How to Become an Endocrinologist

October 11, 2023


Reviewed by:

Jonathan Preminger

Former Admissions Committee Member, Hofstra-Northwell School of Medicine

Reviewed: 10/11/23

Are you considering a career in endocrinology? Look no further! Here we’ve created a  comprehensive guide on how to become an endocrinologist. 

When choosing a medical specialty, you may want to consider a career as an endocrinologist. Endocrinology is a medical specialty in which doctors treat hormone-related conditions. 

If studying and working with the endocrine system sounds interesting, we’ve got you covered! Here we’ve created a step-by-step guide on becoming an endocrinologist, including the cost, decision-making factors, and more. Let’s get started!

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What Does an Endocrinologist Do?

Picture of an endocrinologist

Endocrinology is the study and practice of treating conditions in the body's endocrine system. The endocrine system comprises glands that secrete hormones to the rest of the body. These hormones are sent through the circulatory system to regulate target organs. 

As an endocrinologist, you’ll treat diseases related to blood pressure, metabolism, cholesterol, thirst, hunger, body temperature, and more. When the endocrine system is not functioning properly, your body can create hormone imbalances which can seriously impact a patient’s daily life.

Endocrinologists work with patients to help diagnose and treat long-term, hormone-related health conditions. Patients with thyroid disorders, diabetes, infertility, and other long-term health issues see endocrinologists regularly to maintain treatment. 

Becoming an Endocrinologist: Step-by-Step

A picture of a student looking at the horizon, thinking about becoming an Endocrinologist

If becoming an endocrinologist interests you, follow this step-by-step guide. If you struggle during the application, try scheduling a free consultation with an admissions advisor

Step 1: Complete a Bachelor’s Degree 

Before applying to medical school, you must complete a bachelor’s degree. During this part of the process, your major will not impact your chances of admission. Just be sure to choose a major that allows you to complete the required prerequisite courses for medical school. The typical prerequisite courses for medical school are:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Mathematics
  • English

Note that every medical school has unique prerequisite course requirements. Although these are the most common prerequisite courses, some medical schools have more course requirements while others have none at all. The courses you take during your bachelor’s should also set you up to take the MCAT.

Step 2: Take the MCAT

Nearly all MD-granting medical schools require an MCAT score for your application. The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a computer-based standardized test designed to assess the scientific knowledge, critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, and more of prospective medical students. 

To properly prepare for the test, you should take notes throughout your prerequisite courses. Consider contacting an experienced tutor to help you study for the MCAT if you are concerned about achieving a competitive MCAT score.

Step 3: Apply for Medical School

Now that you’ve completed your prerequisite courses and completed the MCAT, you can begin applying for medical schools. Most medical schools in the U.S. and Canada use the AMCAS application, submitted with application materials such as a premed CV, MCAT, GPA, personal statement, letters of recommendation, and secondary essays.

If you’ve successfully passed the first rounds of screening, medical schools often request a video or in-person interview to help them make their final decisions. 

Because applying for medical school is a long and challenging process, it may be a good idea to get some help. An experienced admissions consultant can help you to find your dream schools and present the best application possible. 

You can also try using the MSAR to narrow your school search to programs that best fit your needs.

Step 4: Complete an MD or DO degree

Congratulations! By this point, you’ve been accepted into a medical school program. You can choose to attend either an osteopathic (DO granting) or allopathic (MD granting) medical school to obtain your medical degree.

Most medical school programs take four years to complete, with the first two years spent taking general science courses and the last two focusing more on the specialty that interests you.

You’ll also take Step 1 of the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) at the end of your second year in medical school. The USMLE Step 1 exam is the first of three exams you must complete throughout your education to obtain medical licensure. Step 2 of the USMLE is also taken during medical school, typically at the end of your fourth year.

Step 5: Apply for an Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, or Gynecology Residency Program

Once you’ve completed medical school, it’s time to apply for medical residency programs. Because endocrinology is a subspecialty, you’ll have to attend a separate residency program before being able to focus your education on the field. 

You can attend a residency in either pediatrics, internal medicine, or gynecology before moving on to an endocrinology fellowship program. Each of these residency programs takes three to four years to complete. 

Unless a program has provided its unique application, you’ll need to complete an ERAS application to apply for internal medicine, gynecology, or pediatrics programs. If a residency program is interested in your application, they will likely ask you for additional materials and an interview

Once you’ve completed your interviews, you and your potential residency programs can move forward with the matching process. 

Using the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) system, you can create a “rank order list.” The list is used to name residency programs in order of preference. Residency programs also create their lists with the names of applicants. 

Once everyone's top choices are considered, the Match algorithm pairs each resident with one of the programs on their list.

