Otolaryngologists specialize in the treatment of diseases related to the throat, nose, ear and related parts of the body. They are also commonly referred to as ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Specialists. Nasal congestions, hearing issues, ear infections and coughing are some of the conditions that they regularly deal with.

Otolaryngologists offer both surgical and medical care. In fact, otolaryngology is the oldest medical specialty in the country as per the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS). This guide provides valuable information for aspiring otolaryngologists.

Should I Become a Otolaryngologist?

Education Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO)/Doctor of Medicine (MD)
Area of Study/Major Requirement Medicine
License/Certification Required
Experience/Training Required
Key Skills Communication, Comprehension, Active Listening and Learning, Creative and Critical Thinking, Decision Making.
Annual Mean Salary (2019) $203,450 (Physicians and Ophthalmologists, Except Pediatric)
Job Outlook (2018-2028) 7% (Physicians and Surgeons)

Sources: O*Net Online and US Bureau of Labor Statistics
As an Otolaryngologist or an ENT Specialist, you will treat medical conditions in four primary categories. These are listed below.

  • Ears (nerve pain, ear infections, hearing problems, etc.)
  • Nose (breathing difficulties, allergies, etc.)
  • Throat (coughing, swallowing problems, etc.)
  • Head and Neck (head trauma, deformities, tumors, etc.)

Career Outlook

Between 2018 and 2028, jobs for Physicians and Surgeons will grow by 7% (higher than most other professions). Greater medical care demands of an ageing and increasing population will drive this employment growth.

Steps to Become a Otolaryngologist in the US

Following is the process you have to follow to become an Otolaryngologist in the US.

  1. Getting an Undergraduate Education
  2. First things first, you need to get a Bachelor’s degree. Medical schools accept a wide range of undergraduate majors. So, you can choose whatever subject you like at this point. Just make sure that all medical school prerequisites are being fulfilled. As per the American Association of Medical Colleges, the majority of medical schools demand that applicants complete course credits in biology, physics, chemistry and communication skills, etc.

  1. Clearing the MCAT
  2. After the attainment of a Bachelor’s degree, you need to pass the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) to get into medical school. Normally, candidates sit for the MCAT in their third or fourth year of undergrad studies.

  1. Enrolling a Medical School
  2. You will be in medical school for 4 years. At the end of it, you will graduate with an MD (Doctor of Medicine) or a DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) degree.

  1. Complete an Otolaryngology Residency
  2. Once you are done with medical school, it is time to join an otolaryngology residency program. It is usually a 5-year stint during which you will be trained by licensed and board-certified otolaryngologists.

  1. Get Licensed
  2. After the residency, you need to get your state license. All states have slightly different requirements. Candidates generally have to pass a standardized exam while also fulfilling some state-specific criteria.

  1. Earn Your Board Certification
  2. When you have the license to practice, you can take the certification exam of the American Board of Otolaryngology (ABOto).

  1. Sub-Specialty Training (Optional)
  2. After becoming a board-certified Otolaryngologist or ENT Specialist, you may want to consider training in a sub-specialty. Officially, the ABOto only offers certification in sleep medicine and neurology. However, if you want to “specialize” in one of the following areas, then you must undergo additional training for 1 or 2 years.

    • Pediatrics
    • Head and Neck Tumors
    • Balance
    • Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeries
    • Allergies
    • Rhinology
    • Voice and Swallowing

How Long Does It Take to Become a Otolaryngologist?

To become an Otolaryngologist, you will need 4 years for Bachelor’s education, 4 years for medical school, 5 years for residency, and possibly 1 to 2 years for sub-specialty training. All this adds up to about 13 to 15 years.

What Are the Requirements for Becoming a Otolaryngologist

You need to fulfill these requirements to make it as an Otolaryngologist in the US.

  • Completing a Bachelor’s degree.
  • Finishing medical school.
  • Starting and completing an otolaryngology residency program.
  • Getting the state license.
  • Becoming certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology (ABOto).

How Much Can I Make After Becoming an Otolaryngologist?

The public records of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that Physicians and Ophthalmologists (Except Pediatric) earned an annual mean wage of $203,450 in 2019.