Dermatology Nurse Career Overview

by NurseJournal Staff
• 3 min read
Dermatology Nurse Career Overview

Dermatology nurses help people with skin conditions that can affect their quality of life, some of which can be life-threatening, such as severe acne, burns, and skin cancer. While not all skin conditions are severe, they can seriously impact a patient.

Because dermatology nurses encounter fewer emergencies, these positions can offer more predictable and less stressful working environments than other nursing jobs. Read on for an overview on how to become a dermatology nurse, its pros and cons, and potential salary.

average earning potential
as of July 2021

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

Image: 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.

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

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

Disadvantages to Becoming a Dermatology Nurse

Burn units or plastic surgery departments can be more stressful than other work environments. Nurses looking for a high-adrenaline workplace won't find it in most dermatology nurse positions. Some dermatology patients hold unrealistic expectations that can make patient education challenging. There 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.

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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Feature Image: SDI Productions / E+ / Getty Images

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