Doctors who specializes in the treatment of cancer are called Oncologists. If you want to join this field, then go through this comprehensive step-by-step guide. It will explain to you how to become an Oncologist in the U.S.

Should I Become a Oncologist?

If you have a high level of empathy, sensitivity and compassion, then you should think about becoming an Oncologist.

Since Oncology is a specialty within medicine, thus you will have to follow the same route that doctors follow. Take a look at the table below to learn about the basic training and education requirements for Physicians and Surgeons.

Education Required Individuals should have completed a doctoral degree.
Training Participation in a residency/internship program is compulsory.
Licenses/Certifications A medical license is needed.
Key Skills/Qualities Dexterity, Detail-Oriented, Stamina, Patience, Problem-Solving Skills, Communication Skills, and Analytical Skills are required.
Annual Mean Salary (2019) – National $203,450 – Physician and Surgeons (All Other)
Job Outlook (2018-28) 7% (Physicians and Surgeons)

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Outlook

The job outlook data for Physicians and Surgeons by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that ample job opportunities will be available for these professional in the future. The demand for these professionals is expected to shoot up by 7% from 2018 to 2028.

Steps to Become a Oncologist

If you want to launch a career in Oncology, you will have to clear the following stages:

  1. Pursue an Undergraduate Degree
  2. The journey to becoming an oncologist starts with enrolling in a 4-year long Bachelor’s program. In order to improve your knowledge of the medical field, you are advised to major in a science subject. Pursuing a science major will not only prepare you for medical school, but will also make the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) preparation a lot easier for you.

  1. Get a High Score on the MCAT
  2. Candidates who want to enroll in a doctoral program are required to pass the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). This test includes a number of multiple choice questions which the candidates have to answer correctly. If you want to pass this exam with flying colors, then you should solve as many practice questions and past papers as you can. It is advised to take this exam as soon as you complete the medical pre-requisites, so you have time to re-take the exam if you get a low score in the first attempt.

  1. Enroll in a Medical School
  2. After getting a satisfactory MCAT score, you can start working on your medical school application. You have the option of pursuing two types of programs: a Doctor of Medicine (M.D) program or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O) program. Both of these programs take around four years to complete. Once you have obtained the doctoral degree, you can enroll in the residency program. The length of residency program depends upon the specialization area – it can take anywhere between two to five years to complete the residency.

  1. Get a State License and Become Board Certified
  2. You should check your state pages to learn about the specific licensing requirements. Generally, individuals are required to pass a Medical Licensing Exam in order to get licensed. Moreover, you are also advised to become Board certified in your oncology subspecialty/specialty.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Oncologist?

If you want to become an Oncologist, you will have to stay positive, emotionally resilient and persistent. The process of becoming licensed is quite long, thus you have to prepare yourself to face many hurdles.

First of all, you need to acquire undergraduate education in a related field. After completing four years of undergraduate training, you will have to get admitted to a 4-year long doctoral program. Then, you will be required to complete a 2 to 5 year-long residency training program. Thus, all in all, it takes around thirteen years to join the field of Oncology.

What Are the Requirements for Becoming a Oncologist

In order to work as an Oncologist in the U.S., you will have to meet the following criteria:

  • Get a doctoral degree from an accredited school of medicine.
  • Complete a residency program in your area of specialty.
  • Pass the medical licensing exam.

How Much Do Oncologists Make?

Since BLS has not published separate data for Oncologists, therefore we will use the category of Physician and Surgeons (All Other) as our point of reference. It has been reported that the annual mean pay of these professionals was $203,450 in 2019.