Epidemiologists are medical scientists who conduct biomedical research into human diseases to improve public health. They have advanced knowledge of the affect of viruses and bacteria on the human body. Many specialize in the study of other infectious agents, as well, including biochemical agents.

Epidemiologists are integral to the research of the spread and treatment of diseases. Their work often includes preventative measures, treatment and containment for infectious diseases.

Epidemiology Degrees

At a minimum, epidemiologists must hold a master’s degree from a school of public health. Some go on to earn Ph.D.s and medical degrees. The original bachelor’s degree of an epidemiologist will vary, but most have a strong undergraduate foundation in chemistry, biology and math.

Epidemiologist Job Description

Epidemiologists are scientists who research communicable diseases that pose a threat to public health. There are two basic types of epidemiologists: research epidemiologists and clinical epidemiologists.

Those who specialize in research collect and study data to contain, control or eradicate the spread of infectious diseases. Clinical epidemiologists, on the other hand, consult with hospitals and health care agencies about containment strategies in the event of an infectious disease breakout.

Epidemiologists are skilled researchers who must possess the following skills:

  • Design of research and trial studies
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Implementation of efficacious research methodologies
  • Interpretation of data and application of its finding
  • Development of strategies to protect the public health

Epidemiologists Salary Outlook

In times of economic crisis, epidemiology is a relatively recession-proof career with a significantly lower average rate of lay-offs and unemployment. For those with advanced degrees in science and public health, there are a growing number of positions with government agencies, hospitals, universities and private organizations, such as research facilities and pharmaceutical companies.

The median salary of epidemiologists in May 2006 was $56,670. The top 10 percent of earners grossed more than $87,300.

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