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STEM Career Spotlight: Immunologist

By: Nishita Gudipati

Immunology: the field that holds the key to understanding the body and its defense mechanisms against known and emerging diseases. In times of worldwide pandemics and outbreaks, the role of an immunologist and their knowledge presents to be more important than ever. What does an Immunologist do and how can one become an Immunologist? 

Most immunologists require advanced degrees such as a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or an M.D. These degrees require four years of undergrad, four years of medical school, and at least 2 years of residency or fellowship. During undergrad, it is recommended to take a relevant degree such as pre-medicine, public health, or biochemistry. It is also required to take biology, chemistry, and physics courses both during undergrad and in high school. After four years a similar path is followed in medical school with more clinical experience. Finally, after all the schooling one is required to take the medical licensing exam followed by residency and fellowship. At this stage most are considered official immunologists but they are required to obtain certification through the American Board of Allergy and Immunology. After the rigorous educational journey, they are considered officially certified immunologists. 

There are many sub-areas in immunology, however, on the basic level most immunologists are capable of diagnosing, treating, and researching health conditions related to the immune system. The more common jobs for immunologists include researching fundamental functionality and/or mechanisms of the immune system and its effect on the body, while others may be more specialized in applied immunology. Applied immunology is when one develops vaccines, immunotherapies, and/or diagnostics for infectious diseases. Overall there are many areas within immunology that an immunologist can choose to specialize in. On average an immunologist makes around $250,000 annually. 

Overall, immunology is a constantly changing field with high demand for immunologists, especially recent discoveries of newly emerging diseases and epidemics, increasing the need and importance of an immunologist. 

Work Cited:

“How To Become an Immunologist.” Indeed, 21 July 2022, Accessed 6 March 2024.

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