An epidemiologist is a public health professional that collects and analyzes data in order to investigate patterns and causes of diseases or injury in people. They work in laboratories, offices, local governments, universities, hospitals, and health departments for both state and local governments. Epidemiologists also conduct fieldwork as they must gather demographic data and human samples for investigation of possible health threats.
Watch a video to learn what an epidemiologist does.
How to Become an Epidemiologist
A standard requirement for an epidemiologist is a master’s degree in public health that stresses epidemiology. However, you can obtain degrees in other related fields from an accredited college or university. Some epidemiologists go on to receive a PhD in order to teach at a college or university or conduct focused research. An epidemiologist’s coursework includes physical and biological science, public health, statistics, and math. Studies should also include survey design, statistical methods, and casual analysis.
If you continue past your bachelor’s to an advanced program, you would receive education in medical informatics, multiple regression, and other subjects. Some students obtaining their master’s degree must also complete an internship or practicum that lasts anywhere from one semester to one year. Sometimes, an epidemiologist holds two degrees. One in epidemiology and a medical degree. They normally would work in a clinical capacity.
Job Description of an Epidemiologist
An epidemiologist is a public health professional that monitors problematic areas for public health agencies to reduce the risk of negative health outbreaks such as infectious diseases, bioterrorism threats, or other areas of potential health issues. They discover ways to treat and prevent public health problems by directing studies, analyzing data, and communicating their findings to the public, other health practitioners, and policymakers.
An epidemiologist may identify people at higher risk through data collected in a demographic area. They investigate survivors of a particular disease with the goal of developing effective treatments for the greater population as well. He or she may collect samples of blood or other bodily fluids as part of their investigation. An epidemiologist is also responsible for supervising technical, clerical, and professional personnel. They should be skilled in communication, teaching, critical thinking, math, and statistics. He or she should also be detail-oriented.
Epidemiologist Career Video Transcript
Epidemiologists are like medical detectives, searching for clues to determine how and why people get sick. They look for patterns of disease inhuman populations and develop ways to prevent and control outbreaks. Epidemiologists collect data in many forms, then analyze and interpret it, using statistics to help uncover patterns. When they have enough information, they write reports and present their findings to government groups and the public.
Like any detective, an epidemiologist must sometimes go on location to find out more about the cause and effect of a disease in a particular community. They may conduct interviews to identify who is at most risk, and to develop explanations for how a disease is spread. They often publish important findings in medical journals, which may lead to beneficial new public health programs. Most epidemiologists work for government agencies such as the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or state health departments.
Epidemiologists also work at universities, hospitals, research facilities, and pharmaceutical companies. They may specialize in an area such as environmental epidemiology, emergency preparedness, or chronic diseases. Most enter the field with a master’s degree in public health with a concentration in epidemiology. From finding the cause, to advocating treatment, and improving health outcomes, an epidemiologist needs patience and persistence to support society’s well-being.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Epidemiologist.
National Center for O*NET Development. 19-1041.00. O*NET OnLine.
The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.