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What they do:

Whether they investigate the triggers of an infection for a public health agency or collect blood samples at an outpatient care center, epidemiologists examine the causes of diseases to prevent them from transmitting and recurring. An epidemiologist, also known as a medical scientist, conducts infection surveillance – tracking infections, reading data, assessing where problems may reside and deciding where intervention is needed. Talbot says epidemiologists have the opportunity to provide thoughtful, scientific analysis to help improve the care of patients and the safety of health care workers.


Most medical scientists hold a master’s degree in public health from an accredited postsecondary institution. Some go a step further and earn a Ph.D. in their chosen field. Pertinent epidemiology coursework includes public health, biology and biostatistics. Many epidemiologists also hold medical degrees. Internships or shadowing opportunities are recommended for those interested in gaining experience in the profession.

What they make:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for epidemiologists was $69,450 in May 2015.

Where they work:

  • Hospitals

  • Laboratories

  • Universities

  • Pharmaceutical companies

  • Health insurers


The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment of epidemiologists will grow 6% from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Epidemiologists are likely to have good job prospects overall.



Updated February 2017