Epidemiologists are public health professionals who investigate patterns and causes of disease and injury in humans. They seek to reduce the risk and occurrence of negative health outcomes through research, community education, and health policy.
Epidemiologists work in offices and laboratories, usually at health departments for state and local governments, in hospitals, and at colleges and universities. Some do fieldwork to conduct interviews and collect samples for analyses. Fieldwork may bring epidemiologists into contact with infectious disease, but the risk is minimal because they receive appropriate training and take extensive precautions before interacting with samples or patients.
How to Become an Epidemiologist
Epidemiologists need at least a master’s degree from an accredited college or university. Most epidemiologists have a master’s degree in public health (MPH) or a related field, and some have completed a doctoral degree in epidemiology or medicine.
Employment of epidemiologists is projected to grow 6 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Epidemiologists are likely to have good job prospects overall.
This occupation supported 5,100 jobs in 2012 and 5,800 jobs in 2014, reflecting an increase of 13.7%. In 2012, this occupation was projected to increase by 11.8% in 2022 to 5,700 jobs. As of 2014, to keep pace with prediction, the expected number of jobs was 5,200, compared with an observed value of 5,800, 11.5% higher than expected. This indicates current employment trends are much better than the 2012 trend within this occupation. In 2014, this occupation was projected to increase by 5.9% in 2024 to 6,100 jobs. Linear extrapolation of the 2012 projection for 2022 results in an expected number of 5,800 jobs for 2024, 4.9% lower than the 2014 projection for 2024. This indicates expectations for future employment trends are better than the 2012 trend within this occupation.