How to Become an Allergist

November 22

Table of Contents

Allergies are a standard part of life for many of us, unfortunately. They can begin early in infancy and originate from the most essential things in our environment, such as dietary items and the physical environment. Fortunately, doctors specializing in allergies and immunology can help us. 

For other healthcare professionals interested in working with patients of all ages who have a variety of allergic and immunologic illnesses, allergy/immunology represents a vibrant, demanding career option.

By understanding the requirements, you can decide if being an allergist is the correct job for you. In this article, we will discuss how to become an allergist, what they do, how much salary they receive, and what the requirements to become an allergist are. 

What is an Allergist?

An allergist is a medical specialist who investigates, recognizes, and manages health issues brought on by allergens, a class of foreign substances to the body that can trigger an overactive immune response. 

Immune reactions frequently result in unpleasant or harmful symptoms, such as headaches or low-grade fevers.

By minimizing the effects of certain allergens or treating allergic reactions to specific stimuli, allergists work with patients to improve their quality of life. They focus on immune system-related illnesses. An allergist can help with several immune system issues, including:


Inflammation of the lungs' airways is asthma. Typically, factors in your immediate environment cause asthma episodes.

Allergic Conditions and Allergies

You start having allergies when your immune system overreacts to something you eat, breathe in (inhale), or touch.

Diseases of Primary Immunodeficiency

These genetic conditions prevent your immune system from functioning normally. Over 300 primary immunodeficiency diseases exist.

What are the Duties and Responsibilities of an Allergist?

There are many opportunities for allergists in research, education, and clinical practice. An allergist may treat both children and adults with a range of illnesses.

The list below details the different duties and responsibilities of an allergist:

  • Testing patient's lung capacity to identify asthma
  • Educating patients about diagnosis, prognoses, or treatments
  • Keeping up with new developments in the field of allergy and immunology
  • Encouraging a change in lifestyle to help prevent asthma or allergy triggers
  • Interpreting test findings for diagnostic purposes to generate suitable differential diagnoses
  • Advising patients on how to stay healthy while managing an immunological illness
  • Checking for food, pollen (from grass, trees, and weeds), pet dander, mold, and other trigger allergens
  • Prescribing drugs include glucocorticoids for inhalation, oral, topical, or nasal use, antibiotics, and antihistamines
  • Creating tailored treatment plans for patients, taking into account their choices, clinical data, and the risks and benefits of therapy
  • Providing treatments for immunological problems and evaluating the risks and advantages of medicines for allergy and immunologic illnesses
  • Compiling patient medical histories, doing physical examinations, and ordering or carrying out diagnostic procedures such as skin pricks and intradermal, patch, or delayed hypersensitivity testing

What are the Requirements to Become an Allergist?

The educational prerequisites to becoming an allergist are the same as those for physicians: a bachelor's degree and graduation from medical school. Four years of undergraduate studies and medical school are typically required for this. 

Excellent test results and extracurriculars that show leadership and a dedication to service are crucial. Any approved university that educates prospective doctors in undergraduate and medical fields qualifies as a college for allergists.

As per the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, all candidates must finish a two-year residency in internal medicine, pediatrics, or both. 

Following the completion of the residency, a two-year allergy/immunology fellowship is required to satisfy the remaining educational requirements for allergists.

The training program must hold American Medical Association accreditation to be eligible. 

After completing the course, the applicants must provide the American Board of Allergy and Immunology with documentation of their procedural skills and clinical competency assessments. Candidates must apply for certification within five years of finishing the specialized training program to be eligible.

How Much Does It Cost to Become an Allergist? 

To become an allergist costs pretty much the same as any medical specialty. The typical first-year medical student paid USD 38,947 for tuition, fees, and health insurance to attend a public medical school for the 2021-22 academic year, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The average first-year student at a private medical school paid an additional USD 61,023.

These data apply to students who are registered as residents at their respective schools. 

Residents' totals rose to USD 62,505, while non-resident students attending public medical schools paid a maximum annual cost of USD 91,599 for tuition, fees, and health insurance.

The cost of becoming an allergist varies per medical institution. However, the overall medical school cost would be the same as originally stated. We also recommend that you contact the medical school you intend to attend and inquire about the actual finances of their medical school program.

How to Become an Allergist?

It takes a lot of time and effort to become an allergist. But the outcomes might be satisfying if you are up for the challenge. Getting the necessary training and knowledge in the field is one step toward becoming an allergist. 

Here, we have listed the steps that you have to go through to become an allergist:

1. Choose Whether Allergy and Immunology is The Right Field For You

As a medical student or resident, you have many choices. Be sure to analyze all your options and consider the benefits and drawbacks of each before you decide on allergy and immunology. To gauge your level of interest in the program, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where do you envision yourself working later?
  • What aspects of allergies pique your interest?
  • Do you take pleasure in instructing patients on how to handle persistent problems?

Being an allergist demands passion and commitment, so you must know how you feel about it before applying. 

Speaking with experts, doing a job shadow, and volunteering in allergy and immunology settings are all fantastic experiences that will aid decision-making and look great on your pre-med resume.

2. Earn a Bachelor's Degree

In most American medical schools, applicants must hold a bachelor's degree. It does not necessarily matter what you studied for your bachelor's degree as long as you can enroll in the prerequisite courses for medical school. 

The typical prerequisites for medical school are:

Every medical school has different prerequisite requirements. To ensure you have enough time to plan your course calendar, you should examine the prerequisites for each of your target institutions two years before you apply to medical school

You will be better prepared for the MCAT by taking the required preparatory courses.

