Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
CAREER DEVELOPMENT / JUL. 08, 2014
version 2, draft 2

How to Become an Epidemiologist

An epidemiologist is a detective whose responsibility is to conduct research on the causes and impacts of diseases and ailments. This is the research that enables the establishment of important information for disease management strategies and public health policies. By ascertaining why and how ailments occur, epidemiologists help curb the recurrence and spread of these diseases. If you have a soft spot for researching into queries of immense societal significance, then this career is fit for you.

What Epidemiologists Do?

Epidemiologists collect and analyse data about communal health and the behavior of ailments for the purpose of studying the connection between medical conditions and their agents. Additionally, they evaluate medical conditions that occur due to vulnerability such as food borne diseases. These specialists can work in various areas such as genetic, environmental, psychological, social and other diverse specialties of study. Their duties include:

  • Monitoring and reporting occurrences of infectious diseases to state and local health agencies
  • Planning and directing studies to examine animal and human diseases to policy makers, health practitioners and the public
  • Presiding over civic health programs as well as healthcare planning, statistical analysis, public health improvement and surveillance systems
  • Investigating parasites or diseases to establish risk factors and originators, mode of transmission and life cycle
  • Educating the public, patients and health workers about communicable and infectious diseases as well as their transmittal and prevention
  • Conducting research to come up with procedures, instrumentation and methodologies for data analysis, presentation of findings and medical applications
  • supervising clerical, professional and technical personnel

Some epidemiologists conduct fieldwork to collect analysis samples and conduct interviews. Even though traveling might expose them to infectious diseases, epidemiologists hardly suffer contagion.

Salary

Epidemiologists belong to the group that earns a comfortable salary. In 2012, their median annual salary was $65,270. Below is the list of the best paying cities for epidemiologists.

City

Median Annual Earnings

Oakland, California

$120,540.00

San Diego

$113,790.00

Denver

$110,740.00

Boston

$101,390.00

San Francisco

$101,390.00

Source: usnews

What Qualifications are Needed?

Epidemiologists’ responsibilities require them to exhibit communication prowess accompanied by statistical and mathematical skills. They are usually called upon to give explanations on intricate matters, hence need to have an explicit comprehension of their research and also be capable of communicating their findings to a wider audience. Other imperative skills include:

  • Problem sensitivity to recognise problematic issues
  • Written comprehension and oral comprehension to be able to comprehend written information and present findings
  • inductive deductive reasoning to provide sensible answers by combining ideas to form viable conclusions
  • Fluency of ideas
  • Speech clarity

 Professional Training

Relevant epidemiology coursework is inclusive of the following specialties:

  • Biostatistics
  • Public Health
  • Biology

Individuals with an interest to pursue epidemiology typically pursue a bachelor’s degree in biological science. however typical employer requires candidates who have secured a master’s degree in epidemiology. Candidates holding master’s degree are responsible of responding to outbreaks and conduct widespread field operations. Since the government is the largest employer of epidemiologists, those who have pursued a PhD program spend a large proportion of their time carrying out research in laboratory settings. Epidemiologists can access a number of advance opportunities since competition for the best paying positions is fierce. Having a masters’ degree with additional training and fieldwork will give a candidate a competitive advantage.

Career Prospects

Public health is a flourishing field. According to the BLS, employment opportunities for epidemiologists is predicted to increase 10% from 2012-2022. This is about the average growth rate for other careers as well.

The public health field is growing at a faster rate. A large number of individuals are pursuing this career due to the benefits it presents to them. However, the most important of them all is the improvement it causes to the nation and the community in terms of disease eradication. The fact that you can master a specific specialty in epidemiology is also an added advantage.

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