Immunologists are medical specialists who play a major role in the investigation of conditions affecting the human immune system. They will work to diagnose any problems and recommend treatment to improve or enable patients to manage their medical condition. One such condition they would investigate is allergies, of which there is no total cure. They would also play a part in the diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune diseases and even the process of organ transplants.

An immunologist can choose to specialise in one area of the immune system, such as allergies, which will have an affect upon the range of patients they treat. Such specialists would typically work as part of a team of pathologists. Immunologists work in hospitals and clinical testing labs, and can also be found in industrial research settings. Finding better ways to treat conditions that affect the immune system is one arena of this speciality.

Work activities

Typical work activities an immunologist would need to carry out include:

  • Follow strict guidelines during the testing of samples.
  • Use their extensive knowledge to interpret results and recommend treatment.
  • Possibly carry out research for publication.
  • Attend scientific conferences in order to remain up-to-date with advances and possibly play a part in such exhibitions.
  • Use specialist computers and tools to carry out testing.
  • Treat patients face-to-face, rather than just through systematic testing.
  • Work alongside laboratory staff, and also communicate with other medical staff including doctors and nurses.
  • Help to diagnose, manage and treat conditions affecting the immune system.
  • Possibly work as a consultant travelling around the country to offer your expertise on conditions affecting the immune system. You would need years of experience to achieve such a position.
  • Work in general hospitals and also possibly with private organisations.
  • Carry out routine daily testing.

Essential skills

  • Organised and professional manner.
  • Ability to work as part of a team and as an individual.
  • Self-motivated.
  • Attention to detail, as medical conditions will not always jump out at you when testing samples.
  • Extensive knowledge of and an aptitude for the sciences and medicine.
  • Continue to study throughout your career in order to keep up-to-date with any advances.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • IT competent.
  • Work under stressful conditions on occasion.
  • Work in a role in which your interpretations can have a great affect upon the lives of patients.