Dermatology Technician Careers: Salary & Job Description

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A dermatology technician's median annual salary is around $30,000. Is it worth the education requirements? See real job descriptions and get the truth about career prospects to find out if becoming a dermatology technician is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Dermatology Technician Career

A dermatology technician performs a variety of clinical and/or administrative tasks to help a dermatologist run his or her office. Learn about the pros and cons of dermatology assisting to see if this career is right for you.

Pros of a Career as a Dermatology Technician
Good career prospects for medical assistants (29% increase anticipated from 2012-2022)*
A high school diploma may be sufficient to enter the field*
Work is usually full-time*
May lead to other careers in healthcare*

Cons of a Career as a Dermatology Technician
Low pay (median annual salary of $30,000 for all medical assistants as of 2014)*
May have to work weekends, holidays or evenings*
Need to be able to use EHR (electronic health records) software*
Exposure to blood might make one queasy*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Information

Job Description

A dermatology technician works in a dermatology office making appointments, answering phones and greeting patients. He or she might complete insurance forms, assign medical codes to invoices, bill third-party payees for services performed and keep track of inventory. A clinical dermatology technician may document a patient's medical history, record vital signs, help with patient exams, take out stitches, change bandages, draw blood and perform lab tests. He or she also might assist in minor surgeries done in the office. The actual duties that a clinical dermatology technician can do are determined by the state in which he or she works.

Career Prospects and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't provide job outlook data specifically for dermatology technicians. However, they would qualify as medical assistants, who were estimated to see a 29% increase in job opportunities from 2012-2022. This spike was partially due to an anticipated need for physicians to see more patients, which could create the need for more medical assistants to handle clerical tasks. As of May 2014, medical assistants made a median salary of around $30,000.

What Are the Requirements?

You can start your education as a dermatology technician in high school by taking courses in anatomy, chemistry and biology, as recommended by the BLS. Employers typically require a high school diploma, with additional skills learned through on-the-job training. It's necessary for workers in this career to be organized and professional, given its office setting and required interaction with the public and medical staff. Physicians rely on an assistant who's detail-oriented when handling patient files and processing insurance information. Additionally, a certain level of technical skill is needed when using computer equipment as well as medical equipment, like a blood pressure cuff.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Employers who use dermatology technicians need candidates who have experience working in a dermatologist office. Job postings generally specify clinical procedures that the assistant will be helping with. Since you'll be dealing directly with customers, dermatologists also want friendly, well-groomed and patient individuals with good communication skills. The following are examples of open jobs in April 2012.

  • A skin care, cosmetic and vision practice in Florida was seeking a dermatology assistant to help doctors make appointments for office surgeries and perform diagnostic tests. The candidate would also take patients' vitals, perform clerical and clinical duties and get patients ready to see the doctor. The assistant needed three or more years of experience in medical assisting, preferably in dermatology assisting.
  • A dermatology practice in Florida was looking for a medical assistant to work in the back office, helping doctors during clinical procedures and preparing patients for exams. At least one year of experience was needed in clinical medical assisting, and this employer preferred candidates with dermatology experience.
  • A Virginia dermatology office advertised for a medical assistant with dermatology experience. The position called for familiarity with cosmetic procedures, skin tag removal and biopsies.

How to Stand Out

Some employers prefer candidates who have formal training through a certificate, diploma or associate's degree program with classes in medical terminology and anatomy as well as laboratory courses. Some medical assistant programs offer courses in specialty areas, including dermatology. Students also might take courses in biology, math, pathology, drug principles, coding, clinical basics, computer applications, medication administration and phlebotomy. You'll benefit from a program that includes administrative and clinical externships in dermatology.

Consider Certification

Although dermatology assistants don't need to obtain certification, the BLS mentioned that many employers favor candidates with certification. Certifying agencies have different education and experience requirements, and applicants must pass an exam. Some certification options include:

  • American Association of Medical Assistants - Certified Medical Assistant
  • American Medical Technologists - Registered Medical Assistant
  • National Center for Competency Testing - National Certified Medical Assistant
  • National Healthcareer Association - Certified Clinical Medical Assistant

Learn about EHR

The BLS states that doctors are converting their paper files to electronic health records (EHR), so dermatology technicians need to be familiar with appropriate software. To be ahead of the curve, consider taking courses or training to learn about EHR through programs at vocational, technical and community colleges.

Become an Esthetician

Estheticians treat patients for non-medical skin issues. They help clients improve the look of their skin, remove hair and show clients how to do their makeup. Some job ads for dermatology technicians list an esthetician license as a plus. Licensure requirements usually include completing a training program and taking an examination.

Other Career Paths

If you'd like a career with great earning potential - and that still might allow you to work in a dermatologist's office - consider becoming a licensed practical nurse. This career requires completion of a formal education program, and you'll have to obtain state licensure. According to the BLS, licensed practical nurses made a median wage of about $41,000 in 2011, and jobs were expected to increase by 22% from 2010-2020.

Another career in which you would assist a medical professional is dental assistant. Anticipated job growth for this field was the same as that for medical assistants at 31% from 2010-2020, but the earning potential was higher; as of May 2011, dental assistants made an annual median salary of approximately $34,000. Education requirements for dental assistants range from no formal training to the completion of a program accredited by the American Dental Association's Commission on Dental Accreditation. You also might need to seek state registration or licensure, which typically requires completion of an exam.

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