With a bachelor's degree in a biological science, those interested in the human body's immune system can pursue a career as an immunology research assistant. These positions are typically based in laboratories and involve designing, performing and analyzing the outcomes of experiments.
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An immunology research associate is a scientist specializing in the study of all aspects of the immune system, the body's defense against pathogens and microorganisms. Typically, the minimum requirement for entry-level technician positions is a bachelor's degree in a biological science, such as microbiology or biochemistry. Many aspiring immunology research associates pursue a master's degree. Professionals in this field might work in research laboratories at universities or hospitals, at medical laboratories, or in the pharmaceutical industry.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree at minimum; many have master's degrees or higher|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||16% for all medical and clinical laboratory technologists|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$60,520 for all medical and clinical laboratory technologists|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Research associates study autoimmune disorders, as well as immunology at the molecular, cellular and organ levels. The majority of work conducted by immunology research associates takes place in laboratory settings. They design and perform the experiments, then analyze the results. They work with cells, performing mammalian cell cultures and other procedures. They also may work with blood samples and isolate various subsets of blood cells.
While the minimum requirement for this career is a bachelor's degree, there are not many undergraduate degree programs in immunology. As undergraduates, most students pursue degrees in a related biological field. However, many universities offer Master of Science (M.S.) programs in immunology. In M.S. programs, students typically learn about the theoretical and experimental aspects of immunology. To lead independent research projects, immunology research associates require doctorate degrees. Individuals who hold master's or bachelor's degrees may find careers in areas related to immunology, such as research management or marketing.
Those who complete a doctoral degree program in immunology and obtain work experience in the field may increase their chances for advancement to supervisory and management positions. In addition to immunology research associates, those with significant experience may work as lead researchers, administrators or consultants.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Medical and clinical laboratory technologists, including immunology technologists, could expect a 16% growth in jobs from 2014-2024, stated the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In 2015, the median average salary for this profession was $60,520, per the BLS. Immunology research associates who have earned advanced degrees may be considered medical scientists; as of 2015, medical scientists (except epidemiologists) earned a median salary of $82,240, according to the BLS.
Immunologists are typically categorized as medical and clinical laboratory techs, or medical scientists, depending on their level of education. A B.S. in a related science field is sometimes adequate education, although a master's degree in immunology is more typical. Job growth in this field is much faster than average over the next several years.