Careers in Endocrinology

Research what it takes to become an endocrinologist. Learn about education requirements, job duties, licensure and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Anatomy & Physiology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Endocrinologist?

An endocrinology career is a medical career that involves studying hormones and the effects they can have on the human body. Endocrinologists work towards finding a balance of hormones for patients. They research to try and find new ways to treat hormone imbalance. Some of the conditions endocrinologists work with include thyroid disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, metabolic issues and infertility. Just like other doctors, endocrinologists speak with patients about their medical history and share current findings. They also look over test results and decide on a treatment plan.

The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Doctor of Medicine
Education Field of Study Biology, chemistry, or pre-med as an undergraduate; internal medicine during the residency
Key Skills Communication, patience, leadership, decision-making, problem-solving, organizational
Licensure Required Medical license is required; board certification is optional, but recommended
Job Growth (2014-2024) 14% for all physicians and surgeons*
Average Salary (2015) $196,520 for all general internists*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Are Some Careers Available in Endocrinology?

Endocrinology is a medical specialty that deals with the endocrine system, a system of glands that release hormones into the blood system. As an endocrinologist, you'll study human diseases that are related to the endocrine system, which includes organs such as the thyroid, ovaries, testes and pancreas. You'll evaluate symptoms related to these areas and diagnose diseases. Some common diseases associated with the endocrine system include hyperthyroidism and diabetes.

As an endocrinologist, you'll perform laboratory tests to diagnose and eventually treat endocrine diseases. You'll also teach patients how to manage chronic diseases that will demand treatment and care throughout their lives. Some specializations you might choose in the field include pediatric endocrinology, reproductive endocrinology and neuroendocrinology.

A degree in endocrinology may also lead to careers in other medical fields. For example, you may attain a career as a general internist, in which you would assess patients and provide nonsurgical treatment of problems affecting internal organ systems. A focus on endocrinology in your degree program might also lead to a career in another specialty subject as a surgeon or physician. These careers include gastroenterology (focusing on the digestive system), and cardiology (focusing on the heart and circulatory system).

Another career you might attain with an endocrinology degree is in pediatrics. As a pediatrician you would examine, diagnose and treat injuries, diseases and other health issues found in children.

What Educational Programs Are Available?

In order to become an endocrinologist, you must complete four years of medical school and three years in a residency program. Before enrolling in medical school, you must first complete a baccalaureate degree program in a field such as biology, life sciences, chemistry or pre-medicine. You must then pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) to be eligible for admission to medical school.

While completing a residency, you'll often be required to focus on a medical specialty. Endocrinology is generally covered as a subspecialty within a residency in internal medicine. In a residency, you'll spend approximately two or three years working directly with patients, under supervision, and studying diseases related to the endocrine system. Residencies in the field of endocrinology are somewhat uncommon, and finding a residency position might prove to be challenging and competitive.

What Additional Qualifications Will I Need?

You must obtain a medical license in your state before you can begin working as an endocrinologist. Each state has its own board of medicine with its own requirements for granting licensure. Many states will require you to submit your resume and qualifications along with your application. You'll also need board certification in internal medicine and in the subspecialty of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism. The American Board of Internal Medicine offers both the internal medicine certification and the subspecialty certification (www.abim.org).

What Salary Can I Expect to Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports than in May 2015, internal medicine physicians, including endocrinologists, earned an average salary of $196,520. In general, all physicians and surgeons made a mean annual wage of $197,700 during that time. Also in 2015, pediatricians made a mean annual wage of $183,180. PayScale.com notes that endocrinologists earned a median salary of $184,427 as of October 2016.

The BLS also states than between 2014-2024, physicians and surgeons in general will experience job growth of 14%. This is faster than the average for all U.S. occupations, and is driven in part by the expansion of the healthcare industry and the country's aging population.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Those that are interested in the medical field have several other options if Endocrinology doesn't interest them. Anesthesiologists, pediatricians, and psychiatrists are only some of the options available that require a doctoral degree. Anesthesiologists administer pain relief drugs to patients who are having an operation or surgical procedure. Pediatricians primarily treat young people who are ill, injured or need vaccinations. Psychiatrists focus their work with those who are suffering from mental illnesses.

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