A Comprehensive Guide on Dermatopathology Salary

When you think about medical practices, a few things come to mind. General practitioners, surgeons, and even oncologists are among the most recognized healthcare professionals. A dermatopathologist is a highly specialized field that undergoes rigorous training and practice to diagnose skin diseases through minute detail and microscopic examination.

Being a niche area of medicine, a dermatopathologist is not often thought of as a career after medical school. With the prevalence of skin disease cases rising, the demand for this will increase by at least 11% This is especially in specific geographical areas that may require it more than others.


Whether you are an aspiring dermatopathologist, searching for a field to specialize in, or are already practicing but looking for new ways to improve your career and earning potential, we have you covered.

Apart from your dedication and passion, we have compiled a comprehensive guide covering salary, factors affecting income, debt and loan management, and other strategies to build and protect your wealth.

Average Dermatopathologist Salary

As with all professions in the medical field, the salary range for certain practitioners can vary based on numerous factors. Base salary for higher earners oftens reflects compensation and will come in other forms – bonuses, merit increases, insurance, and benefits.

Before we dive into the multiple factors that can affect your compensation in all respects, let’s take a look at some reasonable ranges that you can expect:

According to ZipRecruiter, The median salary reported is $362,499, with a reasonable range between $325,000 and $396,000.

A completely different stat is provided by the well-known site Comparably. Here, the median salary reported is $291,766, with a reasonable range between $272,931 and $448,273.

The stats at Glassdoor may paint a different picture. The median salary reported is $317,346, with a reasonable range between $238,000 and $435,000.

In research conducted by the National Library of Medicine, the average annual compensation in private practice is $525,000, and $366,000 for those in academia.

MGMA reports: The median salary reported is $526,051, a figure similar to the National Library of Medicine study.

Factors Affecting Dermatopathologist Salary

While the ranges above may give you a clearer picture of what you are looking at, many factors will affect your income potential. While some may be common knowledge affecting all professions, a few of them may surprise you. Here are the most common elements that can affect your salary and base compensation:

Professional Experience

Indeed, experience is often a great indicator of success. Your clients, patients, employers, and business partners will be much more likely to trust that you are doing a great job if you have already done the exact position many years prior.

On paper, experience is one of the most critical indicators that make you known in your field. Experience does much more than solidify your training and put it to good use; it also allows you to learn more about specific cases and offer specialized knowledge – which we will discuss further down this list.

Location, Location, Location

Geographic locations within the United States play a significant role in determining your salary and overall compensation. Starting with the school you choose to practice at, you can develop your opportunities in a specific location over another. This will also influence your network, experiences, and possibilities.

Generally speaking, working in large urban areas such as New York and Pennsylvania will have a higher salary and demand for a dermatopathologist. A study conducted by the Bureau of labor statistics 2022 states that Texas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, and Pennsylvania are the top 5 states with the highest employment in the dermatological fields.

Location can play a significant role when competing for a position with someone with similar seniority to you. If you have worked on more cases, provided better quality work, and practiced in an area well-regarded in your field, it can provide the tipping of the scales necessary to secure that position – and increase your pay.

Interested in practicing in another state? See our State Guides for Practicing Medicine:

Illinois  |  Texas  |  Florida  |  California  |  New York

Specialties and Subspecialties

You will discover niche interests if you’re an aspiring dermatopathologist or already employed and practicing in the field. In some cases, this can drastically improve your income. Dermatopathology is already a specialty of the dermatology field. Further subspecialties will narrow your interests and skills to be more in demand for particular scenarios.

Here are the top three subspecialties of dermatopathology:

Pediatric Dermatopathology: This subspecialty focuses on diagnosing skin conditions in children. Due to the sensitive nature and the detailed diagnosis process, it can be rather lucrative.

Dermatopathology Research: Although this is not specific to the dermatopathology field, a specialization within research can help to increase or supplement your income. If you have signed a contract for full-time study, this may increase your earnings. YOu don’t necessarily have to conduct research full time or as a solo endeavor.

