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What Can I Do with a Degree in Immunology?

A bachelor's degree in immunology qualifies graduates for entry-level work in clinical labs. With a graduate degree in immunology, a person might work with patients in a clinical immunology career or focus on academia through teaching and research.

What is Immunology?

Immunology is a branch of biomedical science that deals with the immune system in all organisms. Physicians who focus on immunology disorders work with autoimmune diseases, hypersensitivities, immune deficiencies and transplant rejections. These physicians are called immunologists, and they are required to have advanced degrees in medicine as well as immunology, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Graduates with degrees in immunology can also choose an academic career, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI).

Important Facts About Immunology Careers

ImmunologistsImmunology Technologists
Median Salary (2018) $203,880$52,330
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 13% growth (for all physicians and sugeons)13% growth (for all medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians)
Work Environment Office or hospital setting, full-time schedule with irregular hours Laboratory setting, spend majority of time on their feet
Similar occupations Registered nurse, optometrist, dentist Biological technicians, chemical technicians, chemists and materials scientist

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Clinical Immunology Careers

A bachelor's degree program with specializations in immunology qualifies graduates to work in a clinical laboratory. Immunology technologists study the elements of the human immune system and its response to foreign substances, according to the BLS. Immunohematology technologists collect, type and prepare blood test components for blood transfusions. A Bachelor of Science in Immunology also prepares students for graduate school and advanced degree programs in immunology.

Students who aspire to work as physicians who focus on immunology will need a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree. These immunologists can work in clinical laboratory settings, studying the detection, diagnosis and treatment of disease. Immunologists may work in asthma-related fields or in HIV treatment and detection. Immunology is closely related to allergy studies, and immunologists may also detect and treat allergies.

Academic Immunology Career

Doctor of Philosophy degrees in immunology prepare graduates for academic careers in teaching and research. Academic immunologists work at teaching hospitals. Many academic immunologists combine research, teaching and patient care, reports the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. A doctoral degree in immunology is required for careers focused on immunology research. The American Board of Internal Medicine recommends a 7-year program that includes an internal medicine residency, immunology training and three years of research training for people who want to combine teaching and research.