Doctor of Infectious Diseases: Salary and Career Facts

Research what it takes to become a medical scientist who researches infectious diseases. Learn about education requirements, job duties, salary and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Health Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information At a Glance

Doctors of infectious diseases, medical scientists and epidemiologists often hold a Ph.D. or Doctor of Medicine (MD), and conduct research on the symptoms and spread of transmittable diseases. Depending on the focus of individual careers, a doctor of infection diseases can be a medical physician or hold a doctorate in a relevant field. The table below gives some career facts for those interested in doctoral-level study of infectious diseases:

Degree Required Ph.D., sometimes combined with an M.D.
Education Field of Study Infectious diseases or epidemiology
Licensure None for standard medical scientists and epidemiologists; those who are also doctors need a medical license
Job Growth (2012-2022)* 10% for epidemiologists, 13% for other medical scientists
Median Salary (2013)* $66,330 for epidemiologists, $79,840 for other medical scientists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What is a Doctor of Infectious Disease Program?

Programs on infectious diseases generally award Ph.D. degrees. They focus on the study of symptoms, diseases and cures for diseases related to communicable parasites, viruses and bacteria. This type of program will teach you how to think critically, while performing your own research and laboratory work. You will also be exposed to the most recent research available from published scientists. Through this program, you may help to develop vaccines and other medications, with the goal of prolonging life and improving health.

Some universities offer medical residency programs and Ph.D. programs in epidemiology, a related area. Residencies may be offered dually with a Master of Public Health or a Ph.D. in Epidemiology. These types of dual-degree programs allow you to train as a medical doctor while also conducting research in public health and infectious diseases.

An infection disease specialist might also be a physician with a specialty focus on infectious diseases, especially cases that are difficult to diagnose or treat. These specialists would graduate from an M.D. program as an internist or pediatrician, and pursue a specialty in infectious disease following medical school and postgraduate training.

Many topics covered through infectious diseases programs are taught in specialized courses that focus on one area of epidemiology. Some of the science subjects you may encounter throughout your study are immunology, virology, parasitology, pathogenesis, genetics, molecular epidemiology and cellular basis for disease. To assist you with your research, you'll use readings in epidemiology, ethics, scientific writing, globalization, clinical trials, preventative medicine and other areas.

Will I Need Any Other Qualifications?

In order to qualify for admission to the Ph.D. program in infectious diseases, you will likely need to have completed a master's degree in a related field, such as biology, biostatistics or public health. If, upon graduation, you want to work as a laboratory scientist who works with patients, drawing blood and tissues samples, you must be licensed as such. Check with your state's board of health to find out what licensing requirements you'll need to meet.

M.D. programs require a Bachelor's degree in a relevant subject, such as pre-med or biology, though specific requirements vary program to program. A specialty in infectious disease will be pursued once you have completed medical school and necessary residency programs or other postgraduate training.

How Much Can I Earn?

Depending on the position you decide to take and what industry you work for, your salary will vary. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that medical scientists excluding epidemiologists, earned a median salary of $79,840 in 2013 ( The median salary in 2013 for epidemiologists was $66,330, reports the BLS. Internist physicians made a mean annual wage of $190,530 in 2014, while pediatricians made a mean annual wage of $175,400 that same year.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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  • Grand Canyon University

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