Many physicians collaborate with other like-minded individuals for research while working in a clinic, private practice, or hospital.

Cutaneous Lymphoma: The skin is the largest organ, and dermatopathologists are often brought in as a specialty to this field to help diagnose patients and provide recommendations on treatment options. In addition to everyday conditions, one serious affliction is cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL). This cancer starts in mature T cells throughout the dermal layers.

If caught early and treated, it will drastically reduce the chance that it will spread to vital organs of the body, making CTCL non-life threatening with proper care. Dermatopathologists with experience treating this condition are generally well-rewarded for the good they do for society.

Is There a Gender Wage Gap?

Although there is no specific data about dermatopathologist physicians, The National Library of Medicine reviewed the overall branch of dermatology in 2021. The study stated that although some states continue to see female underrepresentation (mainly in the mountain states), the percentage of female dermatologists has drastically increased since 1970.

Currently, there are no findings of gender income disparity in this field.

Shortages and Demand

As we have briefly touched upon in another section, shortages and increased demand for practicing dermatopathologists are enormous indicators of salary negotiations going your way. At the same time, geographic needs are the most common. This is not the only factor that can influence demand.

Considering everything, private practices or specialized posts will be created for those with the correct training, expertise, specialty, and skills. Health scares and research, such as discovering a new prevalent strain of skin disease, will create a necessity post-haste.

The medical field is already severely understaffed due to the lingering effects of health crises, employment issues, pandemics, and epidemics.

Average Loan Debt for Dermatopathologists

Student loan debt can vary greatly depending on background, specialties, and access to capital. In general, it is not uncommon to see an outstanding balance of $200,000 or more. This does not necessarily include only student loan debt. A very high-interest loan granted through a line of credit or other avenue could service some of the debt.

Aspiring and practicing dermatopathologists need to consider student loan debt management as their primary way of removing the proverbial shackles to get their career off to a great start.

Don’t Ignore the Problem

The first step towards tackling student loan (and other) debt is to see how much you owe, what interest you pay, and when to start. A standard error is capitalization, which ignores the problem at the source, and the compounding of debt interest will work against you and make you feel stuck before you even get your foot in the door.

Like your practice, you must examine and diagnose your issue before beginning treatment.

Income-Driven Repayment

There are four methods of income-driven repayments. You should explore all of them to determine which one is right for you. One such program is the REPAYE program, which caps your payments to an affordable schedule that will give you enough breathing room to increase your income potential gradually.

There are other programs within the IDR method. However, some are geared towards professions where the income does not jump yearly. The medical profession is the highest-earning profession in the United States, and most of your highest-earning years will be later in life.

A crucial aspect of this program is that you can apply for loan forgiveness down the line, which can exponentially assist you in getting to your financial goals faster.

Loan Refinancing

Although loan forgiveness is a great way to eliminate some of your debt, it is a particular process and may not come into effect unless specific criteria are met. In addition, loan forgiveness and repayment may not happen until some payments have already been made – and may keep accumulating interest.

After you identify the problem, one of the best ways to start is to lower the interest rate and consolidate your loans if your debt is from multiple institutions.

Physicians Thrive offers special, discounted, and uniquely tailored rates to help doctors like you secure more favorable terms.

Keep Reading: The Full Breakdown to Medical School Loans.

Increasing Salary and Expanding Income

Now that you have a good understanding of the factors affecting your current and future financial situation, there are some practical steps to take toward increasing or diversifying your income that you can consider:

Start a Private Practice

Establishing your practice can arguably be the best way to dictate your income. You will have complete control over your practice’s revenue, expenses, and staffing and can make business decisions as you see fit. Of course, this also means you will have to be a great dermatopathologist, business owner, marketer, and leader.

If you already have an established practice, consider investing in your own office or other real estate. Leasing an office may be the right move financially in the short term, but you cannot share in capital appreciation or lease vacant rooms and offices in your building without ownership.

Your practice will also mean that you can hire PAs, NPs, and unlicensed assistants to help with operations, treatment, and admin work. This will free up your time to focus on high-profile cases and higher-income generation activities.