Step 6: Complete Residency & the USMLE 

After you’ve been matched into an internal medicine, pediatrics, or gynecology residency program, you can begin practicing medicine under the wing of senior physicians. Residency is an excellent time to make connections, which may be useful in securing a fellowship placement later on. 

During residency, you’ll also have to take the third and final step of the USMLE exam. Completing all steps of the USMLE and residency means you are ready to begin looking for medical fellowships in endocrinology. 

Step 7: Apply for an Endocrinology Fellowship 

Once you’ve completed your internal medicine, pediatrics, or gynecology residency program, you can finally focus on endocrinology. The length of endocrinology fellowship programs is typically two to three years in length. 

You can learn from highly experienced endocrinologists and begin networking in the field during this time. Because endocrinology fellowships are only two to three years, you should take in all the information possible and make the most of your experience. 

Once you have completed your endocrinology fellowship program, you must pass the Endocrinology, Diabetes,& Metabolism certification exam administered by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM)

Step 8: Obtain a Medical License

After you have completed medical school, residency, and your endocrinology fellowship, you’ve also completed all three steps of the USMLE and at least two board certification exams. You’re well on your way to full medical licensure, but there is one final step. 

Most U.S. states have separate requirements for medical licensure, meaning they’ll need to verify your documents, education, and exam results before granting a state medical license. It is a good idea to apply for state licensure in every state you intend to practice in to avoid delays later on.

Top Skills for Endocrinologists

As an endocrinologist, several key skills are essential for providing quality patient care and excelling in the field. Here are some of the top skills for endocrinologists:

  • Communication: Effective communication is vital in explaining complex medical information in understandable terms and discussing treatment plans and expectations. Endocrinologists should be able to listen attentively, empathize with patients, and effectively convey information to ensure patient comprehension and involvement in their care.
  • Critical Thinking: Endocrinologists frequently encounter complex cases and challenging diagnostic dilemmas. The ability to think critically, analyze information, and develop innovative solutions is crucial in providing optimal patient care. 
  • Clinical Expertise: Endocrinologists need clinical expertise to diagnose and treat various endocrine disorders accurately. This involves a thorough understanding of symptoms, physical examinations, interpretation of laboratory tests, and the ability to develop tailored treatment plans for individual patients.

By cultivating and refining these skills, endocrinologists can provide exceptional care to their patients and contribute to the progress and innovation within the field of endocrinology.

Endocrinologist Salary

According to Indeed, the average base salary for endocrinologists in the U.S. is $269,245. However, this number can vary depending on the state you intend to practice in, the company you work for, and other factors.

The top-paying company for endocrinologists is American Medical, with an average endocrinologist salary of $325,619. The highest-paying cities for endocrinology specialists are New York (NY), Philadelphia (PA), and Baltimore (MD).

Below is a table of endocrinologist salary by state.

State Average Salary
New York $312,014
Vermont $281,920
Massachusetts $272,271
Nevada $272,156
New Jersey $272,049
Wisconsin $270,997
Washington $266,543
Wyoming $265,891
Oregon $265,779
Indiana $262,830
Arizona $262,746
Hawaii $262,434
Minnesota $262,033
New Hampshire $261,408
Pennsylvania $260,982
Georgia $258,283
Alaska $257,409
Iowa $252,317
Montana $252,075
Rhode Island $251,041
South Dakota $250,598
North Dakota $250,408
Connecticut $249,557
California $249,155
State Average Salary
New Mexico $245,433
Ohio $243,876
Illinois $241,572
Tennessee $238,705
Utah $238,318
Virginia $237,193
Maryland $236,927
Delaware $233,470
Colorado $232,637
Mississippi $231,757
Maine $228,204
Oklahoma $225,351
West Virginia $224,876
South Carolina $224,488
Kansas $222,788
Michigan $222,561
Alabama $222,041
Florida $221,804
Missouri $221,154
Texas $220,794
Louisiana $218,480
Nebraska $214,931
Idaho $214,363
Kentucky $206,550
North Carolina $204,967
Arkansas $203,103

Source: ZipRecruiter

This table has given you an in-depth look at what the average salary of an endocrinologist is.

Endocrinologist Career Outlook

The career outlook for endocrinologists is included in the Bureau of Labor Statistics projections for all physicians and surgeons. From 2021 to 2031, the projected employment growth of physicians and surgeons is 3%, slower than the average of other occupations. 

There are multiple endocrinology career paths, including: 

  • Research scientist 
  • Infertility specialist 
  • Behavioral endocrinologist 
  • Pediatric endocrinologist
  • Geriatric endocrinologist
  • Nuclear endocrinologist
  • Neuroendocrinologist

Although many students become regular endocrinologists, knowing you have more options is nice! 

