair, nails and mucous membranes. Their expertise cover a wide range of conditions like eczema, acne, psoriasis, drug rashes and skin cancer. Dermatologists are highly trained healthcare professionals who play a crucial role in maintaining the health and appearance of the largest organ, the skin.

Becoming a dermatologist in the UK is a challenging and rewarding career. One of the primary responsibilities of a dermatologist is to diagnose skin conditions accurately. This involves conducting thorough examinations, taking patient histories and sometimes performing diagnostic tests such as biopsies and skin scrapings. By carefully assessing a patient’s skin, a dermatologist can identify the underlying causes of various issues and develop appropriate treatment plans.

The treatment options provided by dermatologists can vary widely depending on the condition. For common problems, they can prescribe oral or topical medications. They can also offer guidance to their patients on skincare routines.

Dermatologists are also skilled in performing minor surgical procedures and skin surgery. This includes removing moles, warts and cysts. They can administer cosmetic treatments such as dermal fillers, laser therapies and Botox injections to address issues related to ageing and aesthetics.

Another essential aspect of a dermatologist’s role is the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer. Early detection of skin cancer is critical for successful outcomes and dermatologists are well-trained in recognising suspicious lesions and moles. Where needed, they coordinate with other professionals such as oncologists for further treatment.

Dermatologists also provide patients with information on proper skincare and sun protection which helps prevent future skin issues. They advise patients about lifestyle changes and recommend products that are suitable for their skin health.

In a nutshell, these are some of the main roles and responsibilities of those professionals who specialise in dermatology:

  • Accurately diagnose skin conditions
  • Conduct thorough examinations
  • Review medical histories of patients
  • Use diagnostic tests like skin biopsies to determine the root causes of skin issues
  • Address a diverse range of skin conditions
  • Address complex problems like genetic disorders and autoimmune diseases
  • Develop treatment plans based on the diagnosis
  • Perform minor surgical procedures such as removal of warts, skin tags, cysts and moles
  • Perform cosmetic procedures to address ageing issues
  • Carry out skin cancer screening to detect early signs of skin cancer
  • Monitor treatments and conduct follow-up appointments
  • Provide guidance on skin protection and care
  • Collaborate with other medical experts for cancer treatments and reconstructive procedures.

What qualifications do I need to become a dermatologist in the UK

It is important to note that the path to becoming a dermatologist in the UK is highly competitive. Candidates often need exceptional academic records and dedication to succeed. Additionally, professional development and continuing medical education are essential for staying up to date with the latest advancements in the field.

If you want to become a dermatologist, you must first attend a medical school.

These are the steps that must be pursued:

  • Five-year undergraduate degree in medicine or a four-year postgraduate degree
  • Two-year foundation programme
  • Speciality training that can last six or seven years
  • Apply for a dermatology job

You must have a strong academic background with outstanding GSCE results including three A or A* grades at the A level. Also, note that chemistry is a prerequisite for applying to a 5-year undergraduate medical programme such as MBBS or MBChB. If you already hold a bachelor’s degree, you can consider pursuing a 4-year postgraduate medical degree.

Once you have your medical degree (either undergraduate or postgraduate), you will need to undertake a two-year foundation programme which will help you gain practical and hands-on experience through placements in six different settings. You will get paid while you work through this programme.

After you have completed your foundation programme, you can undertake speciality training in the UK. This will take at least six years after which you will become a trained dermatologist.

Training to become a dermatologist involves completing the Specialty Certificate Examination which is also known as SCE. This assessment component is mandatory for obtaining CCT or Certificate of Completion of Training. With this certification, you can get registered with the GMC. Once this is done, you can apply for a dermatology job or become a consultant dermatologist.

