Epidemiologists

Pros


  • This type of work is good for those who like to help people by investigating and solving problems related to diseases.
  • Those who are good with numbers for statistical analysis will enjoy this type of work.
  • You will be trying to solve serious problems. Those who like the challenges that problems bring will like this job.

Cons

  • Epidemiologists spend time studying disease, and some of these are infectious. Therefore, there are elements of danger to this job.
  • There are several disciplinary studies involved in this work; one must be rigorously trained for this job.
  • The study of disease is not for everyone. There may be uncomfortable situations for those who tend to be squeamish.

Overview

Simply put, an epidemiologist is a medical professional that studies the effects of disease on humans. This encompasses a lot of different types of daily work. Among other things, epidemiologists determine what may or may not cause a disease, explore particular risks and make decisions about what may be the best way to prevent a disease from spreading. Their work is part of a discipline known as public health that concentrates on medical issues for the masses, especially during times of crisis.
That types of diseases that epidemiologists study is vast. They can include food poisoning, influenza and mad cow disease. Epidemiologists must be good with numbers, as they will use statistics, primarily biostatistics, in order to take the data that they collect. Data generally is recorded during fieldwork that requires an epidemiologist to travel to locations that are specific to a disease. This information is used by epidemiologists to make informed decisions that impact the public.
Those who work as epidemiologists work in many diverse environments. They can be found working in hospitals to study the affects of diseases in patients. Many do academic work teaching and conducting research at universities. Some work for pharmaceutical companies working on new drugs and medical technologies. A large employer for epidemiologists is the federal government, which as an organization devotes a lot of resources towards public health initiatives.

Education

Those looking to enter this career field should expect at least six years of university training in order to gain employment. Generally completion of a master’s degree will allow one to get a job as an applied epidemiologist that responds to outbreaks and does extensive field operations. Oftentimes research epidemiologists that work in this field are required to have at least a PhD program in order to gain employment. Those who have a PhD spend most of their time conducting research in a laboratory environment.

Job Prospects

Public health is a growing field. It is very important to contain diseases and problematic issues such as widespread food poisoning. This allows society to run efficiently and keeps people from becoming sick unnecessarily. Because of this those who have the proper training can expect excellent job prospects in this field. The government is a larger employer for this type of work, and state governments have reported shortages of qualified individuals for this type of work.

Advancement Opportunities

Epidemiologists do have some advancement opportunities available to them. It is interesting to note that the competition for research jobs, which are the highest-paying, are very fierce. However, those who only have a master’s degree can enter the field and become specialized with additional fieldwork and education, which can be a way to advance. Some epidemiologists may decide to work in non-traditional roles within this occupation in order to get ahead. This may mean taking consulting work or starting a business in order to advance themselves.