What Do Epidemiologist Do?
Epidemiologists determine the prevalence and health risk of infectious diseases to a predetermined population. Their job is to direct the organization of state public health investigations to maintain the general health of the population. Many of these jobs are available at various government organizations including state and local health departments and the federal government. In addition to these government jobs, some hospitals and medical technology companies also employ epidemiologists to monitor and supervision infection control or public health related responsibilities.Demand for epidemiologists is projected to increase in the coming years by 10% and offers a great opportunity for health scientists to serve their local, state, or federal community.
Epidemiologist Skills and Abilities
The most critical skills and knowledge for an epidemiologist include a strong scientific background in microbiology, medical health training and experience or education regarding public health administration. A solid understanding of microbiology allows an epidemiologist to be able to identify, investigate and understand the transmission and disease related characteristics of microorganisms. As an epidemiologist will work closely with health professionals during training or disease outbreak response activities, it is also important that they understand how health professionals care for and treat patients. Lastly, because epidemiologist usually work for government organizations, a background in public health administration will aid in their ability to direct government health inspectors and officials.
On a daily basic, epidemiologists are monitoring infections throughout the communities for which they are responsible. This procedure requires an understanding of statistics. You would also be responsible to communicate any findings to state and local health officials to help in infection control. As an epidemiologist, you would be responsible to teach and provide training to physicians and other health professionals to help them control and prevent infections. Some epidemiologists also engage in research for new procedures that help protect public health. Because of this constant demand for training and outreach, you need to gain significant experience in public speaking to be a successful epidemiologist.
Epidemiologist Tools and Technology
Computers and statistical software technology help epidemiologists take large data and turn it into useful public health information. Some of these programs include Center for Disease Control databases and software packages in which you can input local or statewide data to track disease incidence. Most states and local health divisions maintain their own computer databases to store their disease prevalence data. In some positions, you could utilize mapping software to create geographic representations of disease or health problem prevalence.
Education and Training for Epidemiologist
The typical education required to become an epidemiologist is a master’s degree. There are many epidemiologist training programs throughout the United States that act to provide comprehensive training after completing a bioscience or public health related undergraduate degree. Obtaining public health related experience while in a training program will help you to be more competitive for a job.
The median income for epidemiologists is about $67,000. At the lower 10% of the income spectrum, they can earn approximately $43,000. With more experience and education, epidemiologist had the top 10% earn above $110,000 dollars. As some epidemiologists manage large divisions or departments, the management classification greatly increases the income. Jobs in private industry will usually offer a higher pay but will be harder to find than government jobs.
Epidemiologists Jobs by Geography
The tops locations for epidemiologist jobs are the states with larger cities. These include Washington, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Texas. When you are looking for employment as an epidemiologist, you need to keep in mind that these jobs will usually be in public administration offices and larger cities will have more available options. In Florida and Kentucky, there has been a significant increase in the demand for epidemiologist in the upcoming years.