Immunology is a scientific branch that deals with the physiological, chemical, and physical characteristics of the components of the immune system of organisms. It is a pivotal field in the healthcare sector. There is a growing demand for antibiotics. It has resulted in a consequent rise in the popularity of immunologists.
With the ongoing pandemic, COVID-19, there has been a surge in the importance and value of immunology research. The vaccine we have today as a shield against the virus is also a work of sound immunologists.
Beyond this, immunology also has several applications in different disciplines of medicine – psychiatry, parasitology, oncology, dermatology, virology, organ transplantation, dermatology, and bacteriology.
Below, we will discuss everything you need to know to make a career in immunology.
Who is an immunologist?
An immunologist is a clinician or a scientist who works in the field of immunology. They study animal and human health via consistent research. The primary role of an immunologist is to:
- Provide treatment for different disorders associated with the immune system
- Examine patients
- Diagnose the issues
- Perform and plan experiments
- Plan and perform studies and experiments
- Find result results
- Present their reports in conventional forums, seminars, and colleges
Healthcare groups, government organizations, national health services, pharma companies, biotech firms, corporates, and universities hire immunologists.
A graduate with an immunology degree can look for several job opportunities. The two most popular options include becoming a visiting immunologist or immunologist in private or government hospitals.
If you hold a doctorate backed by good working experience, you can get well-paying jobs in private hospitals. In addition, you can also apply for a teaching job in universities or colleges.
After the COVID-19 pandemic, the popularity and the scope of immunologists saw a constant surge.
How to become an immunologist?
Students wishing to achieve a doctorate in immunology must complete a bachelor’s degree in science. They can do a pre-med major in physics, organic chemistry, biology, and chemistry.
After this, they should pass the MCAT or the Medical College Admissions Test and take Immunology courses online. These can help perfect their understanding of the different immunology concepts.
In your initial two years in the med school, you will spend maximum time in the lab and the classroom, wherein you learn about:
- Medical ethics
- Human body systems
Further, you will also learn some skills to perform a patient examination. In the next two years, you will complete a clinical rotation. It allows you to diagnose and cure patients. All of this takes place under the supervision of a licensed medical physician.
Following this, an immunologist completes their residency, typically in paediatrics and medicine. During this period, they can complete an immunology rotation centered on immune system disorders that includes supervised, intensive lab work to be thorough with the different testing methods and study clinical results.
The immunology fellowship lasts for three years. During this period, the residents get to check on patients with immunological diseases and disorders under the supervision of a licensed physician. Further, they may also study specialized areas like allergies or rheumatology.
After finishing the training and studies, students are eligible to acquire a license from the state’s health board or a similar governing body.
As you practice, you can take different Immunology courses online to be constantly updated about the new happenings in the field. TangoLearn has some of the best class suggestions. In addition to these credentials, an Immunologist should also acquire a certification from the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) or the American Board of Paediatrics (ABP).
It is a mandatory prerequisite for certification from the American Board of Allergy and Immunology (ABAI).
To make a career in immunology, you should be willing to explore different career options. For a progressive career, you can consider taking bachelor’s, master’s, post-diploma, and doctorate-level courses. A few specializations that you can try are:
- Evolutionary immunology
- Allergy & immunology
- Diagnostic immunology
- Reproductive immunology
- Immunology & blood transfusion.
- Medical microbiology & immunology
- Microbiology immunology
- Clinical immunology
- Cancer immunology
Immunologists develop tests and analyses that study the body’s ability to combat diseases. They examine bacterial and viral pathology and immune system function in animals and humans. Most immunologists work in the medicine and healthcare sector.
Even though different jobs have varying responsibilities, here is a list of tasks that immunologists perform as part of their professional career:
- Using emergent and available data for devising potential therapies
- Finding beneficial illness biomarkers for clinical application
- Becoming an innovator to better conventional immunological techniques
- Collaborating with the vendor networks and the external stakeholders
- Working in collaboration with the interdisciplinary team comprising other immunologists, bench scientists, bioinformaticians, and geneticists
- Executing and designing clinical and laboratory experiments
- Reading current scientific research and literature in immunology or other related fields
- Establishing experimental procedures and protocols associated with biology
- Pushing the boundaries to advance the experimental immunology knowledge
- Assessing the efficacy of the trial candidates
As a senior immunologist, your scope goes beyond scientific tasks. So, you will perform managerial tasks too. A few of these tasks involve communications, budgeting, and milestones for a project.
Some of the prevalent tasks are:
- Managing project results
- Evaluating immunological markers
- Deciding benchmarks
- Monitoring and assisting team members
- Planning and coordinating projects
- Collaborating with a team to determine the efficacy, safety, and dosage of the chosen therapeutic approach
- Negotiating the employment of third-party resources
- Designing budgets, benchmarks, and milestones
- Sticking to the budget
- Offering consultation to researchers, professionals, and agencies
- Ensuring the accuracy of the data collection and recordkeeping methods for lab and clinical works while adhering to patient confidentiality regulations
- Participating, planning, and organizing in advocacy and outreach programs
- Advising healthcare policymakers and administrators for developments in the field
- Forming effective workgroup systems for budgeting and communication
Your earnings as an immunologist depend on the employer, position, and training. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests that biological scientists make an average salary of $85,290.
Further, microbiologists, including medical microbiologists, earn a median salary of $84,400.
Lastly, the biological technicians earn an annual income of $46,340.