How to Become an Endocrinologist

September 26, 2022


Reviewed by:

Jonathan Preminger

Former Admissions Committee Member, Hofstra-Northwell School of Medicine

Reviewed: 9/26/22

Are you considering a career in endocrinology? Look no further! We’ve created a comprehensive guide on becoming 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. 

Read on for our guide on how to become an endocrinologist, including the cost, decision-making factors, and more. 

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Becoming an Endocrinologist: Step-by-Step

This step-by-step guide will help you understand an endocrinologist’s educational path. 

Step 1: Complete a Bachelor’s Degree 

Before applying to medical school, you’ll have to complete a bachelor’s degree. Your major won’t impact your chances of admission. Just ensure you choose a major that allows you to complete medical school prerequisite courses. The typical prerequisites for medical school are:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Mathematics
  • English

Every medical school has unique course requirements. Although these are the most common courses, some schools may have more. The courses you take during college should also set you up for the MCAT.

Step 2: Take the MCAT

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

It takes hard work and time to prepare for the test. Consider contacting an experienced tutor for guidance if you’re concerned about achieving a competitive MCAT score.

Step 3: Apply for Medical School

The third step is applying to medical schools. Most U.S. medical schools use the AMCAS application and accompanying materials. If you’ve successfully passed the first rounds of screening, medical schools often request a video or in-person interview to make admissions decisions. 

Step 4: Complete an MD or DO degree

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

Most programs take four years to complete, with the first two years spent taking general science courses and the last two focusing more on hands-on skills.

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

Applying for medical residency programs is the next step. Because endocrinology is a subspecialty, you must attend a separate program first. You can choose a residency in pediatrics, internal medicine, or gynecology before moving on to an endocrinology fellowship program. Each residency program takes three to four years to complete. 

You’ll need to complete an ERAS application to apply for these programs unless a program has provided its own unique application. If a residency program is interested in your application, they’ll likely ask for additional application 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.” Once everyone's top choices are considered, the algorithm pairs each resident with programs on their list.

Step 6: Complete Residency & the USMLE 

After you’ve been matched with a program, you can begin practicing medicine under the wing of senior physicians. Residency is an excellent time to make connections, which are useful in securing a fellowship placement later. 

During residency, you’ll also have to take the USMLE Step 3. Completing the USMLE and residency means you’re ready to look for endocrinology fellowships. 

Step 7: Apply for an Endocrinology Fellowship 

Additional schooling for endocrinology is required. Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism (IM) fellowship programs are typically two to three years long. 

You can learn from experienced endocrinologists and build your network. Because endocrinology fellowships are relatively short, ensure you make the most of your experience. 

Once you’ve completed your 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

The last step in the process is obtaining your medical license. Most states have different requirements for medical licensure, meaning they’ll need to verify your documents, education, and exam results before granting a state medical license. 

It’s best to apply for state licensure in every state you intend to practice in to avoid delays later. 

What Does an Endocrinologist Do?

Endocrinology is the study and practice of treating conditions in the body’s endocrine system. As an endocrinologist, you’ll treat diseases related to:

  • Blood pressure
  • Metabolism
  • Cholesterol
  • Thirst
  • Hunger
  • Body temperature

Endocrinologists work with patients to 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. 

Endocrinologist Salary

The average salary for endocrinologists is estimated to be approximately $246,000. However, this number can vary depending on the state you intend to practice in, the company you work for, and other factors.

According to reported salary data from real endocrinologists, these are the highest paying cities: 

table outlining the highest paying cities for endocrinologists

Based on this data, New York is an excellent place to begin your career. 

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, it’s nice to know you have more options! 

Should I Become an Endocrinologist? How to Decide

Deciding whether or not endocrinology is right for you can be challenging, but we’re here to help! Let’s review 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, MD, 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, MD

Drive Over Dough

Endocrinology is not the highest-paying specialty. On average, endocrinology pays significantly less than other specialties. Due to the lower pay, job satisfaction may be low if you’re unsatisfied with your daily duties. You should only consider pursuing a career in endocrinology if you’re passionate about the specialty.

All In One

According to some endocrinologists, their specialty choice was informed by the job’s versatility. Dr. Joanna Spencer-Segal, MD, said 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 sub specialization through a fellowship program. Becoming an endocrinologist takes fourteen to sixteen years

FAQs: 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 to become an endocrinologist. After college and four years in medical school, you must complete a residency followed by an endocrinology fellowship. The time it takes to become an endocrinologist varies depending on your residency program.

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

Yes, endocrinology is a subspecialty, meaning you must complete a fellowship program after residency to become an endocrinologist. 

3. How Long Is an Endocrinology Fellowship?

An endocrinology fellowship’s length is two to three years. A medical fellowship is a unique educational opportunity that allows doctors to subspecialize and train under talented specialists after residency. 

4. How Much Does an Endocrinologist Make?

On average, endocrinologists make an estimated $246,000 annually, but your base salary will depend on numerous factors. 

5. Can You Specialize In Endocrinology In Residency?

The study of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism is a subspecialty, and there are no U.S. endocrinology residencies.

6. Is Becoming an Endocrinologist Hard? 

Becoming an endocrinologist required 14 to 16 years of schooling and a lot of hard work and dedication. While the path may not be easy, those passionate about endocrinology find it worth it! 

7. What Are the Education Requirements to Become an Endocrinologist? 

Endocrinologists must finish college, medical school, a residency, and a fellowship. Throughout this journey, you must take the MCAT, complete the USMLE, and finally obtain licensure. 

Become an Endocrinologist With Inspira Advantage

Endocrinology is a fascinating specialty and an excellent option for doctors who love science, puzzles, and problem-solving. If you’re interested in becoming an endocrinologist, ensure you consider your options and thoroughly research the specialty. 

Shadowing and talking to doctors can help you decide. If you’re in the process of becoming an endocrinologist and need help with a medical school, residency, or fellowship application, scheduling an appointment with an admissions expert can help. Good luck!

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