Endocrinologist: Career and Salary Facts
Research what it takes to become an endocrinologist. Learn about job duties, education, licensure requirements and salary to find out if this is the career for you.
What Is an Endocrinologist?
An endocrinologist is a licensed physician who has received special training to diagnose and treat conditions involving the endocrine system, which is the network of glands that produce hormones. Endocrinologists consult with patients and perform diagnostic tests to determine whether they have an endocrine condition. From there, they design a treatment plan, which could include prescription medication, nutritional supplements and/or lifestyle changes. After meeting with patients, they update the patient's medical history in order to ensure continuity of care.
The following chart provides an overview about becoming an endocrinologist.
|Degree Required||Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)|
|Training Required||3- to 4-year residency|
|Key Responsibilities||Examine patients, order diagnostic tests and analyze results; diagnose hormonal problems and prescribe medication and treatment; monitor patient's hormone levels and adjust treatment as needed|
|Licensure or Certification||All states require doctors to be licensed; board certification in a number of endocrinology sub-specialties is available|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||7% for all physicians and surgeons*|
|Median Salary (2019)||$229,228**|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **Salary.com
What are the Responsibilities of an Endocrinologist?
As an endocrinologist, you would be considered to be a specialist within the medical industry. According to the American College of Physicians, a primary care physician would refer patients to you because many health conditions are caused by basic hormonal problems, such as low thyroid, and they can be treated by general internal medicine doctors (www.acponline.org).
You would usually treat more complex hormonal disorders, such as thyroid and other glandular cancers, severe hormonal imbalances, uncontrolled diabetes, genetic and pituitary dysfunctions, metabolic disorders and autoimmune diseases. In addition to diagnosing and treating hormonal disorders, you would assist in developing new treatments by conducting clinical studies and research.
What Education and Training Do I Need?
You'll need to complete your undergraduate degree before entering medical school; however, you are not required to have a science-related degree for admittance. It is highly advisable to at least take substantive life science courses, such as biology, to help prepare you for medical disciplines. Because admittance into medical school is competitive, related undergraduate degrees or courses may be considered favorable.
During your four years of medical school, you'll learn the foundational principles, techniques and protocols of general patient care. Upon graduating from medical school, you'll begin your training in endocrinology by participating in a three to four year residency program, also called an internship. Endocrinology is usually considered to be a sub-specialty within the fields of pediatrics, internal medicine or obstetrics and gynecology, so, you'll first train in the primary field that you have selected. In the latter part of your residency, you'll learn how to diagnose and treat endocrinology-specific hormonal conditions.
After your residency, you'll enter a fellowship program, which usually lasts 2-3 years and includes more extensive training in endocrinology. You'll also participate in clinical research and consultations. After you complete your training, you'll be required to pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) before you can practice medicine in the U.S. and/or its territories. Individual states have their own licensing requirements, so you'll need to refer to the medical board of the state where you choose to work for its specific licensing requirements.
What Salary Could I Earn?
As of 2017, Salary.com reported that the middle 80% of endocrinologists earned between $199,950 and $267,026. Your specific salary will be contingent upon various factors, such as your employer, geographic location and experience.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
Another option for physicians is a job as a family doctor. These physicians diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions, including endocrine problems. They may also refer patients out to specialists like endocrinologists. Alternatively, individuals may want to find another job in an endocrinologist office, such as a physician assistant. Although these professionals do not need an M.D. degree, they must hold a master's degree in order to practice.