Dermatology Vs. Dentistry: What’s The Better Career?

Dermatology and dentistry are important positions in the medical world. These two careers are not too far from each other regarding their main focus and overall stressors. However, dermatology is possibly the wider career option. But with an increased variety often comes more stress – especially in terms of education and training.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at both careers, and compare and contrast them based on training, pay, and career projection.

If you’re on the fence between both careers, perhaps this article can help!

Dermatology Vs Dentistry: Which is the Better Career Choice?

Dermatology is a great career path to pursue in terms of pay, job scope, and satisfaction but dentistry involves shorter training while being just as financially (and personally) rewarding. Which one’s better depends on your personal interest. Being a dentist you’ll be restricted to oral health, with dermatology you’ll deal with a broader range of diseases and procedures.

Before deciding on either, it’s probably best to take a look at the type of lifestyle you wish to live and how much training and time you’re prepared to dedicate to get there.

But you’ll also want to consider the typical schedules and day-to-day responsibilities of either career to truly decide which one’s right for you.

For that reason, we recommend shadowing in both areas (or at least undertaking more in-depth research).

Career Projection

Survey data shows that the demand for dentists will increase 18% between 2022 and 2026, compared to dermatology’s 10% to 14%

Although that’s not too much of a difference, dentistry seems to have a healthier job projection overall.

One thing to think about however is specialization. As dermatology is a branch of medicine, it’s sensible to factor in the projected demand for general doctors as an even comparison.

However, dentistry also wins out here too – being in more projected demand on average than physicians.

Younger people thinking about prerequisites at college may want to take stock of these figures. Especially as the job markets they’ll graduate into, especially with lengthy healthcare-related training programs, may look a lot different than they do today.

Earning Potential

According to US News, the median salary of a dentist is $158,940 across the US. Dermatologists have a median salary of $208,000.

An important thing to consider in any comparison is that pay depends on the location (differing across states) and can vary widely based on factors like work hours, private practice, other revenue streams beyond direct care, etc.

While pay in dermatology may be better on average, the road to getting there is longer. Dentists can typically maximize their earnings faster than dermatologists.

This is mainly because of shorter training routes (more on this later).

Overview of Dermatology Education – 12 Years

Dermatology is a specific area of the medical field that focuses on conditions and ailments that affect the skin. This area of medicine also includes anything that may affect your hair, nails, and the delicate skin of your nose, mouth, and eyelids. 

While a general practitioner can also diagnose skin conditions, a dermatologist has a greater and deeper knowledge of the skin. The dermatologist’s scope is divided into 3 categories: cosmetic, medical, and surgery


The education and training to qualify for a dermatology career can take a minimum of 12 years or longer. That’s a lot of sacrifice and dedication. 

If you already have your high school education or General Equivalency Diploma (GED), this is the education path to start your career in dermatology:

  1. Apply to a medical university and complete the prerequisite courses needed 

Most medical schools need the following courses; anatomy, biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and English (with a grade of B or higher). With good grades, you should have other experiences like shadowing, leadership, research, and volunteering. 

  1. MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test)

The MCAT is an 8-hour, computer-based exam. It is required for admission into the majority of US medical schools. The MCAT is very difficult, and you need to study extensively for it. The exam is designed to filter for the best candidates.

  1. Get accepted and attend school 

You can start attending your classes when you meet all the admission requirements. During medical school, you will have to pass two national board examinations. Your final year will be focused on applying for competitive dermatology residency program positions. 

  1. Internship and residency 

When you complete medical school, you receive a limited license to see patients under supervision. For the next several years (typically 3-4) you’ll complete a dermatology residency. This involves completing between 2000-16,000 hours of hands-on dermatology practice.

Related: Best Dermatology Residency Programs (Key Info & Data)

  1. Board Certification

Board certification in dermatology is necessary for you to practice privately or independently.

After this, you can do fellowship training. This is optional and not necessary to find a job. Dermatologists can specialize in various sub-categories of dermatology.

Overview of Dental Education – 8 Years

Dentistry involves diagnosing and treating conditions dealing with the teeth and gums. Dentists promote oral hygiene and monitor the jaws, teeth, and mouth for any problems. They are trained to read and interpret x-rays, give anesthetics and undertake procedures such as extractions and tooth fillings. 

They’re also trained to do certain surgical procedures on soft tissues, bones, and teeth to promote dental health. 


Becoming a dentist is more straightforward than becoming a dermatologist and usually takes about 8 years to complete. 

Here are the steps when getting an education and training in dentistry:

  1. Apply to dental school and complete coursework

To become a dentist, you are not required to do a pre-dentistry bachelor’s degree. However, It would help if you have biochemistry, physiology, and physical chemistry in your coursework to meet admission requirements.

Note that these are the similar/same prerequisites for medicine and most allied health careers. This means that completing these subjects in college can keep your career options open (physician, dentist, pharmacist, etc.) for those undecided.

  1. Pass the dental admission test

The dental admission test (DAT) is the test taken to be accepted into the majority of dental schools. The test assesses academic and scientific knowledge and is the biggest admission factor for dental school. The DAT is scored from one to thirty, and you must score a minimum of 17 to pass. 

  1. Complete your dental school training

Dental school will take four years to complete with full-time attendance. You can earn a Dental Medicine (DMD) or Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree. Your first two years are academic, and the following two years are clinical, meaning you will see patients under supervision. 

  1. Get your license

Once graduated you’ll need to pass the National Board of Dental Examinations. However, it’s important to check state requirements for the location you plan on working in – they can differ across the US.

  1. Specialization

Certified dentists can work in general practice or undergo further education to specialize in the following areas:

  • Dental public health
  • Pediatric dentistry
  • Periodontics
  • Prosthodontics
  • Endodontics
  • Orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics
  • Oral and maxillofacial radiology
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgery
  • Oral and maxillofacial pathology

A specialty requires another two to four years of education and may require a residency of up to two years before becoming licensed.

Dermatology Vs Dentistry: Which Career is Most Stressful?

In conclusion, both dermatology and dentistry can be stressful. Deciding on either path and having the ability to cope, comes down to what you’re able to handle and the degree of sacrifice you’re willing to make.

Choosing either career will typically involve:

  1. Being academically competitive
  2. Having superb extracurriculars
  3. Strong self-discipline

You’ll also need to factor in the time expense involved to match the first two criteria and the cost involved for a tuition-heavy educational road.

Dermatology is one of the most competitive medical areas to get into. It takes about 12 years to study and specialize in dermatology and is a much longer road to maximizing your earning potential than dentistry.

Dentistry, on the other hand, is also super competitive. Both in educational admissions and in employment opportunities.

There’s no clear winner when it comes to either career. Both can be fantastic career choices for the right individuals.

Choosing depends on what you value most.

Related Articles