Contact us

Chat with us

Phone: 13 64 64 or (08)9224 6500
TTY: 08 9225 7831
(Hearing impaired only)
Site search



Occupation search

Occupation Search


Back to top

Summary of occupation

A rheumatologist is a specialist physician who diagnoses and treats diseases of the joints, muscles and bones. Common rheumatic diseases include arthritis, tendonitis and osteoporosis. Rarer diseases include lupus, myositis and scleroderma.

There are over 100 types of rheumatic diseases, some of these are very serious and can be difficult to diagnose and treat.

​There are approximately 22 rheumatologists practising in Western Australia, all of who are based in the metropolitan area.

ANZSCO description: Investigates, diagnoses and treats diseases,  injuries and deficiencies of human joints, muscles and soft tissue.  Registration or licensing is required.
Alternative names: Consultant Physician, Medical Specialist
Specialisations: Paediatric rheumatology, Rehabilitation medicine
Job prospects: Average
Back to top

Knowledge, skills and attributes

A rheumatologist needs:

  • good general medical knowledge and proficiency in rheumatic medicine
  • to be interested in helping people with disorders of the joints and all rheumatic diseases
  • to enjoy finding solutions to problems
  • a broad and empathetic approach as often the conditions have psychosocial ramifications
  • excellent communication skills to liaise with other physicians and provide clear information to patients
  • stamina to work long hours
  • emotional strength and maturity
  • strong ethics
Back to top

Working conditions

Rheumatologists usually work regular office hours with occasional longer hours including evening and weekend work.

A typical day involves seeing outpatients and spending time doing paperwork. The role can be emotionally demanding yet rewarding.

Rheumatology is an opportunity to practise clinical medicine in its broadest sense however it can sometimes be regarded as having a low profile compared to cardiology and oncology.

Back to top

Salary details

On average, rheumatologists can earn between $2 692.31 and $3 461.54 per week ($140 000 and $180 000 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience.

Back to top

Tools and technologies

Rheumatologists should be competent in the use of a number of tools and technologies including:

  • radiographs
  • nuclear medicine
  • ultrasound
  • CT scanning
  • MRI
  • biopsy
  • electrophysiological testing
Back to top

Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a rheumatologist, you must first become a qualified medical practitioner and then specialise in rheumatology.

In Western Australia, postgraduate courses in medicine are offered by the University of Notre Dame and the University of Western Australia. These degrees usually take four years to complete. Entry requirements include completion of a bachelor degree in any discipline. You must also sit the Graduate Australian Medical Schools Admissions Test (GAMSAT) and attend an interview at your chosen institution. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

On completion of the postgraduate medical degree, you must work in the public hospital system for two years (internship and residency). To then specialise in rheumatology, doctors can apply to the Royal Australasian College of Physicians to undertake further training and ultimately receive fellowship.

Related courses

Back to top

Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

Back to top

Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

Back to top


Related links

Related occupations

Need advice?

Profile and social options