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Rheumatologist vs. Endocrinologist: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

Rheumatologists and endocrinologists are both medical doctors who treat patients with conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system and hormones, respectively. Both professions require a significant amount of education and training, and both can be very rewarding. However, there are some key differences between these two roles. In this article, we discuss the similarities and differences between rheumatologists and endocrinologists, and we provide helpful tips for choosing a medical specialty.

What is a Rheumatologist?

Rheumatologists are medical doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating rheumatic diseases, which are conditions that affect the joints, muscles, and bones. These diseases can be caused by a wide variety of factors, including autoimmune disorders, infections, and injuries. Rheumatologists use a variety of methods to diagnose rheumatic diseases, including physical examinations, blood tests, and imaging tests. Once a diagnosis has been made, rheumatologists can provide treatments that may include medication, physical therapy, and surgery. In some cases, rheumatologists may also recommend lifestyle changes, such as exercising and eating a healthy diet, to help manage the symptoms of rheumatic diseases.

What is an Endocrinologist?

Endocrinologists are physicians who specialize in diagnosing and treating disorders of the endocrine system. The endocrine system is a network of glands that produce and release hormones that help regulate many of the body’s functions, including growth, metabolism, reproduction and response to stress. Endocrinologists often treat patients with diabetes, thyroid disorders, growth hormone disorders, sexual dysfunction and menopause. They may also treat patients with rarer endocrine disorders, such as Cushing’s disease and Addison’s disease. Endocrinologists typically work in private practices, hospitals or clinics.

Rheumatologist vs. Endocrinologist

Here are the main differences between a rheumatologist and an endocrinologist.

Job Duties

Rheumatologists and endocrinologists share some of their job duties, such as evaluating patient symptoms, performing diagnostic tests and prescribing medications. However, the primary focus of each specialist differs. Rheumatologists specialize in disorders that affect the joints, muscles and connective tissues. As a result, they evaluate and treat conditions such as arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, Sjögren’s syndrome and osteoarthritis.

Endocrinologists focus on disorders related to the hormones produced by the glands in the body, especially those located in the pancreas. They evaluate and treat conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disease, growth disorders and pituitary gland problems.

Job Requirements

Rheumatologists and endocrinologists must first complete a four-year undergraduate degree in a relevant field, such as pre-medicine or biology. They then attend medical school for four years to earn their Medical Doctor (MD) degree. After medical school, they participate in a residency program that lasts three to eight years, depending on the specialty. Finally, they must obtain licensure from the state they plan to practice and pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination.

Work Environment

Both rheumatologists and endocrinologists work in hospitals, but they may also have private practices. Rheumatologists typically work in outpatient settings, such as clinics or doctors’ offices, where they can treat patients with milder forms of arthritis. Endocrinologists usually work in an inpatient setting, where they can provide care to patients who need more intensive treatment for their conditions.


Both rheumatologists and endocrinologists use medical skills to diagnose and treat patients. However, rheumatologists focus on diagnosing and treating conditions that affect the joints, muscles and bones, while endocrinologists focus on diagnosing and treating conditions that affect the endocrine system.

Rheumatologists use a variety of skills to examine patients, including physical examination skills, X-ray interpretation skills and laboratory testing skills. They also use these skills to develop treatment plans for their patients. Endocrinologists also use physical examination skills to assess their patients. In addition, they often order and interpret hormone tests to help them make diagnoses.

Both rheumatologists and endocrinologists need excellent communication skills to interact with patients and their families. They also need to be able to work well with other members of the healthcare team, such as nurses, physician assistants and pharmacists.


Rheumatologists earn an average salary of $227,663 per year, while endocrinologists earn an average salary of $212,344 per year. Both of these salaries may vary depending on the location of the job, the size of the company and the level of experience the physician has.


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