Difference Between Allergist & Immunologist

Jun 08, 2020

Comparing Allergists to Immunologists

The work that allergists and immunologists do can be so closely related that many employers hire the same person as their allergy and immunology specialist; however, it is possible to focus specifically on one aspect of this field. While allergists often focus specifically on diagnosing and treating patients with allergies, immunologists may concentrate more on medical research and treat patients with immune system problems.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2020) Job Outlook (2018-2028)*
Allergists Medical Degree $185,659 (for allergist-immunologists)** 8% (for physicians and surgeons, all other)
Immunologists Medical Degree $185,659 (for allergist-immunologists)** 8% (for physicians and surgeons, all other)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **

Responsibilities of Allergists vs. Immunologists

Some allergists and immunologists share the same general tasks. They both see patients and use medical tests and examinations to diagnose conditions. They may also prescribe medications and discuss the diagnosis with the patient and their family. Those who specialize in research will spend time in laboratories performing tests and assessing results. Their objective is to understand specific allergies or conditions affecting the immune system, or to find ways to effectively treat those illnesses.


Allergists focus on working with patients who are suffering from allergic reactions. After earning a medical degree, they are required to complete a residency and fellowship and earn a medical license. Board certification is also required. Since they spend a lot of time working with patients, allergists should be compassionate and have good people skills. They may work in clinics, hospitals or other medical facilities. Those who have their own office may work primarily during the day, while those who work for hospitals or other locations may also work evening and weekend hours.

Job responsibilities of an allergist include:

  • Reviewing the medical history of their patients
  • Determining what medical tests are needed
  • Providing a diagnosis
  • Reviewing treatment options with patients
  • Informing patients about how to prevent or manage their allergic reactions
  • Updating patients' medical files


Immunologists are medical doctors who have specialized in immunology. They may focus on research or clinical work. As medical doctors, they are required to have a medical degree and license and to complete any certification, fellowship and residency requirements to be designated an immunologist. Those who work in research may primarily work in laboratories, while those who do clinical work may be employed in medical facilities such as hospitals or medical offices. Their work hours will depend on where they're employed, and their specific focus may require different strengths. Clinical immunologists need good communication skills to effectively work with patients, while research immunologists will spend more time using problem-solving and analytical skills in their work.

Job responsibilities of an immunologist include:

  • Studying specific illnesses that affect the immune system
  • Performing tests on medications
  • Determining which treatments are most effective for different conditions
  • Assessing patients
  • Prescribing a treatment plan or medication
  • Educating patients about their condition

Related Careers

Another career option for those interested in being allergists is to become a thoracic medicine specialist, since they also treat people with breathing issues. Those considering immunology may also be interested in becoming medical scientists, since medical scientists focus on researching medical treatments.

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