3. Take the MCAT (and Pass It)

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is required for admission to almost all medical schools in the US. Allow yourself three months to prepare for the MCAT and several months to retake it if necessary. 

Many students retake the exam to ensure their MCAT score is competitive. The maximum MCAT score is 528, and the typical MCAT score for US medical school applicants is 511

Look at the class statistics of your prospective schools to see if your MCAT score meets their requirements for competition.

4. Achieve a Medical Degree

You can enroll in a medical program and obtain your medical degree if you pass the MCAT exam. Along with your bachelor's degree, these programs usually take an additional three to four years.

With this curriculum, you can learn sophisticated medical concepts like patient care, biology, health care administration, and chemistry. It usually consists of classroom instruction and clinical rotations, where you can move through clinical training to get a close-up grasp of clinical procedures.

Diagnosing patients, questioning patients, and recording findings are a few examples of up-close techniques. This experiential learning opportunity can support traditional classroom instruction by tying together all the topics learned over the bachelor's program.

5. Finish Your MD or DO Degree

An approved osteopathic or allopathic medical school is where you can finish your DO or MD degree after being admitted into a program. 

Most four-year medical school programs include two years of general science coursework and two years that are more focused on your areas of interest.

Then, you must pass the USMLE. It assesses your understanding of medicine and ability to think critically, solve problems in a social setting, and follow medical procedures and policies. 

Each section of the USMLE exam is broken down into sets of multiple-choice questions, and the entire exam can take anywhere between six and eight hours to complete.

You can enroll in a residency program to progress toward obtaining the American Board of Allergy and Immunology (ABAI) certification after passing the USMLE.

6. Finish the Residency Program

Usually lasting two to three years, residency programs concentrate on teaching medical practitioners practical skills and information. 

You frequently collaborate with licensed doctors and other professionals to discover the intricacies of the job, cutting-edge theories, and methods to deepen your understanding of the medical sector and its practices.

You can make a rank order list listing your preferred residency programs in the order of preference using the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) system. 

After considering the residency program's top picks, it matches each resident with one of the programs on their list.

You can also look at the American Medical Association's online database as a resource when looking for residency programs.

7. Complete an Allergist Fellowship Program

You can enroll in an allergy fellowship program after completing your residency. You can focus on your area of expertise and develop your craft here.

Fellowship programs are incredibly competitive educational options for doctors driven to improve their craft. Your education on allergies starts here.

On its website, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) maintains a list of fellowship programs in allergy (and immunology). 

Make relationships, get lots of practical experience, and learn everything you can during this period. Since allergy fellowships often last only two years, it is essential to learn everything you can before continuing to the next stage of your career. 

After completing your allergy and immunology fellowship program, you must pass the American Board of Allergy and Immunology (ABAI) board certification exam.

8. Obtain ABAI Certification

To become a licensed allergist, consider participating in the ABAI certification program. 

The certification might demonstrate your expertise and suitability to work as an allergist.

Additionally, certification can assist you in landing a job at a hospital and provide credentials for a resume in the medical field. To stay current with advances in the area, you might also need to apply for recertification every ten years.

Important Qualities Needed to Be an Allergist

Allergists often possess a variety of abilities that enable them to succeed in their roles, including:

Medical Knowledge

When trying to comprehend how the body functions, how allergens influence the body, and how medical policies work, an allergist's skill set must include an understanding of medicine.


Having empathy will assist you in comprehending your patient's medical problems from a particular and intimate viewpoint. 

Empathy fosters compassion and can lead to deeper ties with patients.

Critical-Thinking Skills

Practical problem-solving abilities can help you handle challenging business situations or complex health difficulties. 

This ability is often acquired through clinical training and residency programs as an allergist.


Practical research and cooperation abilities, such as communication, can benefit an allergist when working on a project. 

To assist you in delivering accurate information, think about utilizing various research techniques.


Being compassionate might help you relate to your patients and comprehend how health issues affect their emotions. 

When working with patients, consider why they might decline or accept treatment alternatives.

How Much Do Allergists Make?

A job in healthcare frequently involves several steps and calls for a certain level of education, licensure, certification, and abilities. 

As one of the most in-demand healthcare professionals, allergists make a good wage while collaborating closely with their patients to enhance their quality of life.

Allergists currently make USD 274,000 a year. However, this sum could change based on your region, employer, and level of education. Between 2019 and 2029, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 4% increase in allergist jobs.

Additional FAQs – How to Become an Allergist?

How Long Does It Take to Become an Allergist?

In the US, becoming an allergist typically takes thirteen years. Your first four years are spent earning your bachelor's degree, finishing the MCAT, and taking necessary classes for medical school. 

After receiving your bachelor's degree, a four-year MD or DO program is the next step. 

The following three to four years will be spent in an internal medicine or pediatrics residency. An allergy and immunology fellowship, usually lasting two years, is the last step.

What is the Difference Between an Allergist and an Immunologist?

The term "allergist" is typically used to refer to an allergist/immunologist specializing in treating allergies, asthma, and other immunological disorders. 

On the other hand, an immunologist is an allergist/immunologist who focuses on studying the immune system or treating immunological illnesses.

Where Do Allergists Work?

Although you can work as an allergist in large hospitals, most allergists operate their own private offices alone or in groups. 

They put particular emphasis on treating each patient individually, running a battery of allergy tests, identifying immunodeficiency, and giving medication or other treatments to assist the patient in independently taking control of their illness.

Some allergists work at clinical research facilities where they investigate the root causes of these conditions to enhance techniques of diagnosis and care.

You're no longer alone on your journey to becoming a physician

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