Doctor of Infectious Diseases: Career Info & Education Requirements

Sep 21, 2019

A doctoral degree and completion of medical school, followed by a residency and an infectious disease fellowship, are required to become a doctor of infectious diseases. Infectious disease specialists research infections to identify the cause and cure. They may also work to prevent disease or contain an outbreak.

Essential Information

Infectious disease specialists are medical doctors who investigate difficult cases of infection seeking their cause and cure. They also are involved with preventing disease. Completion of medical school, residency, fellowship training, and licensure are required for those interested in this career.

Required Education Medical school (4 years),
Internal medicine residency (3 years),
Infectious disease fellowship (2 years)
Other Requirements Board certification available,
State medical license required
_Mean Annual Salary (May 2018)*_ $203,880 (for all physicians and surgeons)
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 7% (for all physicians and surgeons)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

Doctors of infectious diseases need nine to ten years of training in order to practice, not including any undergraduate education. This includes four years of medical school, three years of training as a doctor of internal medicine and two years of specialized training in infectious disease.

They also must pass a certification exam given by the American Board of Internal Medicine in order to be board-certified. Infectious disease specialists can become certified after two years of post-internal medicine training.

Career Options

The majority of infectious disease specialists finish their training in internal medicine while others train in obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics or other fields. The backgrounds of infectious disease specialists vary with a broad representation within the medical field.


HIV/AIDS is on of the largest healthcare crisis that the infectious disease specialists face. They are responsible for developing treatments for HIV and AIDS patients to increase their lifespan. They also work on the clinical aspect of HIV to help AIDS patients with their daily care.

Research and Government Agency Work

Infectious disease specialists are employed in public health organizations, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the National Institutes of Health (NIH). These agencies train doctors of infectious diseases and contribute to the development of research in the field.

The CDC emphasizes the epidemiology of infectious diseases, researching preventive treatment such as vaccines for diseases. The NIH is involved in clinical research. Infectious disease specialists are also employed by state and federal agencies in addition to international organizations like the World Health Organization and United Nations.


Infectious disease specialists may also enter private practice. They concentrate on patient care, antibiotic formulary selection and community health.

Healthcare Infections

Infections incurred in hospitals while receiving treatment for other conditions is another problem that infectious disease specialists attempt to solve. Epidemiology is devoted to preventing such occurrences, and infectious disease specialists lead the efforts in hospitals and other healthcare facilities towards stopping infectious bacteria that can cause harm to patients with weakened immune systems.

Pharmaceutical Companies

Infectious disease specialists are often employed by drug manufacturers to discover new drug treatments for infections. They are engaged in every stage of the development of the drug from conception and development to clinical trials.

Salary and Career Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a 7% increase in employment opportunities for all physicians and surgeons from 2018-2028, which is faster than average. The mean salary among physicians and surgeons was $203,880 in 2018, per the BLS.

After completing an undergraduate degree, it may take an additional nine years or more to become a doctor of infectious diseases. From 2018-2028, the job growth for physicians and surgeons is expected to be much faster than average when compared to all occupations, according to the BLS.

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