Career Guide: 6 Steps to Becoming an Immunologist

Career Guide: 6 Steps to Becoming an Immunologist
Career Guide: 6 Steps to Becoming an Immunologist

Immunology is one of the great specialties that specialize in diagnosing and treating conditions related to a dysfunctional immune system. In the previous article, we have gathered the job description and required education & training of immunologists. In this article, we define 6 steps to becoming an Immunologist to help you pursue this career.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Obtaining a bachelor’s degree is the first step to getting ready for your career as an immunologist. This degree requires you to enroll in a four-year program and graduate with a degree in a relevant area. Some degree options offer great benefits and knowledge for prospective immunologists including pre-medicine, biology, public health, nursing, or biochemistry.

Step 2: Attend a Medical School

Attend a Medical School
Attend a Medical School

During the final two years in the bachelor’s degree program, you can start applying to one or more medical schools based on your financial needs and study interests. In order to qualify for medical school, you must sit and pass the MCAT exam. After attending medical school, you need to complete 2 years of in-class instruction and 2 years of clinical rotations in a variety of healthcare settings.

Step 3: Complete the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE)

Before graduating from medical school, you need to take and pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). This exam is a multiple-choice examination with 3 parts including biology and chemistry, psychology, and critical analysis. After passing this, you will earn board certification from one area of medicine like the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM). This board certification qualifies aspiring immunologists to achieve a residency program to learn how to diagnose and treat internal illnesses or diseases.

Below are some additional examples of board certification specialties that you can achieve before pursuing a residency program:

  • Obstetrics and gynecology
  • Pediatrics
  • Psychiatry
  • Neurology
  • General surgery
  • Family medicine
  • Diagnostic radiology
  • Emergency medicine
  • Anesthesiology

Step 4: Participate in a Residency Program

Participate in a Residency Program
Participate in a Residency Program

A residency program consists of clinical experience within 3-4 years allowing medical students to assist physicians, surgeons, and other medical professionals in diagnosing and treating patients. Throughout this program, you can hone your clinical skills and explore different fields of medicine to help with your specialty. Additionally, this residency program allows immunologists to complete clinical training before proceeding to an immunology fellowship.

Step 5: Participate in an Immunology Fellowship

Fellowships for allergy and immunology specialties take at least 2 years to complete. During the first year of the fellowship, you need to work with senior immunologists to make patient appointments in a clinical setting. In the second year, you perform both clinical works and research activities to enhance your knowledge in one or more immunology sectors.

Step 6: Obtain the ABAI Certification

Obtain the ABAI Certification
Obtain the ABAI Certification

Once you complete the immunology fellowship, you qualify for board certification through the American Board of Allergy and Immunology (ABAI). To obtain this certification, you need to provide your transcripts at medical school and offer reference letters from a physician or qualified healthcare professional you worked with when participating in residency and fellowship programs. You may also need to prove your certification from The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) or pediatrics board to qualify to obtain the ABAI certification.

Conclusion

According to the BLS, the job outlook for physician and surgeon occupations, including immunologists, can expect to grow by a 4% increase in the period of 2019 – 2029. So prospective immunologists may earn a sustainable salary that aligns with the average. By following the 6-step guide that we mentioned above, you can pursue the immunologist career path successfully.