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An epidemiologist is a public health professional who investigates patterns and causes of various diseases and injuries in human beings. The research conducted by the epidemiologists would inform the public health policies as well as the strategies of disease management across the globe. Thus, an epidemiologist helps preventing the spread of diseases and their recurrences by detecting why and how the diseases and illnesses occur.

Work Settings:

As an epidemiologist, you may work in any of the following work settings:

  • Government agencies – local, state or federal levels

  • Private research facilities

  • Pharmaceutical companies

  • Hospitals and clinics

  • Universities and colleges

  • Long-term facilities

  • Chemical and agrochemical companies

  • International development agencies

  • Non-profit organizations

Job Description:

Being an epidemiologist, you would typically do the following tasks:

  • Planning and directing studies on public health problems for finding ways to prevent and/or treat the problems

  • Collecting and analyzing data for finding the causes of diseases and other health problems including:

    • Observations

    • Interviews

    • Surveys

    • Samples of blood and other body fluids

  • Communicating their findings to:

    • Health practitioners

    • Policymakers

    • Public

  • Managing public health programs by:

    • Planning programs

    • Monitoring progress

    • Analyzing data

    • Seeking ways to improve them

  • Supervising:

    • Professional personnel

    • Technical personnel

    • Clerical personnel

  • Determining:

    • Modes of transmission

    • Progress of diseases and parasites

    • Lifecycles of diseases and parasites

  • Assisting in the design and development of:

    • Study protocols

    • Health status questionnaires

    • Sample selection

    • Analysis

How to Become an Epidemiologist?

Educational Requirements:

In order to become an epidemiologist, you would require at least a master’s degree in public health with a specialization in epidemiology. Most typically, coursework in epidemiology includes the following subjects:

  • Public health

  • Biological and physical sciences

  • Math

  • Statistics

Classes in epidemiology would emphasize in:

  • Statistical methods

  • Causal analysis

  • Survey design

Few epidemiologists would have a medical degree in addition to the degree in epidemiology.

Certification and Training:

For those professionals who are working within the infection control industry, a voluntary certification will be provided by the ‘Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. (CBIC)’.

As an epidemiologist, you could advance your career with continuing education and certification programs that are being offered via the ‘Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology’.

Job Outlook and Opportunities:

The number of epidemiologist jobs in the year 2012 was found to be 5,100. The job opportunity for epidemiologists has been projected to increase by 10% from the year 2012 to 2022. This rate is as fast as the median for all the occupations.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for an epidemiologist was found to be $65,270 per year in May 2012. This equals the hourly pay of $31.38.


Average Pay                                        :           $65,270

Education                                            :           Master’s degree

Number of Jobs, 2012                         :           5,100

Employment Growth from 2012 to 2022         :           10%

On-the-job training                              :           None

Work Experience                                 :           None