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Average Salary
$65,555
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
5%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
514
Job Openings

Epidemiologist Careers

An epidemiologist is a scientist who studies disease and other factors that affect public health. Although the public is most familiar with epidemiologists that specialize in infectious diseases, other epidemiologists specialize in injuries, maternal health, and other aspects of public health. Epidemiologists spend a lot of their time doing research. They analyze samples in labs and collect data on the frequency of certain diseases among different populations. However, epidemiologists don't spend all of their time with microscopes and data programs. They use their knowledge to advise governments and the public on public health measures. They may work with local officials to develop a pandemic response protocol or help private businesses implement wellness programs that will minimize workplace injuries.

Epidemiologists are usually required to have a master's degree in public health. Some epidemiologists are medical doctors that complete a program in epidemiology at the same time. Academic knowledge is not enough. Epidemiologists also need to have practical experience in the form of a public health internship or residency.

Epidemiologists earn an average salary of $60,681 a year. Most are not in this field for the money but for the satisfaction of saving lives.

What Does an Epidemiologist Do

Epidemiologists are public health professionals who investigate patterns and causes of disease and injury in humans. They seek to reduce the risk and occurrence of negative health outcomes through research, community education and health policy.

Duties

Epidemiologists typically do the following:

  • Plan and direct studies of public health problems to find ways to prevent and to treat them if they arise
  • Collect and analyze data—through observations, interviews, and surveys, and by using samples of blood or other bodily fluids—to find the causes of diseases or other health problems
  • Communicate their findings to health practitioners, policymakers, and the public
  • Manage public health programs by planning programs, monitoring their progress, analyzing data, and seeking ways to improve the programs in order to improve public health outcomes
  • Supervise professional, technical, and clerical personnel

Epidemiologists collect and analyze data to investigate health issues. For example, an epidemiologist might collect and analyze demographic data to determine who is at the highest risk for a particular disease. They also may research and investigate the trends in populations of survivors of certain diseases, such as cancer, so that effective treatments can be identified and repeated across the population.

Epidemiologists typically work either in applied public health or in research. Applied epidemiologists work for state and local governments, addressing public health problems directly. They often are involved with education outreach and survey efforts in communities. Research epidemiologists typically work for universities or in affiliation with federal agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Epidemiologists who work in private industry commonly conduct research for health insurance companies or pharmaceutical companies. Those in nonprofit companies often do public health advocacy work. Epidemiologists involved in research are rarely advocates, because scientific research is expected to be unbiased.

Epidemiologists typically specialize in one or more of the following public health areas:

  • Infectious diseases
  • Public health preparedness and emergency response
  • Maternal and child health
  • Chronic diseases
  • Environmental health
  • Injury
  • Occupational health
  • Behavioral epidemiology
  • Oral health

For more information on occupations that concentrate on the biological workings of disease or the effects of disease on individuals, see the profiles for biochemists and biophysicists, medical scientists, microbiologists, and physicians and surgeons.

How To Become an Epidemiologist

Epidemiologists need at least a master’s degree from an accredited college or university. Most epidemiologists have a master’s degree in public health (MPH) or a related field, and some have completed a doctoral degree in epidemiology or medicine.

Education

Epidemiologists typically need at least a master’s degree from an accredited college or university. A master’s degree in public health with an emphasis in epidemiology is most common, but epidemiologists can earn degrees in a wide range of related fields and specializations. Epidemiologists who direct research projects—including those who work as postsecondary teachers in colleges and universities—have a Ph.D. or medical degree in their chosen field.

Coursework in epidemiology includes classes in public health, biological and physical sciences, and math and statistics. Classes emphasize statistical methods, causal analysis, and survey design. Advanced courses emphasize multiple regression, medical informatics, reviews of previous biomedical research, comparisons of healthcare systems, and practical applications of data.

Many master’s degree programs in public health, as well as other programs that are specific to epidemiology, require students to complete an internship or practicum that typically ranges from a semester to a year.

Some epidemiologists have both a degree in epidemiology and a medical degree. These scientists often work in clinical capacities. In medical school, students spend most of their first 2 years in laboratories and classrooms, taking courses such as anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, psychology, microbiology, and pathology. Medical students also have the option to choose electives such as medical ethics and medical laws. They also learn to take medical histories, examine patients, and diagnose illnesses.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Epidemiologists must use their speaking and writing skills to inform the public and community leaders about public health risks. Clear communication also is required for an epidemiologist to work effectively with other health professionals.

Critical-thinking skills. Epidemiologists analyze data to determine how best to respond to a public health problem or an urgent health-related emergency.

Detail oriented. Epidemiologists must be precise and accurate in moving from observation and interview to conclusions.

Math and statistical skills. Epidemiologists may need advanced math and statistical skills in designing and administering studies and surveys. Skill in using large databases and statistical computer programs may also be important.

Teaching skills. Epidemiologists may be involved in community outreach activities that educate the public about health risks and healthy living.

