In the face of the global pandemic, a legion of healthcare heroes has stepped up to save lives, treat patients, and develop solutions to protect our population. Among these professionals making a difference are epidemiologists. Key figures in addressing the pandemic crisis, epidemiologists are sometimes called “disease detectives” because of their skill in tracking the progress of a disease and identifying ways to combat it.
Epidemiologists hold a vital role in the greater field of public health, and are therefore highly compensated for their diligent work. If you are considering becoming an epidemiologist, rest assured you will be entering a field that is rewarding both personally and professionally. Learn about the epidemiologist salary potential, and job duties, below.
What is Epidemiology?
Epidemiology is the study of how and when diseases occur in different populations, and why. Information gleaned in this study can be used to plan and assess strategies to prevent and treat disease. Additionally, epidemiology can be used to measure and study the ways in which disease can impact certain at-risk populations. Clinical study in the field of epidemiology focuses primarily on groups of people, though clinical observations are conducted on individuals. An important facet of epidemiological study is rigorous standardization in investigative methods. This quality control helps to guarantee that the results of epidemiological studies are valid and usable.
What Does an Epidemiologist Do?
As mentioned earlier, epidemiologists are sometimes called “disease detectives.” They systematically collect information and investigate disease by asking “who is sick,” “what are their symptoms,” “when did they get sick,” and “where could they have been exposed.” Epidemiologists use statistical analysis to address these questions and find answers to the most pressing issues surrounding disease. They are also able to identify new diseases that have never been seen before, such as SARS, and the microorganisms and viruses that cause them. Through their study of disease, epidemiologists are able to make recommendations as to how best to prevent contracting the disease and how to treat the illness. They may plan and manage studies of health problems, collect and analyze samples of blood and other bodily fluids to find the causes of disease, and communicate their findings to doctors and policy makers. They may also work with community health organizations to educate the public on how to avoid disease and live healthily. Depending on their place of employment, they may also write grant proposals to help fund their research.
Epidemiologists most frequently work in the fields of public health and research. They may also work for state and local governments to address public health programs through education. Epidemiologists who work in the private sector may do research for health insurance and pharmaceutical companies.
How Much Does an Epidemiologist Make?
An epidemiologist’s salary depends on a variety of factors, including where they work and how much experience they have. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, epidemiologists earn an average of $74,560 annually across the nation. However, there is potential to earn more. For example, epidemiologists who work for the federal government can earn over $100,000 per year. Some titles that epidemiologists may use include Medical Epidemiologist, Pharmaceutical Epidemiologist, Infectious Disease Epidemiologist, Field Epidemiologist, or Molecular Epidemiologist.
The epidemiologist salary also varies by the state in which you work. For example, in Connecticut, earn an average salary of $89,450 per year – well above the national average.
Experts in epidemiology can also work in a variety of related fields, including grant writing, research, pharmaceuticals, and medicine, sometimes resulting in higher paid positions. Whatever industry interests you, the job outlook for epidemiologists is good, with a predicted increase in employment of 30% over the next ten years.
Epidemiologists are experts in their field who can stop an epidemic from becoming a pandemic. They can educate the public, assist doctors in understanding disease, and even develop strategies to target illnesses. This important work comes with high pay potential, as you can see above.
Of course, no one becomes an epidemiologist overnight. In order to start earning as an epidemiologist, you must invest in your education. Specifically, you must earn a master’s degree in Public Health.
How Do You Become an Epidemiologist?
Those interested in pursuing a career in epidemiology must earn a master’s degree, at minimum, to work in the field. This graduate study can be in a variety of areas, such as health or epidemiology. Most choose to earn a master’s degree in Public Health (MPH). In addition to earning a master’s degree, some may continue their studies by earning a doctorate.
During the course of their graduate study, future epidemiologists will take MPH courses such as:
- Public Health
- Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases
- Global Health Issues
- Urban Health and Social Policy
- Public Health Law
- Environmental Health
- Principles of Epidemiology
Graduate students at University of Bridgeport are able to choose an area of concentration for their studies, which can impact which courses they take. These areas of concentration include Global Health, Community Health, Health Policy and Management.
Interested in a career in epidemiology? A master’s degree in Public Health is a great next step for you. Learn more about University of Bridgeport’s MPH program, here!