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Podiatrist vs. Dermatologist: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

Both podiatrists and dermatologists are medical professionals who diagnose and treat conditions of the skin, nails and hair. If you’re interested in a career in medicine and have a passion for helping people, either of these positions may be a good fit for you. In this article, we compare and contrast podiatrists and dermatologists, including their job duties, education requirements and average salaries.

What is a Podiatrist?

Podiatrists are doctors who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disorders of the feet and lower limbs. They often work in private practices, but may also work in hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Podiatrists treat a variety of conditions, including bunions, corns, calluses, ingrown toenails, heel spurs and Achilles tendonitis. They may also provide general foot care, such as trimming nails, removing calluses and providing orthotic devices. In some cases, podiatrists may perform surgery to correct foot or ankle problems.

What is a Dermatologist?

Dermatologists are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions affecting the skin, hair and nails. They treat conditions such as acne, psoriasis, skin cancer, eczema and rosacea. Dermatologists may also provide cosmetic services, such as Botox injections, laser hair removal and chemical peels. They may work in a private practice, hospital, clinic or other healthcare setting. Dermatologists typically see patients of all ages and must be able to effectively communicate with both children and adults.

Podiatrist vs. Dermatologist

Here are the main differences between a podiatrist and a dermatologist.

Job Duties

Both podiatrists and dermatologists have similar job duties, although the amount of time they spend on various tasks can vary. For example, a podiatrist may perform surgery to remove a patient’s calluses or fix a broken bone in their foot. They can also prescribe medication for conditions like diabetes or check for signs of cancer in the feet. In contrast, a dermatologist typically performs skin biopsies and checks for signs of skin cancer, but do not perform surgical procedures. They can refer patients to a podiatrist if necessary.

Another key difference between these two medical professionals is that a podiatrist has more interaction with patients’ feet, while a dermatologist has more interaction with patients’ skin. This allows each professional to focus on particular parts of the body and address any issues they find there.

Job Requirements

Podiatrists and dermatologists must both complete a four-year undergraduate degree before entering into their professional programs. For podiatrists, this is followed by completion of a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) program, which takes an additional four years. Dermatologists must then attend medical school for four years to earn their Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree. Afterward, they must complete a one-year internship and three years of residency training in dermatology. Some dermatologists may choose to complete an additional year of fellowship training in a subspecialty area.

Both podiatrists and dermatologists must be licensed in the state in which they wish to practice. To become licensed, they must pass exams administered by the state medical board. In addition, dermatologists must pass the written and oral examinations given by the American Board of Dermatology (ABD).

Work Environment

Podiatrists and dermatologists work in different environments. Podiatrists typically work in hospitals, private practices or other medical facilities. They may also work as part of a podiatric surgery team that travels to provide care for people who need it.

Dermatologists usually work in offices or clinics where they can perform skin cancer screenings and administer treatments. Some dermatologists choose to work in research laboratories where they study the causes and effects of diseases related to the skin.


Both podiatrists and dermatologists need to have excellent communication skills. They will be working with patients who may be experiencing pain or discomfort, and they need to be able to explain procedures and treatment options in a way that is easy for patients to understand.

Podiatrists and dermatologists also need to have strong attention to detail. They need to be able to notice small changes in a patient’s skin or nails that could indicate a more serious problem. They also need to be precise when performing treatments, like surgeries or injections.

Podiatrists benefit from having strong manual dexterity because they often need to perform delicate procedures, like trimming toenails or removing calluses. They also need to have physical strength to help them move around patients who may be unable to walk on their own. Dermatologists do not necessarily need the same level of manual dexterity, but they do need to have good vision so they can spot small changes in a patient’s skin.


Podiatrists earn an average salary of $167,974 per year, while dermatologists earn an average salary of $279,928 per year. The average salary for both professions may vary depending on the location of the job, the level of experience and the type of employer.


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