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Allergists and Immunologists

At a Glance

  • Treat a variety of conditions, including hay fever and auto-immune disorders
  • Go to medical school after receiving a bachelor's degree
  • Work with patients and other medical staff
  • Often work more than 40 hours a week
  • Prescribe medications

Career summary

Allergists are doctors who treat hay fever and other allergies, asthma, and diseases of the immune system. They are also called immunologists.

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An allergy is a response by the immune system to substances in the environment. To diagnose allergies, allergists and immunologists take a thorough patient history. They ask about symptoms, family history, home, work, and school environments.

During an exam, allergists and immunologists examine the upper and lower respiratory system. They look at the nose, the mouth, the ears, and the eyes. They feel the lymph nodes in the neck and listen to the heart and lungs.

Allergists and immunologists may order several types of tests such as:

They review test results and develop a treatment plan for each patient. They may suggest environmental changes, such as limiting exposure to pets for someone who is allergic to animals. They also prescribe drugs to relieve the symptoms. Allergists and immunologists keep detailed patient records.

Some allergists and immunologists work with people whose immune system attacks the body unnecessarily. When a patient has an organ transplant, an allergist or immunologist is on the medical team to manage the reaction until the new organ is accepted by the body.

Many allergists and immunologists work at medical offices or hospital clinics. Others are involved in research at medical schools, government agencies, or drug companies. Some allergists and immunologists combine patient care with teaching and research.

Related careers

This career is part of the Health Science cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to allergists and immunologists.

Common work activities

Allergists and immunologists perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, allergists and immunologists:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance

Physical demands

Allergists and immunologists frequently:

It is important for allergists and immunologists to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for allergists and immunologists to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Allergists and immunologists need to:


Reason and problem solve

Use math and science

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as an allergist or immunologist, you typically need to:

Education after high school

You usually need a bachelor's degree to get into medical school. While you do not need to be a pre-medicine or science major, these programs are good preparation. If you earn a liberal arts degree, be sure to take courses in physics, biology, and chemistry.

To become a doctor, you must complete medical school. Medical schools grant a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DOM) degree. You spend the first two years of medical school in classrooms and labs studying anatomy, biochemistry, and medicines. You also learn how to take a medical history, examine patients, and diagnose illnesses. During the next two years, you care for patients in hospitals and clinics under the supervision of doctors.

After completing medical school, you must complete three years of additional training in either internal medicine or pediatrics. Following this residency, you must pass an exam. Finally, you must complete a two-year fellowship in allergy or immunology training.

On-the-job training

While in medical school, you spend much of the last two years working in a clinical setting. Clinical work emphasizes diagnosing and treating patients. After completing medical school, you complete three years of additional training as a resident in either internal medicine or pediatrics. More training is gained during a fellowship.

Military training

The military provides advanced training for doctors. However, it does not provide the initial training to become a doctor. Scholarships for advanced medical training are available in return for a required period of military service.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum (external link) may be different from your state's graduation requirements (external link).

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups (PDF file) that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Many allergists and immunologists begin work in a group practice or clinic. Some go to work for the hospital where they complete their residency.

Employers look for applicants who are inquisitive, compassionate, and patient. It is important to have good communication skills and be an effective decision-maker. Strong analytical and problem-solving skills are also important.

Costs to workers

Allergists and Immunologists who join professional associations may pay membership fees and annual dues. They may also attend courses, seminars, and workshops to update their knowledge and keep up to date on changes in their field.

Allergists and immunologists who have borrowed money to pay school expenses have large debt payments for the first few years after graduation. The average educational debt for medical students who graduated in 2017 was $190,694 with 83% percent owing at least $100,000. Malpractice insurance is expensive. To enter private practice, practitioners must invest in equipment, office space, and staffing costs. Estimated costs range from $75,000 to $100,000 or more.

#Updated to mean 2014 graduate debt info from debt fact card 2/4/14, cj. Used 2015 debt card 4/13/15 lh. Updated link for source of debt data & updated info 2/2/16 & 1/31/18, cj. https://members.aamc.org/iweb/upload/2017%20Debt%20Fact%20Card.pdf (external link) (PDF file)


Allergists and immunologists must be licensed by the State of Washington as either medical or osteopathic physicians. General licensing requirements include:

For more information on the US Medical Licensing Exam, call 215.590.9500 or go to the National Board of Medical Examiners (external link) website.

Osteopathic doctors must complete 150 hours of continuing education every three years and medical doctors must complete 200 hours of continuing education every four years.

Licensing fees vary ranging from $491 (medical physicians) to $391 (osteopathic physicians) for the application. The annual renewal fee for osteopathic physicians is $441 and the biannual renewal fee for medical physicians is $657. The combined fee for an application and state exam for osteopathic practitioners is $516. The licensing and the renewal fees generally include an access fee for health-related online library journals and publications and a Washington physician health program surcharge.

