Epidemiologists can be seen as medical detectives who try to research and determine the causes of illnesses and disease. Thanks to the work of epidemiologists, public health policies are made and disease management strategies are planned all across the world. In essence, an epidemiologist tries to find out how and why do illnesses and diseases appear, how they spread and what can be done to prevent them from spreading and reoccurring.

Job Overview

The work of epidemiologists is related to studying the causes of medical conditions and linking them to the responsible factors. They do this by collecting and analyzing data concerning public health issues and the behavior of the specific disease. They not only study the origin of diseases, but they also try to determine what is the mechanism of action of contagious diseases and how they spread, while also trying to stop them from transmitting and affecting the population, and preventing re-occurrences.

With more than 50 percent of the epidemiologists working for the government at different levels such as local, federal or state, their work is of great importance, although they rarely get any public recognition. Many epidemiologists are also employed in private research facilities or are employed by hospitals, universities or pharmaceutical companies.

A typical epidemiologist will work in clean and well lit environments, such as offices or laboratories, with work during the normal business hours, although there might be night, weekends or holiday shifts, depending on the situation. Although the work of an epidemiologist is normally considered low risk, there are some who might work with hazardous chemicals or pathogens.

The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts that the jobs for epidemiologists will have a growth rate 24% faster than of the average of all occupations. Individuals possessing advanced degrees might have a promising future with the chance of following many career paths.


The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics states that in May 2010 epidemiologists have earned a median annual salary of $63,010. The lowest 10% of epidemiologists have earned less than $42,360 while the top 10% have managed to earn more than $98,380. The highest paid epidemiologists were those working in pharmaceutical or medicine manufacturing industries.


In order to become an epidemiologist, one should obtain at least a Master’s Degree in a public health related accredited institution, although it is recommended that a program specializing in epidemiology is taken. A normal program in epidemiology will include areas such as immunology, toxicology, health service research and bio-statistics. Most positions as an epidemiologist in the fields of clinical or research require either a PHD. or a medical degree.

Training is usually done on the job, with its duration depending on the specific position and the prior experience of the epidemiologist.

An epidemiologist should have great listening abilities since interviews are routinely done in order to find facts that can aid in research. Also, critical thinking is mandatory since they have to analyze the data and find the appropriate connections.

Reviews & Advice

An aspiring epidemiologist should have great communication skills on top of having great thinking capabilities and being proficient in mathematics and bio-statistics. As an epidemiologist, you will be required to present technical facts and complex situations public policy officials and allow them to understand what your findings are about and how to transmit them forward to the public community.

An epidemiologist can work in a wide range of specialties related to various areas of study, which include  genetic, psychological, social and environmental aspects. Although working as an epidemiologist will not make you a VIP, you will get to research and discover many aspects that have great social significance. Remaining hidden in laboratories, epidemiologists obtain great satisfaction from their work.