The Average Salary of an Epidemiologist: How Much Can You Earn in This Public Health Field?
Eating healthy is all the rage these days, but what does it mean to eat healthy? Do you know the difference between healthy and unhealthy foods? An epidemiologist might be able to tell you.
Epidemiologists examine patterns of disease among people to determine how best to deliver public health services and combat biological threats.
How much an epidemiologist makes depends on location, experience, education level, job responsibilities and other factors, but in this article we’ll discuss the most common averages based on a few important demographic details. Keep reading to find out how much an epidemiologist makes in your area!
What Is an Epidemiologist?
Studying health behaviors and risks has become part of what epidemiologists do. But that’s not all they do. They also look at disease patterns, or outbreaks, to try to determine how best to deliver public health services and combat biological threats. The skills needed for these jobs can be difficult to master and may require a doctoral degree or other post-graduate training.
Salaries also tend to be higher for those with more advanced degrees. Do your research carefully when deciding if a career as an epidemiologist is right for you—it’s important you find one that will suit your lifestyle, especially if you plan on having a family in the future… If you love puzzles and problem solving, epidemiology might be for you!
In addition to public health experts, epidemiologists are often on call for local and national organizations. For example, they are often part of disease surveillance teams that monitor diseases that have outbreaks.
It’s not unusual for them to work around-the-clock during these times to track down carriers and prevent further spread… [EDITOR’S NOTE: Here is where you insert your own bio at a later date]…
What Is an Epidemiologis – Third Paragraph
What Are the Steps to Becoming an Epidemiologist?
Before you can become a practicing epidemiologist, you must first earn a degree from an accredited college or university. Some epidemiologists also choose to specialize in certain aspects of public health, such as cancer research or infectious disease control.
By continuing your education throughout your career and taking courses on-the-job training, you can build your skill set and advance up a career ladder within epidemiology.
There are different methods for training epidemiologists—no matter which route you take, it’s important to become well versed in statistics, data analysis, and scientific writing. Learn more about what it takes to become an epidemiologist below.
A day in the life… – Third Paragraph: Here are some aspects you might experience throughout your career as an epidemiologist, depending on which specialty you pursue.
A day in a Epidemic Intelligence Service officer’s life. A day as a Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention fellow at Sloan Kettering Institute for Cancer Research.
Career Options for Epidemiologists
On average, epidemiologists earn over $60,000 per year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that 80 percent of positions are found within state or local health departments. Ten percent work for universities and hospitals, and about five percent work for physicians’ offices or private research organizations.
The BLS also says that nearly 40 percent reported self-employment as a source of income during their career so it’s possible to work independently as well if you choose not to go into public health administration or employment at a firm specializing in data analysis and reporting reporting
However, it’s important to remember that a bachelor’s degree isn’t necessary for all jobs. There are various entry-level positions available with only a master’s degree. Still, a doctoral program is recommended if you’re interested in working for private research groups or universities. Finally, keep in mind that not all epidemiologists work directly with patients so there are also opportunities to work with insurance companies and advocate for patients as well.
Job Description for Epidemiologists
The CDC defines epidemiology as the study and analysis of factors affecting health and disease conditions in defined populations. They work with scientists and health care professionals to identify public health issues and control measures for disease prevention.
Some epidemiologists are employed by hospitals, schools, or insurance companies to track outbreaks of diseases. Others work at state or federal agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), National Cancer Institute (NCI), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service (USDA/ARS). Most employers prefer a master’s degree from an accredited program but bachelor’s degrees are sometimes accepted.
In a recent BLS survey, average annual salaries for epidemiologists in 2012 were about $64,800 for those working for state and local governments, and about $87,800 for those employed by architectural and engineering firms. Employment is expected to grow by 21 percent from 2010 to 2020 as medical facilities develop more effective methods of tracking health risks and coordinating treatment.
Bill Gates biography – Third Paragraph: Today his philanthropic efforts are focused on reducing poverty globally, encouraging innovation across sectors with a special focus on education, sponsoring vaccine research and protecting agricultural development. According to Forbes’ ranking of billionaires (2014), he was worth nearly 60 billion dollars at the time of publication.
Skills and Education Requirements for Epidemiologists
To work as an epidemiologist, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in epidemiology, public health or a closely related field such as biology. Many programs will also require you to have completed some coursework on statistics and biostatistics.
Your classes will teach you about risk factors for various diseases and how to determine causation; they may also cover advanced topics like infection control and managing outbreaks. Most schools also offer public health concentrations within their undergraduate majors that cover some of these topics more extensively.
After graduating, your next step is to get licensed by earning at least a master’s degree. While there aren’t any required courses to take, you may want to consider getting an MPH (Master of Public Health) degree.
After getting your master’s degree, you’ll need to fulfill a few licensing requirements for employment. State boards and employers may accept a certificate from certain organizations as proof that you have fulfilled your education requirements; if not, you may need to take a couple of exams administered by epidemiology societies or agencies. Some states also require further training, such as completing continuing education courses or writing additional papers.