For more information on medical doctors, contact:

Washington Medical Commission (external link)
PO Box 47866
Olympia, WA 98504-7866

For information on osteopathic doctors, contact:

Washington State Board of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery (external link)
PO Box 47877
Olympia, WA 98504-7865

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Physicians and surgeons, all other (SOC 29-1069)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $48.36 $79.36 (1) (1) (1)
Monthly $8,381 $13,753 (1) (1) (1)
Yearly $100,600 $165,060 (1) (1) (1)
    Bellingham Hourly $72.55 (2) (2) (2) (2)
Monthly $12,573 (2) (2) (2) (2)
Yearly $150,899 (2) (2) (2) (2)
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $71.33 $84.43 $99.42 (2) (2)
Monthly $12,361 $14,632 $17,229 (2) (2)
Yearly $148,372 $175,633 $206,801 (2) (2)
    Clarkston-Lewiston Hourly $53.58 $97.51 (2) (2) (2)
Monthly $9,285 $16,898 (2) (2) (2)
Yearly $111,434 $202,811 (2) (2) (2)
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $41.79 $60.88 (2) (2) (2)
Monthly $7,242 $10,551 (2) (2) (2)
Yearly $86,905 $126,626 (2) (2) (2)
    Longview Hourly $82.07 (2) (2) (2) (2)
Monthly $14,223 (2) (2) (2) (2)
Yearly $170,709 (2) (2) (2) (2)
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $25.58 $47.63 (2) (2) (2)
Monthly $4,433 $8,254 (2) (2) (2)
Yearly $53,211 $99,052 (2) (2) (2)
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $18.27 $31.23 $98.25 (2) (2)
Monthly $3,166 $5,412 $17,027 (2) (2)
Yearly $38,002 $64,966 $204,361 (2) (2)
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $53.73 $86.69 (2) (2) (2)
Monthly $9,311 $15,023 (2) (2) (2)
Yearly $111,749 $180,323 (2) (2) (2)
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $28.29 $48.86 $93.56 (2) (2)
Monthly $4,903 $8,467 $16,214 (2) (2)
Yearly $58,850 $101,628 $194,605 (2) (2)
    Vancouver Hourly $28.12 $37.37 $73.86 (2) (2)
Monthly $4,873 $6,476 $12,800 (2) (2)
Yearly $58,485 $77,735 $153,643 (2) (2)
    Walla Walla Hourly $37.55 $56.33 $60.19 $72.58 (2)
Monthly $6,507 $9,762 $10,431 $12,578 (2)
Yearly $78,115 $117,177 $125,194 $150,965 (2)
    Wenatchee Hourly $58.09 $92.04 (2) (2) (2)
Monthly $10,067 $15,951 (2) (2) (2)
Yearly $120,826 $191,441 (2) (2) (2)
    Yakima Hourly $80.87 $96.36 (2) (2) (2)
Monthly $14,015 $16,699 (2) (2) (2)
Yearly $168,219 $200,420 (2) (2) (2)
United States Hourly $28.98 $53.58 $96.58 (1) (1)
Monthly $5,022 $9,285 $16,737 (1) (1)
Yearly $60,280 $111,440 $200,890 (1) (1)

(1) Wages are greater than $90/hour or $187,200/year.
(2) Wage estimate is not available.

Wages vary by employer, years of experience, and hours worked. The doctor's skill, personality, and professional reputation also affect wages. Self-employed allergists and immunologists generally earn more than those who are not self-employed.

Allergists and immunologists usually receive benefits. Typical benefits include sick leave, paid vacation, health insurance, and a retirement plan. Allergists and immunologists who are self-employed must provide their own insurance and retirement plan.

National wage information is not available specifically for allergists and immunologists. However, they are part of the larger group of "all other physicians and surgeons."

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Physicians and Surgeons, All Other (SOC 29-1069)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 9,109 19.9% 16.1% 620
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 151 -4.6% 13.4% 3
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 109 15.6% 8.6% 6
    Benton and Franklin Counties 267 26.6% 15.0% 22
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 264 24.2% 11.9% 20
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 547 21.4% 15.2% 38
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 338 17.2% 14.1% 21
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 364 20.3% 14.6% 25
    King County 4,362 19.6% 19.6% 294
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 243 18.9% 13.8% 16
    Pierce County 678 20.1% 15.2% 46
    Snohomish County 973 21.7% 12.4% 70
    Spokane County 669 18.7% 13.9% 43
United States 433,700 7.8% 5.2% 16,500

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Much of the demand for allergists and immunologists will be the result of a growing population. As the population grows, the number of people in need of care from allergists and immunologists will increase. In addition, an aging population will increase the number of people with conditions that require treatment from an immunologist.

Job prospects are good for physicians willing to practice in rural, low-income areas.

Employment and outlook information is not available specifically for allergists and immunologists. However, they are part of the larger group of "all other physicians and surgeons."

Other resources

American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) (external link)
555 East Wells Street, Suite 1100
Milwaukee, WI 53202
American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (external link)
5550 Friendship Boulevard, Suite 310
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
American Board of Allergy and Immunology (external link)
1835 Market Street, Suite 1210
Philadelphia, PA 19103
American Medical Association (external link)
American Medical Association - Medical Student Section (external link)
American Osteopathic Association (external link)
142 East Ontario Street
Chicago, IL 60611


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupation

Strong Interest Inventory

Holland occupational cluster