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 2019 median pay was $70,990 per year.

Where They Work:

  • Hospitals

  • Laboratories

  • Universities

  • Pharmaceutical companies

  • Health insurers

Career Outlook:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment of epidemiologists will grow 5% from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Epidemiologists are likely to have good job prospects overall. 


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Epidemiologists,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/epidemiologists.htm 

Updated February 2021