What is Epidemiology?

The field of Epidemiology is increasingly important to the overall health of the U.S. Becoming involved in this field can lead to many interesting positions that involve investigation, analysis, and partnership with Public Health agencies. The job duties that are present within this field are typically relevant to the type of Epidemiology position that a professional upholds, and can consist of many different daily tasks. If you are interested in learning more about what this career entails, read along in our guide below. Our team of educational experts has over a decade of experience researching educational programs and careers. Take a look at the information they have provided.

In the event of Public Health hazards or situations, Epidemiologists step in to determine what is causing the issue and the best way to solve it. While this seems like a simple question and answer scenario, there is actually a lot that goes into this career field. At the onset of a problem, Epidemiologists may initiate testing to find the source of the issue. This process may involve conducting interviews within affected individuals, taking samples to be tested within a laboratory, and developing a hypothesis regarding the cause of the problem.

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What Do Epidemiologists Do?

Once data has been gathered, Epidemiologists may then test and analyze the information they have been given in order to obtain answers. The information that is gained through this type of testing can then be shared with healthcare organizations or local government officials so that a plan can be implemented. In areas of research, Epidemiologists may work to determine what age groups or sectors of society are more susceptible to different illnesses or disease, so that prevention plans can be put into place. The work that Epidemiologists do can contribute to Public Health programming and prevention plans throughout local society.

A Day in the Life

The standard Epidemiologist may work within a small office setting or spend time in the laboratory. Since there is some fieldwork required in this field, Epidemiologists may also spend time traveling to different places in order to take samples or conduct interviews with those that are relevant to their studies. Depending on whether Epidemiologists are involved in solving current health dilemmas or research, their daily duties can vary greatly.

Some Epidemiologists can work for local or state government agencies that are concerned with Public Health, research laboratories that work to solve some of the most influential health problems, education, or pharmaceutical research. Each of these positions can lead to daily investigations and laboratory work that is relevant to individual health.

Typical Job Duties

  • Communicating with local healthcare agencies regarding infectious disease control
  • Developing a hypothesis and starting testing in response to a vital health-related dilemma
  • Conducting tests and analysis of data collected during the investigation period
  • Analyzing results to determine a cause
  • Communicating findings to local healthcare agencies or local government
  • Analyzing populations to determine susceptibility of disease
  • Providing insight into the origination of disease
  • Assisting in the creation of prevention programs
  • Reviewing the effectiveness of prevention programs
  • Working as a consultant to agencies faced with disease-related issues

Jobs and Salaries for an Epidemiologist

If you want to be an Epidemiologist, you have many different options in terms of where you work and the types of populations you can work with. Depending on what types of interests you have, you may find that one specialty field is more fitting for you than some of the others. The list below can show you what types of jobs you could pursue by obtaining a degree in Epidemiology. According to the BLS, the average Epidemiologist in the U.S. can earn around $70,820 per year in their position (BLS).

  • Infectious Disease Epidemiologist
  • Medical Epidemiologist
  • Research Epidemiologist
  • Field Epidemiologist
  • Pharmaceutical Epidemiologist
  • Molecular Epidemiologist
  • Maternal and Child Health Epidemiologist

Top Skills for an Epidemiologist

Wanting to pursue a career in Epidemiology is a great desire. Those that enter into this field make up a huge part of what makes communities safe for people to live in. However, this field is highly scientific in nature and calls upon individuals that have a diverse set of skills that can help them throughout their careers. People that want to become a part of this field should have a love and understanding of science. During research and investigations, it is important that Epidemiologists be able to use and analyze scientific properties in order to find the answers they are looking for.

In addition to being familiar with science, professionals in this field should also have the ability to think critically under pressure. Some of the world's health dilemmas often give no notice. When an Epidemiologist is called into action, work must begin immediately and provide quick results. If you have the ability to maintain your composure under pressure, you could be a great fit for investigative Epidemiology positions.

Complex problem solving skills and decision making are also important skills for Epidemiology professionals. Often in a day's work, those working in this field can be confronted with difficult decisions or problems that require intense mental focus. Throughout the research process, professionals must also consult their own knowledge to determine the next step or to identify the cause of different problems. As Epidemiologists, professionals are usually expected to work diligently to find the answers to many different unknowns. Having what it takes to stay focused and find answers can help you become an asset in this field.

Typical Degree Requirements for Epidemiology

Now that you know more about what it is like to be involved with the field of Epidemiology, you may want to learn more about the degree it will take to get you there. Epidemiologists must have a minimum of a master's degree in order to become a part of this incredible field. Some students choose to pursue degree programs such as the MPH - Epidemiology in order to learn more about Public Health policy and regulations surrounding their work. This degree program can also help students learn more about planning and directing prevention programs, which are a huge part of preventing widespread disease and illness within their community.

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