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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.

Learn more about what an Epidemiologist does

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.

Epidemiologist Career Paths

Average Salary for an Epidemiologist

Epidemiologists in America make an average salary of $68,325 per year or $33 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $140,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $33,000 per year.
Average Epidemiologist Salary
$68,325 Yearly
$32.85 hourly
$33,000
10 %
$68,000
Median
$140,000
90 %

What Am I Worth?

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Epidemiologist Education

Epidemiologist Majors

13.0 %

Epidemiologist Degrees

Masters

43.8 %

Bachelors

43.8 %

Doctorate

8.9 %

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

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.

Choose From 10+ Customizable Epidemiologist Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Epidemiologist templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Epidemiologist resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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Epidemiologist Demographics

Epidemiologist Gender Distribution

Female
Female
64%
Male
Male
36%

After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among epidemiologists, 64.2% of them are women, while 35.8% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among epidemiologists is White, which makes up 56.5% of all epidemiologists.

  • The most common foreign language among epidemiologists is Spanish at 33.3%.

Online Courses For Epidemiologist That You May Like

Advertising Disclosure  The courses listed below are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the course, we may receive a commission.
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...

Health Data 101
udemy
4.3
(399)

An Introduction to Health Data for data analysts...

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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 California, New Jersey, Maine, and Washington. Epidemiologists make the most in California with an average salary of $102,513. Whereas in New Jersey and Maine, they would average $102,380 and $102,306, respectively. While epidemiologists would only make an average of $90,769 in Washington, 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. District of Columbia

Total Epidemiologist Jobs:
6
Highest 10% Earn:
$188,000
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

2. Maine

Total Epidemiologist Jobs:
2
Highest 10% Earn:
$182,000
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

3. Delaware

Total Epidemiologist Jobs:
6
Highest 10% Earn:
$151,000
Location Quotient:
5.02 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
Full List Of Best States For Epidemiologists

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