Should I Become an Endocrinologist? How to Decide

Student wondering if she should become an endocrinologist

Deciding whether or not the field of endocrinology is right for you can be a challenge, but we’re here to help! Let’s review some aspects of the field that can help you decide.

Great for Puzzle-Lovers

One reason to go into the field of endocrinology is your passion for science. According to Endocrine Society past-president Robert Vigersky, M.D., endocrinology is an excellent choice for doctors who love a challenge. The field requires extreme attention to detail and a love of problem-solving. 

“I chose endocrinology because it was and still is the medical specialty that presents the ultimate challenge in putting an understanding of biochemistry, cell biology, and genetics directly into patient care.” - Dr. Robert Vigersky, M.D.

Drive over Dough

Endocrinology is not the highest-paying specialty. In fact, on average, endocrinology pays significantly less than other specialties, such as cardiology. Due to the lower pay, job satisfaction may be low if you are not satisfied with your daily duties. 

You should only consider pursuing a career in endocrinology if you are passionate about the specialty and the type of work involved.

All In One

According to some endocrinologists, their choice of specialty was informed by the versatility of the job. According to Dr. Joanna Spencer-Segal, M.D., she chose an endocrinology specialty program because of the combination of clinical and basic science knowledge required.

“As a neuroscientist, I like that endocrinologists must consider the integration of all of the body’s systems including the brain, with hormones as messengers.” states Dr. Spencer-Segal. “To me this was preferable to a subspecialty focused on just one organ system.” 

Years to Become an Endocrinologist

As mentioned above, becoming an endocrinologist means you’ll have to sub-specialize through a fellowship program. This means that on top of the four years in a bachelor’s degree, four years in medical school, and four to six years in a residency program. 

You’ll also need to take additional two-to-three years of education to become an endocrinologist. Becoming an endocrinologist takes fourteen to sixteen years of education in total. 

FAQ: How to Become an Endocrinologist

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about how to become an endocrinologist. 

1. How Long Does It Take to Become an Endocrinologist?

It takes fourteen to sixteen years of schooling and training for endocrinologists. After your bachelor’s degree and four years in medical school, you must complete an internal medicine, gynecology, or pediatrics residency followed by an endocrinology fellowship program. 

The total time to become an endocrinologist varies depending on the residency program you choose.

2. Do You Need to Complete a Fellowship Program to Become an Endocrinologist?

Yes, endocrinology is a sub-specialty, meaning you must complete a two-to-three-year fellowship program after residency to become an endocrinologist. 

3. What Diseases Do Endocrinologists Treat?

Endocrinology deals with the endocrine system, which comprises glands that secrete hormones throughout the body. Endocrinologists treat hormone-related diseases such as diabetes, infertility, metabolism issues, hypoglycemia, thyroid-related diseases, etc. 

4. How Long Is an Endocrinology Fellowship?

Endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism fellowship programs are typically two to three years long. A medical fellowship is a unique educational opportunity that allows doctors to subspecialize and train under-talented specialists in their field after residency. 

An endocrinology fellowship is just one of the many Educational requirements for endocrinologists to complete.

5. How Much Do Endocrinologists Make?

On average, endocrinologists make $269,245 per year in the United States. The highest-paying cities for endocrinologists are New York (NY), Philadelphia (PA), and Baltimore (MD).

6. Can You Specialize In Endocrinology In Residency?

The study of endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism is a sub-specialty that requires a fellowship program. To become an endocrinologist, doctors must complete a residency program in internal medicine, gynecology, or pediatrics.

7. How Competitive is an Endocrinology Fellowship?

Endocrinology fellowships are generally considered to be moderately competitive. The level of competitiveness can vary depending on factors such as the reputation and prestige of the program, the number of available positions, and the number of applicants.

8. Is Being an Endocrinologist a Good Career?

Being an endocrinologist is an excellent career choice for those who have a passion for the field of endocrinology. It offers the opportunity to positively impact patients' lives by diagnosing and treating hormonal disorders. 

9. Where Do Endocrinologists Get Paid the Most?

The salary of endocrinologists can vary depending on various factors such as geographical location, years of experience, practice setting, and local demand for endocrinology services.

However, in the U.S., endocrinologists in New York are the highest paid, with an annual salary of $312,014

Final Thoughts

Endocrinology is a fascinating specialty and is an excellent option for doctors who love science, puzzles, and problem-solving. Be sure to consider all your options and thoroughly research the specialty. 

Shadowing can help you decide and talk to doctors in the field. If you are in the process of becoming an endocrinologist and need help with a medical school, residency, or fellowship application, be sure to schedule an appointment with an admissions expert. Good luck!

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