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Average Salary
$65,555
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
5%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
514
Job Openings

Epidemiologist Career Paths

Top Careers Before Epidemiologist

Top Careers After Epidemiologist

Epidemiologist Jobs You Might Like

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Average Salary for an Epidemiologist

Epidemiologists in America make an average salary of $65,555 per year or $32 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $125,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $34,000 per year.
Average Salary
$65,555
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Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
San Francisco, CA
Salary Range69k - 132k$96k$96,017
Boston, MA
Salary Range66k - 129k$93k$92,796
Washington, DC
Salary Range65k - 123k$90k$90,193
Bismarck, ND
Salary Range64k - 117k$87k$86,896
New York, NY
Salary Range61k - 117k$85k$85,102
Olympia, WA
Salary Range62k - 113k$84k$84,198
$39k
$132k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
Epidemiologist Principal
Epidemiologist Principal
State of Minnesota
State of Minnesota
06/25/2021
06/25/2021
$70,92906/25/2021
$70,929
Term-Limited Drug Epidemiologist (#5218)
Term-Limited Drug Epidemiologist (#5218)
Colorado State
Colorado State
06/25/2021
06/25/2021
$58,05606/25/2021
$58,056
Epidemiologist
Epidemiologist
Unitedhealth Group Inc.
Unitedhealth Group Inc.
06/24/2021
06/24/2021
$94,50006/24/2021
$94,500
STD Epidemiologist (Epi1)-Non-Permanent (Doh5605)
STD Epidemiologist (Epi1)-Non-Permanent (Doh5605)
Washington State
Washington State
06/24/2021
06/24/2021
$62,74806/24/2021
$62,748
Epidemiologist 2 (Infectious/Chronic Diseases) (HC
Epidemiologist 2 (Infectious/Chronic Diseases) (HC
State of Connecticut
State of Connecticut
06/23/2021
06/23/2021
$62,21006/23/2021
$62,210
See More Recent Salaries

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Epidemiologist Demographics

Gender

female

56.6 %

male

34.6 %

unknown

8.8 %

Ethnicity

White

55.1 %

Asian

27.7 %

Hispanic or Latino

8.1 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

33.3 %

French

19.5 %

Arabic

6.9 %
See More Demographics

Epidemiologist Education

Degrees

Bachelors

42.8 %

Masters

41.8 %

Doctorate

9.3 %

Top Colleges for Epidemiologists

1. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$50,420
Enrollment
7,582

2. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

3. Yale University

New Haven, CT • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,430
Enrollment
5,963

4. University of California - Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$13,226
Enrollment
31,568

5. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$8,987
Enrollment
18,946

6. Georgetown University

Washington, DC • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,104
Enrollment
7,089

7. Vanderbilt University

Nashville, TN • Private

In-State Tuition
$49,816
Enrollment
6,840

8. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$59,430
Enrollment
8,216

9. Tufts University

Medford, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$56,382
Enrollment
5,597

10. Washington University in St Louis

Saint Louis, MO • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,399
Enrollment
7,356
See More Education Info

Online Courses For Epidemiologist That You May Like

Data and Health Indicators in Public Health Practice
coursera

Epidemiology is often described as the cornerstone science in public health. Epidemiology in public health practice uses study design and analyses to identify causes in an outbreak situation, guides interventions to improve population health, and evaluates programs and policies. In this course, we'll define the role of the professional epidemiologist as it relates to public health services, functions, and competencies. With that foundation in mind, we'll introduce you to the problem solving meth...

Surveillance Systems: Analysis, Dissemination, and Special Systems
coursera

In this course, we'll build on the previous lessons in this specialization to focus on some very specific skills related to public health surveillance. We'll learn how to get the most out of surveillance data analysis, focusing specifically on interpreting time trend data to detect temporal aberrations as well as person, place, and time in the context of surveillance data. We'll also explore strategies for the presentation of surveillance data and some of the complex legal elements that affect i...

Global Disease Masterclass
coursera

The Global Disease Masterclass specialisation aims to provide students with an overview of core health challenges and lines of epidemiological research being undertaken, across a range of infectious and non-communicable diseases. The specialisation begins by examining the global distribution of diseases and the major trends that we have seen in the last several decades. Simultaneously, we consider the data that are used to construct such estimates. We then consider the role of social determinant...

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Top Skills For an Epidemiologist

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 12.5% of epidemiologists listed data analysis on their resume, but soft skills such as math and statistical skills and communication skills are important as well.

Best States For an Epidemiologist

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as an epidemiologist. The best states for people in this position are New Jersey, Alaska, Massachusetts, and North Dakota. Epidemiologists make the most in New Jersey with an average salary of $94,836. Whereas in Alaska and Massachusetts, they would average $94,799 and $92,369, respectively. While epidemiologists would only make an average of $87,736 in North Dakota, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Massachusetts

Total Epidemiologist Jobs:
18
Highest 10% Earn:
$166,000
Location Quotient:
2.06
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. District of Columbia

Total Epidemiologist Jobs:
6
Highest 10% Earn:
$159,000
Location Quotient:
3.75
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Maine

Total Epidemiologist Jobs:
2
Highest 10% Earn:
$158,000
Location Quotient:
1.58
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Epidemiologist Employers

1. Henry Ford Health System
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$71,734
Epidemiologists Hired: 
12+
2. Washington State Employees Credit Union
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$58,292
Epidemiologists Hired: 
12+
3. American Cancer Society
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$77,687
Epidemiologists Hired: 
10+
4. Genentech
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$122,470
Epidemiologists Hired: 
10+
5. Kelly Services
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$36,066
Epidemiologists Hired: 
9+
6. University Physicians
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$62,136
Epidemiologists Hired: 
7+

Epidemiologist Videos