An epidemiology career involves the investigation and description of factors which can affect the development of a contagious disease, disability or other public health issues.
An epidemiology career requires a master’s degree in either epidemiology or public health from an accredited brick-and-mortar or online institution.
The coursework for epidemiology programs generally includes courses in Biology, Causal Analysis, Occupational Epidemiology, Society and Health, Public Health, Statistical Methods, Survey Design, Medical Geography and Biostatistics.
At the end of the coursework, you will need to submit a thesis in an area of specialization such as Genetic Epidemiology, Cardiovascular Epidemiology, Neuroepidemiology or Cancer Epidemiology. For advanced career choices or research and teaching positions, you will need to pursue a Ph.D. in your
chosen field within epidemiology.
You may also start an epidemiology career after attending medical school and receiving a dual degree in Medicine and Epidemiology.
Some responsibilities of professionals with an epidemiology career may include:
- Sharing research findings on different diseases with health practitioners, public and policy makers;
- Planning and implementing studies which look into causes, prevention and treatment of human or animal diseases;
- Identifying and analyzing public health concerns related to food and water borne diseases and their impact on policies;
- Educating healthcare practitioners, patients and the public about the transmission and prevention of contagious diseases; and
- Conducting research to develop methodologies, instrumentation and procedures for medical application.
Licensure and Certification
Epidemiology researchers need to be licensed physicians in order to be able to administer drugs during clinical trials. For professionals working in infection control and epidemiology, voluntary certification may be obtained from the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. (CBIC). This certification exam measures the skills and knowledge of individuals in the field and needs to be retaken every five years.
To work as certified infection control professionals, individuals need to pass an examination after taking up continuing education courses and certificate programs in Infection Prevention and Control and Applied Epidemiology conducted by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.
Salary and Job Growth
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual pay of epidemiologists was $63,010 in May 2010 while job prospects are expected to grow by 24% between 2010 and 2020.
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