Epidemiologists: Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

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Job description

Epidemiologists investigate and describe the determinants and distribution of disease, disability, or health outcomes. May develop the means for prevention and control.

  • Oversee public health programs, including statistical analysis, health care planning, surveillance systems, and public health improvement.
  • Plan and direct studies to investigate human or animal disease, preventive methods, and treatments for disease.
  • Provide expertise in the design, management and evaluation of study protocols and health status questionnaires, sample selection, and analysis.
  • Monitor and report incidents of infectious diseases to local and state health agencies.
Read more about what does an Epidemiologist really do at work and what is it like being and working as one.

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Average salary
$75690 per year

Average hourly wage
$36 per hour

Epidemiologists with little to no experience tend to make between $42240 and $54930 while the more experienced ones can earn over $89950 per year.

Top 5 paying states Hourly Annual
MA $52 $107,670
DC $51 $106,740
WA $49 $102,490
NJ $45 $94,450
CA $44 $92,040

One of the easiest ways to increase your salary as an Epidemiologist is to move to a higher paying state like MA. Right now, the highest paying states for Epidemiologists are MA, DC, WA, NJ and CA.

However, a higher pay at MA doesn’t guarantee that you will make more because the living expenses at MA might be twice as high than where you are currently at now.

Three other factors that can increase your salary as an Epidemiologist is the degree you hold, the industry you work in, and lastly the company you work for.


Recommended degree level
Master’s degree

We asked other Epidemiologists what degree they had when they got the job and most of them said they had a Master’s Degree followed by a PhD.

Other than that, we also asked them what did they major in and here are the most popular majors that came up.

Cell/Cellular Biology and Histology
Medical Scientist
Environmental Health
Read more about how to become an Epidemiologist and the degree, training and education you need.

Pros and Cons

Here are some of the pros and cons of being an Epidemiologist.

Suitable for people who likes to solve problems mentally
Suitable for people who values achievements and are results-oriented
This career is perfect for people who love to work indoors.
Very good salary
Not suitable for people who likes to work with designs
It is very hard to get into this career. Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience is required for this career.
Long working hours (More than 40 hours per week)

What is the job like

Job satisfaction

Is this job meaningful

77% of Epidemiologists said they were satisfied with their job and 91% said they feel like their job is making other people’s lives better.

Working experience from Tony Hegar Source: Quora

Speaking personally, being an epidemiologist is an opportunity to let my curious inner child have an outlet. At its core, working in epidemiology means being a detective of sorts, and just like with crime detectives often the clues to the source and spread of a disease outbreak are far and few between, or not even apparent at first glance. It means that there’s a lot of critical thinking involved (which I also love) and that often takes the form of analyzing past and current trends in health data in order to get a broader sense of the whole picture. It means collaborating with others within and outside of your field and forging priceless relationships with those working on the ground, from doctors to janitors so as to be your eyes and ears.

Most of all though to put it in the words of one of my favorite lecturers “Epidemiologists should have clean minds and dirty hands”. A clean mind or one which is not easily given into biases and quick assumptions is one of the greatest tools an epidemiologist can possess. It is of immense value no matter what new disease lurks around the corner.

Working experience from Jenna Coalson Source: Quora

Epidemiology is actually an incredibly broad field. We are trained to think about effective research methods for topics that are tricky (or impossible) to study with standard methods. While that means a lot of epidemiologists are doing complex data analysis or lab research, we can be involved with any steps of the research process. For instance, I know a lot of lab epidemiologists, if that is your thing. Some friends of mine analyze samples and look for patterns in the spread of drug resistance, among other possibilities. Some of us get to do a lot of field research– for instance, I spent more than a year in Africa helping with data and sample collection in a household survey of malaria behaviors and also working in the lab there to analyze some of the samples. Other friends went to work for local, state, or national health departments and do a lot of policy work, or outbreak investigation, or assess general disease burdens and health care trends. Others do consulting for industry/pharmaceutical companies, occupational health, and safety work, or act as expert witnesses in health-related trials. Basically, if it’s health-related research, you can bring an epidemiology approach to it. Study design, data collection, project management, lab work, and, yes, data analysis… these are just a few possible examples.

In terms of career options, I generally think of research as being one broad category, either for academia, industry or government/non-profit agencies, with public health practice and policy being the other broad category.

The extensive variety of options and applications is actually one of my favorite things about this field.

Working experience from Dr. Elizabeth Rodgers, PhD, MPH, RYT, CMP Source: Direct

My name is Dr. Elizabeth Rodgers, Ph.D., MPH, RYT, CMP. I am a doctor of epidemiology.

Being an epidemiologist it’s like having a backstage pass at a concert. We get to see all of the things that go on behind the scenes to produce the simple outcomes and statistics that the public are served through the media and other sources of information. These statistics and information that impact decisions that affect the health of the entire population. As an epidemiologist I understand the data, the biases, the methodology, the analytics, appropriate study design, and the risks and benefits that come along with any research study or practical application designed to improve health for the population.

Personally as an epidemiologist I feel it’s like creating something extraordinary out of the ordinary because I personally use the science of epidemiology to trailblaze a new field by applying the science and methodology of traditional epidemiology to the micro individual level to understand and identify why we really feel the way we feel. I get to put the pieces of other peoples and my clients healthcare puzzles together to connect the dots, create comprehensive plans, and build customized healing regimes. In essence I use my skills as an epidemiologist to understand and analyze the patterns and trends of people’s healing and health journeys- this allows me to address all of the factors that impact a person’s health and ability to heal rather than simply managing their conditions and symptoms. This also allows me to monitor trends and patterns of people’s healing journeys to minimize and reduce the burden of those inevitable setbacks everyone experiences.

What is your work life like?

My work life as a traditional epidemiologist in academia was challenging because I have extremely innovative and outside of the box visions and ideas but in order to thrive in the traditional “publish or perish” environment, epidemiologists must adhere to studying the topics that available funding will shine a light on and prioritize. Now my work life is beyond anything I ever could have imagined as I design it myself. I run my own practice now and as the CEO and owner, I prioritize a healthy work-life balance as a non-negotiable. I believe in practicing what I preach and our health is truly the foundation of everything including our work and our businesses. Now my work life is simply enjoyable, spacious, creative, and full of manifestation, an opportunity to help others heal and improve their lives as a whole. I use my science as art to guide people to transform their health and lives, and it’s an honor.

What are the pros and cons?

The cons of being an epidemiologist are that for the most part most people do not understand or get what we do. Even now in the time of a pandemic, people are getting one very narrow perspective of what epidemiologists can and will do with their expertise. As a result people still do not truly understand the value of an epidemiologist and the powerful work that we bring to the table.

The pros of being an epidemiologist are having the opportunity to create something extraordinary and unique in the world and to have the opportunity to use the science to apply it at both the individual and population levels to find unique and innovative ways to help others heal and achieve sustainable and lasting health and wellness. It’s a vehicle to shift the focus from chronic illness to chronic wellness. Another pro-I get to fulfill my life’s purpose each day!

Is this right for me

Best personality for this career
The Thinkers and The Helpers

You can read more about these career personality types here.

People who are suitable for this job tends to like working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. They like searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally..

They also like working with, communicating with, and teaching people. They like helping or providing service to others.

Learn more about Epidemiologists

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