Working Conditions for Epidemiologists
Not surprisingly, epidemiologists spend a lot of time at their desks or poring over data and research. In fact, according to one study, they spend more than 60 percent of their working hours sitting at desks or behind computers. That said, it’s not all about sitting; epidemiologists need to be able to transport themselves around their work area when conducting interviews and collecting fieldwork samples. Some will also travel for conferences, workshops, classes and training sessions throughout their careers. Most epidemiologists work full-time and keep regular hours Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a lunch break most days (usually 1–2 p.m.
Career Paths for Epidemiologists
There are many paths epidemiologists can take to get to where they want to be. If you’re interested in studying infectious diseases, you may want to consider pursuing a master’s degree and then attending graduate school for another two years or so. After that, you could focus on public health or go back to college and pursue a Ph.D. For those who want to work with data, there are plenty of jobs available as medical statisticians. Regardless of your career path, you’ll have excellent job security thanks to our ever-increasing population and its need for vaccinations, treatments and awareness about disease control issues. Plus, there will always be an epidemic somewhere (think Ebola) that will require experts like epidemiologists on call.
Demographics of Epidemiologists
According to a BLS study, there are typically seven epidemiologists for every 1,000 people. Most epidemiologists work full-time (91 percent) and spend a large amount of time on their feet (76 percent). Surprisingly, only a quarter work more than 40 hours per week. The most common path to becoming an epidemiologist is through a doctoral degree. While it’s not required for all entry-level positions, many companies prefer candidates with advanced degrees because they usually have more experience and are less likely to leave soon after being hired. A bachelor’s degree is often sufficient to enter non-clinical public health jobs, but you’ll typically need at least an MS or MPH if you want to specialize as an epidemiologist.
The average salary for epidemiologists is $72,000. Those with more education typically earn more money. For example, those with a master’s degree or higher make about $78,000 on average, compared to $62,000 for those with a bachelor’s degree and $60,000 for those with a high school diploma. Some companies offer health benefits and other perks to their employees if they work full-time (as opposed to part-time), so full-time epidemiologists make about 5 percent more than their part-time counterparts.
Employers of Epidemiologists
The employment landscape for epidemiologists is relatively small and concentrated, with most employed by local or state health departments. The federal government employs epidemiologists as well, but they tend to work at high levels with titles such as assistant surgeon general or administrator. Common private-sector employers include hospitals, public health agencies and insurance companies. A handful of epidemiologists work outside of public and private healthcare settings, including pharmaceutical companies, consultancies and medical testing labs. These types of epidemiologists may be more interested in reimbursement policies than infectious disease outbreaks. However, those who are motivated by a desire to prevent illness will always find plenty to do — no matter where they go to work.
There are about 40,000 epidemiologists working in public health, with a growing number of positions opening up at private-sector firms each year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects employment to increase by 14% between 2012 and 2022 — a faster rate than average for all occupations. Most epidemiologists work in large cities or major metropolitan areas where they can access medical and health data, while others go abroad to track infectious disease outbreaks and other medical emergencies. A handful also hold part-time jobs at local hospitals or clinics and carry out research as volunteers during their free time.
State Laws Regarding Infectious Diseases
Each state has unique laws regarding infectious diseases, and epidemiologists make sure to abide by these regulations. For example, health officials in South Carolina recently made headlines for tracking down a woman who was infected with gonorrhea; she may face charges for willfully exposing others to a sexually transmitted disease. Most states also require people to inform their partners if they have been exposed to a sexually transmitted disease.
To keep patients safe and to track outbreaks, epidemiologists must know state-specific laws related to infectious diseases. States also have unique legal definitions for different types of sexually transmitted diseases. For example, Iowa defines gonorrhea as a reportable condition; however, other states do not include it on their list. Sometimes, epidemiologists need to contact local authorities if they suspect someone is spreading a disease like gonorrhea or another sexually transmitted infection (STI).
The average epidemiologist salary is $66,000. When you consider that, as a federal employee or consultant, you are likely to receive excellent benefits and be on call for emergencies 24/7, that salary may seem even better. However, don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that public health work is easy; there is long-term psychological damage involved with working around disease and death every day. Still, if money isn’t your primary motivator but rather passion and altruism are more important to you than paychecks and time off – then going into public health may be right for you! In addition to providing a positive service to your community, it’s also nice having good employment opportunities with healthy food cravings!
According to Payscale, epidemiologists made a median salary of $52,646 per year as of 2013. That number is based on self-reported salaries by employees at 300 different companies. While it’s true that health and food are essential for a healthy lifestyle, you don’t necessarily have to spend money for healthy foods. It’s all about what types of food you eat, how often you eat them and how much you eat them. If you’re trying to save money but want to stay healthy and maintain a healthier lifestyle, try eating fruits and vegetables more often. Fruit costs around $1-$2 per pound while vegetables cost around $2-$3 per pound depending on where they are grown.