Dermatology Nurse Career Overview

NurseJournal Staff
Updated November 28, 2022
    Learn about how to become a dermatology nurse, what they do, and typical dermatology nurse salary expectations.
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    Senior patient speaking with dermatology nurseCredit: SDI Productions / E+ / Getty Images

    how long to become

    job outlook

    job outlook7% job growth between 2019 and 2029For All Registered Nurses

    average earning potential

    average earning potential$80,860SOURCE: ZipRecruiter

    Dermatology Nurse Career in Brief

    adn or bsn required
    certification optional

    A dermatology nurse works as part of a dermatology team. They perform patient intake, provide patient education on skincare and skin cancer prevention, and complete nursing tasks, like removing stitches after a procedure. Their work is very similar to a cosmetic nurse with many skills overlapping.

    Key dermatology nurse responsibilities include:

    Key Responsibilities

    • Screening patients for skin cancer
    • Collecting skin tissue for biopsies
    • Cleaning and dressing wounds or burns
    • Educating patients on skincare and preventing postsurgical infection
    • Applying skin peels and microdermabrasion

    Career Traits

    • Communication
    • Teamwork
    • Empathy
    • Attention to detail

    Credit: Cravetiger / Moment / Getty Images

    Certification Option

    • Dermatology Nurse Certified and Dermatology Certified Nurse Practitioner
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    Where Do Dermatology Nurses Work?

    Most dermatology nurses work in private offices, mainly dermatology or plastic surgeon practices. They can also work in hospital dermatology or burn units.

    1. 1

      Private Offices

      Dermatology nurses do patient intake, educate on preventative measures, assist dermatologists during procedures, and provide care for patients after procedures.

    2. 2

      Burn Units in Hospitals

      Dermatology nurses help clean burns and prevent infection, administer treatment under a physician’s or nurse practitioner’s direction, and educate patients and families on care.

    3. 3

      Plastic Surgeons’ Offices

      Dermatology nurses assist plastic surgeons during procedures, inform patients on post-treatment skincare, remove stitches, and follow up on patient care.

    Why Become a Dermatology Nurse?

    A dermatology nurse can help improve a patient’s well-being by providing nursing care for patients with skin conditions. Also, some work settings can offer a more predictable work schedule than other nursing careers. See below for more pros and cons of becoming a dermatology nurse.

    Advantages to Becoming a Dermatology Nurse

    • check-circleDermatology conditions can strongly affect a patient’s self-esteem and life, so dermatology nurses can make a difference in patients’ lives.
    • check-circleThere’s less likelihood of losing a patient, except in severe cases.
    • check-circleDermatology nurses work consistent daytime hours in most private practices and dermatology departments.
    • check-circleDermatology nurses typically experience fewer emergencies depending on the work setting.

    Disadvantages to Becoming a Dermatology Nurse

    • x-circleBurn units or plastic surgery departments can be more stressful than other work environments.
    • x-circleNurses looking for a high-adrenaline workplace won’t find it in most dermatology nurse positions.
    • x-circleSome dermatology patients hold unrealistic expectations that can make patient education challenging.
    • x-circleThere are fewer opportunities to perform life-saving measures (except for patients with skin cancer or severe burns).

    How to Become a Dermatology Nurse

    Dermatology nurses must first become a registered nurse (RN), and then gain experience in a dermatology setting. While certification isn’t legally required to practice as a dermatology nurse, many employers prefer or require it.

    Earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN)

    Attend an accredited ADN or BSN program. While an ADN takes two years and a BSN takes four years to complete, many employers prefer candidates with a BSN.

    Pass the NCLEX-RN to receive an RN license

    Pass the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN) and submit a nursing license application to the state board of nursing. Check with the state board of nursing for other requirements, which vary by state. Certain criminal convictions may prevent an aspiring RN from becoming licensed.

    Gain dermatology experience

    RNs can gain experience as a dermatology nurse in a variety of settings, such as a general medical or surgical inpatient unit, dermatology practice, or other specialty setting.

    Consider a dermatology nurse certification

    While not legally required, dermatology nurse certification demonstrates professional expertise and commitment to professional development. To take the certification examination, RNs must have at least two years of dermatology nursing experience and 2,000 hours of dermatology practice within the previous two years.

    How Much Do Dermatology Nurses Make?

    According to ZipRecruiter July 2021 figures, the average dermatology nurse salary of $80,860 is higher than the median nurse salary of $75,330. RNs, including dermatology nurses, are in demand everywhere, with a 7% growth rate over the next decade as per BLS data. As the population ages and skin cancer becomes more common among older adults, dermatology nurses remain in demand.

    As with other nursing jobs, dermatology nurse salaries are highest in areas with a greater cost of living and demand. The top-paying states for dermatology nurses include California, Alaska, and Washington. Among the top-paying cities, seven are in California, according to ZipRecruiter.

    Nurses interested in a higher income might consider becoming a dermatology nurse practitioner, as ZipRecruiter reports they earn an average $100,560 annually as of July 2021.

    Learn More About Dermatology Nurse Salaries

    Frequently Asked Questions About Dermatology Nurses

    What does a dermatologist nurse do?

    A dermatology nurse provides care for patients in dermatology or cosmetic surgery offices or departments, burn units, and other dermatology settings. Most work in private outpatient settings, while others work in hospital inpatient (for example, burn units or injury care) or outpatient departments.

    How do I become a certified dermatology nurse?

    A certified dermatology nurse needs an RN license and at least two years of experience and 2,000 hours working in dermatology. They must also submit an application and pass the board examination, which has 175 multiple-choice questions.

    What is it like to be a dermatology nurse?

    Most dermatology nurses work predictable daytime hours, with occasional evening and weekend requirements. There are relatively few dermatology emergencies in private practices, and being an outpatient dermatology nurse can offer a less stressful working environment than most other nursing positions.

    How much do cosmetic nurses earn?

    Cosmetic nurses can earn an average of $89,980 annually, according to ZipRecruiter as of July 2021. The highest-paying jobs for cosmetic nurses are in California, Alaska, and Virginia. Since much of the daily tasks overlap, transitioning to a cosmetic nurse position from work as a dermatology nurse is relatively easy compared to other nursing specialties.

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