How To Become A Dermatologist

Dreaming of a career where you can help people maintain healthy skin? If you’re intrigued by the science of skincare and the art of helping others look their best, becoming a dermatologist in the UK could be your perfect path. It’s a rewarding profession that combines medical knowledge with a touch of aesthetics. We’ll guide you through the steps on how to become a dermatologist in the UK, so you can start your journey towards this fulfilling career.

What Is A Dermatologist?

A dermatologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of skin, hair, and nail disorders. They deal with a wide range of conditions, from cosmetic issues like acne, eczema, and psoriasis to more serious diseases like melanoma and other skin cancers. Dermatologists are trained to perform various procedures, including skin biopsies, surgical excisions, cryotherapy, laser treatments, and cosmetic injections. They also provide guidance on skincare, sun protection, and managing chronic skin conditions.

What Does A Dermatologist Do?

Dermatologists are medical specialists who focus on diagnosing, treating, and preventing skin, hair, and nail disorders. Their work encompasses a wide range of activities, from diagnosing conditions like acne, eczema, psoriasis, and skin cancers, to providing medical and surgical treatments.

They prescribe treatment and prevention plans, medications, creams, and ointments, and perform procedures such as mole removal, skin biopsies, and cancer excision. In addition to treating medical conditions, dermatologists also offer cosmetic services.

These services include botox injections, dermal fillers, laser hair removal, and chemical peels, aimed at improving the appearance of the skin. A significant part of their role involves the treatment and management of skin cancer, including conducting surgeries to remove cancerous growths.

Dermatologists are also educators, teaching patients how to care for their skin, protect it from sun damage, and prevent skin cancer. They manage chronic skin diseases, providing continuous care to reduce flare-ups and complications.

Some dermatologists are involved in research, working to develop new treatments and understand the causes of skin diseases. Through these diverse roles, dermatologists play a crucial part in helping individuals maintain healthy and disease-free skin, hair, and nails

Advantages of Pursuing a Career in Dermatology

The field of dermatology remains a popular choice among medical graduates. The need for dermatologists in the UK is rising due to an ageing demographic and the growing incidence of skin cancer. Here are some benefits to consider:

  • Make a positive impact on patients’ lives
  • Availability of flexible and part-time work schedules
  • Potential for a high salary early in the career
  • Opportunity to practice globally
  • Attractive pension plans
  • Generous vacation allowances

Education Requirements to Become a Dermatologist in the UK

School Requirements for dermatologist

Becoming a dermatologist in the UK is a rigorous process that requires several years of education and training. Here’s a general overview of the steps involved:

Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree: The first step is to earn a Bachelor’s degree. Although a specific pre-medical undergraduate degree is not required, courses in biology, chemistry, and other sciences are most popular and can be beneficial.

Graduate from Medical School: After completing an undergraduate degree, you must attend medical school to earn a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS or BMBS), which typically takes five to six years. Some programs may allow students to enter directly from high school, combining undergraduate and medical education into a single extended program.

Complete Foundation Training: Upon graduating from medical school, you’ll enter a two-year Foundation Programme (Foundation Year 1 and Foundation Year 2, known as FY1 and FY2) plus one core training program. This period involves rotating through various medical specialties, including surgery, medicine (internal medicine/acute medicine), and potentially paediatric dermatology, to gain a broad medical experience.

Specialty Training in Dermatology: After successfully completing the Foundation Programme, you must undergo specialty training in dermatology. This involves applying for a dermatology training post in the National Health Service (NHS) and can take at least six years. The training covers clinical dermatology, dermatological surgery, and related areas. You’ll work under the supervision of experienced dermatologists, treating patients while learning the specialty.

Certification and Registration: After completing your specialty training, you’ll need to pass the Specialty Certificate Examination (SCE) in Dermatology. Upon passing this examination and successfully completing your training, you will be eligible to apply for registration with a license to practice and entry onto the Specialist Register of the General Medical Council (GMC) in the UK, officially recognizing you as a consultant dermatologist.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD): Even after becoming a consultant dermatologist, you will need to engage in ongoing learning and professional development to keep up with the latest advances in dermatological science and practice.

Obtaining a Master’s or MD in Dermatology in the UK can enhance your resume, yet these medical degree qualifications are not mandatory. They fall outside the specialty training program in the UK and do not culminate in being recognized as a Consultant Dermatologist.

How Long Does it Take to Become A Dermatologist?

This results in a total of approximately 13 to 15 years from the beginning of medical school to achieving consultant status in dermatology.

Skills and Characteristics Needed

When considering the dermatology field, beyond the necessary education and licensing, there are innate skills that can make the journey more seamless. Mastering these traits could be your key to delivering excellent patient care and enjoying a prospering career in dermatology.

Attention to Detail

To excel in the field of dermatology, having a keen eye for detail is non-negotiable. Often, the difference between benign and malignant skin lesions lies in the minutest variances in appearance.

Aspiring dermatologists learn early on in their practice to recognize these slight differences. Moreover, given the complex nature of skin conditions, the knack to take a detailed patient history, and the ability to piece together disparate aspects of a case become necessary skills.

Meticulously following medical protocols and ensuring that paperwork is correctly filled out is also essential. High levels of focus, dedication, and observational skills are equally paramount to mastering the art of dermatology.

Interpersonal Skills

Medical expertise is a huge part but remember not to discount the importance of interpersonal rapport. Displaying compassion, empathy, and understanding in each patient interaction can make a tremendous difference in the overall care provided.

Effective communication is a key facet of this. As you study and train to become a dermatologist, you’d learn how important it is to explain complex medical terms in layman’s language. It’s about perceptively breaking down the often complicated nature of diagnoses and treatments, ensuring patients feel informed and comfortable with the plan.

That apart, your work as a dermatologist would also involve handling emotional distress – be it a teenager battling widespread acne or an adult dealing with the shock of a melanoma diagnosis. Here, a nurturing, sensitive approach, coupled with strong counseling skills, can go a long way.

Employment Opportunities

The UK’s skin health industry is booming, and the demand for dermatologists appears to be on the rise as more people become conscious of their skin health. This trend not only signifies the increased need for patient care, but also the necessity for more medical professionals skilled in dermatology.

According to NHS England, there are over 800 registered dermatologists spread across the UK with an increasing demand in 2024. This demand is not only in the public sector but the private sector as well, which indicates robust opportunities for those willing to step into this profession.

Salary Range

How much can you potentially earn as a dermatologist in the UK? The salaries of dermatologists appear to paint a pretty attractive picture.

In London, a Dermatologist typically earns an annual salary of £238,699, or £115 per hour. The salary range for Dermatologists generally falls between £155,871 and £312,218.

If you venture into the competitive private sector, you stand a chance to earn significantly more. By specializing further, such as in cosmetic dermatology, you could further increase your earnings.


What’s the difference between an esthetician and a dermatologist?

An esthetician focuses on cosmetic treatments to enhance skin appearance, while a dermatologist is a medical doctor trained to diagnose and treat a range of skin conditions, including complex skin diseases.

Do dermatologists perform surgery?

Yes, dermatologists commonly carry out minor surgeries, like mole or wart removals and skin biopsies. Some specialize in more involved surgical procedures, including excising benign cysts and treating skin cancer.

Is pursuing a career in dermatology rewarding?

Becoming a dermatologist involves extensive training but can be very rewarding both financially and in terms of career satisfaction, offering opportunities to improve patient lives significantly. Post-training, options include private practice or academia.

Where in the UK can one study dermatology?

Institutions like Cardiff University, the University of Hertfordshire, Queen Mary University, and King’s College London are renowned for their clinical dermatology programs in the UK.