Last Updated: 03/17/15
Physicians who specialize in allergy and immunology diagnose a wide range of disorders involving the immune system by evaluating the results of both physical examinations and laboratory findings. They then determine a means of treatment or management of the diagnosed problem. Some of the conditions that an allergist or immunologist might treat include asthma, rhinitis, anaphylaxis, eczema, adverse reactions to medications or foods and allergic reactions to insect bites. These doctors also diagnose and determine courses of treatment for immune deficiency diseases, which could be either congenital or acquired. Other aspects they might be involved with would include autoimmune diseases, organ transplantation or any malignancies of the immune system that develop in a patient.
As a medical immunologist or allergist you can work in a hospital, clinic or private practice and work directly with patients, diagnosing their conditions, developing treatment plans and tracking the progress of treatment.
Alternatively, you can work as a research immunologist in a laboratory setting. This career can be both exciting and stressful at the same time. It can be exciting to conduct various scientific studies in which you examine cell reproduction and how various diseases affect the immune system. You might also make observations in the field in the natural environment where allergens exist. As mentioned earlier, these jobs can often be stressful as the studies are often funded by academic institutions that set strict deadlines on projects. If you choose the track of a research immunologist you need to complete a Ph.D. in biology or microbiology.
To practice allergy and immunology, you must complete a three-year residency program in either pediatrics or internal medicine followed by a two to three-year fellowship in either immunology or allergy, whichever specialty you would like to practice. The fellowship program is split into two parts. The first year (PY1) is the first part, when you will learn the ins and outs of clinical knowledge in allergy and immunology and the second part will be the second and third year in which you concentrate on conducting and publishing research. When planning for your residency and fellowship, it is important to keep in mind that not all fellowship programs will accept a candidate who has completed either a pediatric or an internal medicine residency; some only accept a completed residency from one or the other. Certification is then granted after you complete all required training and pass the examination given by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.
Allergy and Immunology Salary
The latest national average shows that the national average for allergy and immunology physicians starting out is $158,000, while the median average salary is $215,543. The majority of all of physicians in this specialty, regardless of experience make between $194,042 and $247,988. Some doctors in this field report making upwards of $480,000.
Many sources that track job opportunity in the medical field say the outlook for allergists and immunologists is very good and both have faster than average job growth. This could be because millions of American’s suffer from symptoms caused by allergic reactions to a wide variety both natural and inorganic pollutants. In fact, 1 in every 5 Americans (about 20 percent of the population) has an allergy of some kind. There is also an expected boom in the growth of the elderly population and as people age they tend to develop allergies to things they had not previously had a problem with and often experience a decline in functioning of their immune systems.
These statistics are posted with permission from FREIDA Online.
- Academic Year: 2010
- Average Resident Work Hours (PY1): 46.3 hours per week, 14.2 maximum consecutive hours on duty, 1.6 average days off per week
- Average Compensation: $53,647
- Average Number Weeks of Vacation: 3.4
**More statistics for Allergy and Immunology can be found at FREIDA Online.