What Education Do You Need for a Career in Oncology?


Quick Answer

Oncology doctors must have a medical doctor degree, serve in an oncology fellowship program and pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination. After completing all residency requirements, oncology doctors must become board-certified by the American Board of Medical Specialists and undergo periodic renewal examinations to maintain this speciality. These training requirements ensure oncology doctors, whether surgical, medical or radiation doctors, have hands-on experience with patients and understand specific treatment procedures for multiple types of cancer.

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Other oncology professionals include radiation therapists, oncology nurses and oncology nurse practitioners. Radiation therapists require a bachelor's degree in radiation therapy. These professionals work in teams that deal directly with patients, helping to explain treatment options, administer cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and monitor patients undergoing treatment. While projected job growth for oncology doctors from 2012 to 2022 is 18 percent, growth for radiation therapists sits at 24 percent. Doctors make upwards of $232,376 in the field, while radiation therapists make around $80,090, as of 2015.

Oncology nurses must have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and a special oncology certification; oncology nurse practitioners must have the same credentials in addition to a Master of Science in Nursing degree and 500 hours of supervised clinical practice. These professionals provide education and care for cancer patients and their family members. Other job duties include administering chemotherapy and managing its side effects. This field expects considerable growth in the next 10 years, with current median salaries at $65,470.

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