Epidemiology

Epidemiology studies explore the cause, prevention and eradication of diseases that affect the human population. Learn about career possibilities and employment outlook as well as educational requirements and course topics.

Is Epidemiology for Me?

Career Details

Epidemiology is the study of diseases and how they spread. As an epidemiologist, you could seek ways to prevent or control disease outbreaks so that people can live healthier lives. You might study diseases, both infectious and noninfectious, as well as other health-related occurrences, such as as birth defects, cancer and injuries. As a physician, you can treat individual patients. If research interests you, you could become an applied epidemiologist and primarily work in laboratories, studying how to control the outbreak of diseases in the future.

Employment Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the employment outlook for epidemiologists was expected to be good in local and state government settings (www.bls.gov). Employment growth for epidemiologists was predicted to rise 10% from 2012-2022. In 2012, the BLS reported that the annual median salary of epidemiologists was $65,270.

How Can I Work in Epidemiology?

Undergraduate Education

To work in epidemiology, you'll need to earn a bachelor's degree before enrolling in a graduate epidemiology program. Prerequisite coursework in biology, chemistry, anatomy or microbiology could be required, which could be available through undergraduate majors in health science or biology.

Graduate Education

You could earn a graduate certificate in epidemiology or a master's degree program in clinical research or public health to qualify for applied research positions. With a Doctor of Philosophy in Epidemiology, you could conduct independent research or become a postsecondary professor. In addition to concentrated research, you could find epidemiology education helpful if you're a practicing doctor or nurse interested in enhancing your career or knowledge of disease. You can also specialize in a particular area of the field, such as infectious diseases or environmental epidemiology. Much of the coursework and hands-on training in these programs require you to engage in on-site research. However, you can find a few online epidemiology opportunities to satisfy continuing education requirements.

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