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How to Become an Immunologist

written by: Harry Sylvester•edited by: DaniellaNicole•updated: 5/17/2010

An immunologist is one of the most rewarding careers in medical science. You will have some information about the job, education, training, certification requirements, and salary of an immunologist by learning how to become an immunologist in the United States.

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    What is an Immunologist and Immunology?

    An immunologist or an allergist is a trained physician who is responsible for evaluating, diagnosing, and investigating the immune system. Meanwhile, immunology is a medical discipline that studies the immune system of vertebrates including the humans. An immunologist focuses on treating those who have different disorders like allergies, allergic reactions, asthma, sinusitis, immunodeficiency conditions, etc.

    According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology there are three types of careers immunologists may pursue:

    • An immunologist can be a research scientist like a Ph.D. in immunology who works in a laboratory setting and diagnoses the immune system.

    • An immunologist can be a physician like an M.D. who treats sick patients with allergies.

    • In addition, an immunologist might choose to combine a researcher with a physician who performs research in a laboratory then continue it by treating sick patients.

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    What Does an Immunologist Do?

    A few of the things an immunologist does include:

    • Performing statistical analysis of research data

    • Analyzing and diagnosing clinical experiments

    • Examining tissues and body fluids for abnormal cells or bacteria

    • Managing research laboratories in medical schools, research institute, universities, or biotechnology companies

    • Implementing new laboratory procedures

    • Examining blood cells and other tissues to help find their association with numerous physiological conditions

    • Helping students complete research papers

    • Supervising other staff members

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    What Education and Training are Essential to Become an Immunologist?

    For anyone interested in becoming an immunologist, the explanation below will explain how to become an immunologist. A strong background in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics in High School is obligatory for an immunologist. An immunologist also needs to complete four years of premedical education at a college or university, where he/she will earn a bachelor’s degree.

    The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is an important prerequisite to enter the medical schools in the United States. An immunologist must pass the MCAT and enroll in medical school to obtain a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree. It takes fours additional years to complete. The first two years are focused on taking courses in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, psychology, and medical ethics. The last two years are spent to diagnose ailments in hospitals and clinics to learn more about immunology.

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    Where Does an Immunologist Have to Apply the Knowledge after Medical School?

    After graduating from medical school, an immunologist needs to attend two to three additional years of training in internal medicine and pediatrics to become an immunologist or an allergist. A pediatrician can participate in becoming an immunologist as well.

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    What are the Certification and Licensing Requirements for an Immunologist?

    Every State in the United States will require that an immunologist be licensed. According to the American Board of Allergy and Immunology, licensing requirements include:

    • A diploma from an approved medical school

    • Completing three additional years of training in internal medicine and pediatrics

    • Passing the examination of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology to obtain board certification

    The American Board of Allergy and Immunology also provides some information on how to become an immunologist.

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    What are the Potential Earnings for an Immunologist?

    According to the salary survey data, the median annual salary an immunologist might earn is approximately $228,000 in 2009.

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    References

    State University.com: Allergist/Immunologist - http://careers.stateuniversity.com/pages/7703/Allergist-Immunologist.html

    Schools in the USA.com: Immunologist - http://www.schoolsintheusa.com/careerprofiles_details.cfm?carid=422

    The American Board of Allergy and Immunology - https://www.abai.org/

    University of Wisconsin: Allergist/Immunologist - http://www.uww.edu/uhcs/brochures/medoccup.pdf

    Health Communities.com: Overview, Education, Board Certification - http://allergy.healthcommunities.com/allergist.shtml