Healthcare & Medical
Epidemiologists are public health professionals who investigate patterns and causes of disease and injury in humans.
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.
As an epidemiologist, you would:
- monitor and report incidents of infectious diseases to local and state health agencies
- plan and direct studies to investigate human or animal disease, preventive methods, and treatments for disease
- communicate research findings on various types of diseases to health practitioners, policy makers, and the public
- provide expertise in the design, management and evaluation of study protocols and health status questionnaires, sample selection and analysis
- oversee public health programs, including statistical analysis, health care planning, surveillance systems, and public health improvement
- investigate diseases or parasites to determine cause and risk factors, progress, life cycle, or modes of transmission.
Key skills and interests
To become an epidemiologist, you would need:
- an aptitude for analysis and research
- good maths skills
- good reasoning and problem-solving skills
- good communication skills
- the ability to work independently or as part of a team.
Working hours and conditions
Most epidemiologists work full time and have a standard work schedule. Occasionally, epidemiologists may have to work long or irregular hours in order to complete fieldwork or tend to duties during public health emergencies.
Epidemiologists work in offices and laboratories, usually in government health departments, hospitals, and at universities. Some do fieldwork to conduct interviews and collect samples for analyses. Fieldwork may bring epidemiologists into contact with infectious disease, but it is very rare to become sick as a result of the contact.
How to become an Epidemiologist?
Entry Level Education
Epidemiologists need at least a master’s degree. 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 specialisations. Epidemiologists who direct research projects usually have a PhD in their chosen field.
Some epidemiologists have a degree in epidemiology and a medical degree. These scientists often work in clinical capacities.
Employment of epidemiologists is projected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Continued improvements in medical record-keeping will further improve epidemiologists’ ability to track health outcomes, demographic data, and other useful data. Improvements in statistical and mapping software will improve analysis, make epidemiological data more useful, and increase demand for epidemiologists.