Certifications and Specialities

You may become interested in certain things as you continue to have a successful career. It is also highly possible that you meet complementary, like-minded, and ancillary people to establish a network.

These opportunities can not only lead you towards more desirable and niche postings. Still, they can also lead to partnerships and income opportunities with clinics that offer various services. Examples include radiologists and other specialties of dermatology.

Locum Tenens and Research

Due to a shortage of specialized professionals in the medical field, it is rare to find postings that require you to have exclusive employment or income generation only with them. If so, an employer must compensate you extremely well for this fact.

Locum Tenens are short-term work contracts that can increase your salary and further develop your interests and network. Your love of dermatopathology may also drive you towards research projects. This can be lucrative and provide additional income and academic recognition for your excellence.

Transforming Your Income Potential to a Stress-Free Retirement

If you are a young practitioner, you may feel like you can put off retirement to a later age or start contributing to your retirement once you have substantial income opportunities. The reality is you can constantly adjust your contributions, but you will never be able to go back in time and take advantage of the 8th wonder of the world – compound interest.

Physicians, particularly those in specialized fields, usually start working after many of their peers who have pursued other careers. By this we mean you are already closer to retirement than your non-medical school friends. Financial freedom should be considered as early as possible, and retirement planning should be comprehensive.

Contribute consistently to your employer’s 401(k) or 403 plans, and supplement these contributions by starting a traditional or Roth IRA. If you are self-employed, looking into a SEP plan, and considering other investments in real estate, equities, and fixed-income instruments.

Related: The Complete Guide to Physician Retirement Planning

Determine Malpractice Insurance Coverage

It can get hectic quickly once you are employed or have started your practice. Remember that malpractice insurance is not a luxury but a necessity for all physicians. Almost half of physicians are being sued throughout their careers; malpractice insurance provides peace of mind and can protect your income from claims. Here are three things to consider:

Claims-Made: A claims-made insurance covers you if the malpractice allegation happened while the policy was active.

Occurrence-Based: Although less common, an occurrence-based policy typically costs more but provides better coverage. Regardless of when the claimant reported their complaint, you are covered for liability claims for events while your policy was active. This is true even if it is not active.

Tail Insurance: Tail insurance is necessary to extend the coverage of your claims-made policy to have continuous coverage in the interim. It is often used to cover you while switching to occurrence-based coverage.

Choosing precisely what you need is difficult. Physicians Thrive provides personalized consultation on your malpractice insurance coverage and options.

The Importance of Salary and Compensation Negotiations

Congratulations! After a long and successful journey, you may have finally made it through to the final round. Going through various inspections, interviews, and other scrutinizing analyses can be daunting, but one of the most essential things about landing the job is your contract negotiation.

Asking for more can seem extremely difficult, especially if you have no leverage. If you are currently shackled by student loan debt and are trying to enter your first or second job, it can further reduce your confidence, and you may jump at the first offer.

Physicians Thrive offers expert contract review services for doctors of all levels to examine whether you are using the full extent of your compensation and benefits package and provide the following steps for any further negotiations and recommendations.

Read this: What Doctors Can Expect during Physician Salary Negotiation

Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones

Your dermatopathology salary, benefits, and increasing income potential are all affected by many factors, including experience, demand, and location. You can increase and diversify your income through real estate, starting a private practice, and taking on short-term contracts to prepare for retirement.

In your later years, it is no secret that you will have more opportunities and further income streams than when you first entered the field—investing in a disability insurance plan that protects your higher-earning years and your loved ones from critical illness, injuries and other health problems that can render you unable to work.

While some employers offer group plans, this is often not enough for many doctors due to the general coverage provided. Self-employed physicians may not have any coverage whatsoever.

The financial experts at Physicians Thrive offer free disability insurance quotes that are right for you and your unique case. We will work with you to customize a tremendous individual plan or to construct a competitive group plan for you.


The difficulties faced by dermatopathologists deserve appropriate compensation. Are you aware of your equitable market valuation?

Get a free copy of the Physicians Thrive 2023 Physician Compensation Report.


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