What skills do I need to begin a career as a dermatologist

Becoming a dermatology doctor requires a unique set of skills. These encompass both medical expertise and interpersonal skills. The skills that you possess as a dermatologist are essential for diagnosing and treating a wide range of medical conditions. Your skills will help you provide care guidance to your patients which will help them maintain healthy skin. Here’s what you need:

  • In-depth knowledge and understanding of skin, hair, nails and mucous membrane conditions.
  • Excellent communication skills to be able to communicate with patients effectively and understand their concerns.
  • Ability to diagnose and treat skin conditions effectively.
  • Attention to detail.
  • Ability to empathise with patients’ emotional and physical needs.
  • Proficiency in performing minor surgical procedures.
  • Analytical and problem-solving skills to address complex dermatological conditions.
  • Commitment to learn with advancements in technology
  • Teamwork
  • Adaptability

How much can I earn as a dermatologist in the UK?

In the UK, the earning potential of a dermatologist can vary depending on factors such as location, experience and the type of practice. On average, entry-level dermatologists can expect to earn a salary in the range of £30,000 to £40,000 per year. With several years of experience and practice, they can significantly increase their annual income.

Some very experienced dermatologists earn six-figure salaries. Those who join the NHS for their speciality training earn a minimum of £43,000 per year. The salaries of consultants go as high as £126,000.

Possible career progression in the dermatology field

A dermatologist’s career progression typically follows a well-defined path that offers opportunities for advancement and specialisation. After completing medical school and specialty training, they can start as junior doctors, gaining experience and expertise in the field.

With years of practice, they can advance to become consultants in hospitals or private clinics. Some dermatologists choose to pursue subspecialties such as paediatric dermatology, which can lead to more specialised roles. Additionally, experienced dermatologists often become educators, researchers and department heads.

A dermatologist’s career path can be diverse, allowing for growth, specialisation and the potential to make significant contributions to the field.

What are the working hours of a dermatologist?

When it comes to the working hours of a dermatologist, it can vary based on several factors. These include their employment setting, level of experience and individual preferences. The standard working hours for full-time positions is 40-50 hours a week.

Dermatologists working in private practice may have more control over their schedules. They can choose to work fewer or more extended hours based on patient demand and personal preferences. However, those in the public healthcare settings such as clinics and hospitals may have standard hours.

Many dermatologists are also required to be on-call, especially when they work in hospitals. They may have to make themselves available for urgent procedures and consultations during evenings, weekends or holidays.

Those dermatologists who are involved in research may have flexible schedules. This enables them to balance their clinical work with teaching, projects and other academic commitments. Part-time opportunities are also possible for dermatologists who wish to reduce their working hours.

The working hours of dermatologists can also evolve over the course of their careers. Beginners may work longer hours to gain experience and build their patient base. On the other hand, more experienced dermatologists may choose to reduce their clinical workload and work fewer hours.

What kind of environment does a dermatologist work in?

The working environment of a dermatologist in the UK typically includes a variety of settings. It mostly depends on their specialisation and practice. Many professional dermatologists split their time between hospitals, clinics and academic institutions.

In a clinical setting, dermatologists see patients for consultations and treatments related to various skin, hair and nail conditions. They work in well-equipped examination rooms containing specialised equipment for diagnosis and minor procedures like biopsies. The environment in which they work is generally clean, comfortable and patient-centered. It has a welcoming atmosphere for individuals seeking dermatological care.

For those working in hospitals, the environment may involve a combination of outpatient clinics, inpatient rounds and surgical suites. In these settings, dermatologists are able to collaborate with other medical professionals and surgeons to provide comprehensive care for patients.

Dermatologists who work in research facilities have access to well-equipped laboratories. Their working environment enables them to conduct studies and offer dermatology training to medical students. Overall, the working environment is dynamic which offers dermatologists the opportunity to engage with patients.

What are some of the main benefits of being a consultant dermatologist?

Becoming a consultant dermatologist in the UK is a prestigious achievement. It offers a multitude of rewards and benefits, including:

  • Competitive salaries and the potential for significant income.
  • Stable and secure career.
  • The opportunity to specialise further such as paediatric dermatology.
  • Academic opportunities.
  • Diverse work settings such as clinics, hospitals and academic institutions.
  • The opportunity to make a significant difference in the lives of patients suffering from skin issues.
  • Opportunities for professional growth.
  • Opportunities for contributing to the development of new treatments and therapies in the dermatology field.

"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life"