What does an Epidemiologist do?

Epidemiologists investigate the patterns of disease and other health-related problems. They research diseases’ causes and frequencies, as well as the common characteristics of people most likely to fall victim. They use this information to devise or refine solutions to control or prevent diseases.

What might an Epidemiologist do in a workday?


  • conduct research among large populations to determine disease trends.
  • develop and test theories regarding the causes and spread of disease.
  • investigate and identify risk factors for disease.
  • determine strategies to combat the spread of, occurrence of or mortality from disease.
  • compare the effectiveness of various methods for combating diseases.
  • conduct public health surveillance to monitor the distribution of diseases.

Among the many subspecialties within epidemiology are:

  • cancer epidemiology
  • environmental/occupational epidemiology
  • neuroepidemiology
  • psychiatric or psychoneuroepidemiology
  • cardiovascular epidemiology</li
  • genetic epidemiology
  • communicable disease epidemiology
  • veterinary epidemiology
  • social epidemiology
  • behavioral epidemiology
  • pharmacoepidemiology

Develop a Career as an Epidemiologist

Epidemiologists may work at research-oriented universities, in the pharmaceutical industry, for large health care providers or HMOs, or in federal, state or local public health departments. Many also are employed by the World Health Organization and by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Epidemiologists may work in large laboratory settings or on site in a community that is experiencing a disease epidemic. Epidemiologists work with many types of health care and public health professionals to investigate and control diseases.

How much salary do Epidemiologists make?

Annual Mean Wage

How do I become an Epidemiologist?

Those interested in becoming an epidemiologist should have a strong interest and background in math, science and English.

Future epidemiologists need to attend a university school of public health and earn either a Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) or Master of Science (M.S.) degree or Ph.D. in Epidemiology. Some epidemiologists also choose to earn a medical degree. Once a degree is earned, continuing education and certification programs are offered by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).

Where else can I learn about becoming an Epidemiologist?

Professional Associations:

American Public Health Association
800 I Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20001

(202) 777-2742 (APHA)

Society for Epidemiologic Research
P.O. Box 990
Clearfield, UT 84089
(801) 525-0231

Virginia Public Health Association
2415 Westwood Avenue
Richmond, VA 23230

(804) 367-4860

Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists
2872 Woodcock Boulevard
Suite 303
Atlanta, GA 30341


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