Explore various career options in the field of epidemiology – Part 3

November 26, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Students pose in lab coats outside the hospital in Iringa, Tanzania. Field Epidemiologists

Remember those movies (‘Outbreak’ was one such move) in which the authorities had specialists flown in when there was an epidemic in a particular area? Those specialists are field epidemiologists. Professionals who pursue this speciality conduct the actual field work that will help determine how a disease affects people. They study the relationships between people and the diseases, find the source and cause of the disease and try to look for a possible cure. They are the ones who are called in when an expert is needed to identify new or rare diseases.


This field requires a lot of interaction with people and these professionals are employed in various areas of medicine right from environmental health to oral health or chronic diseases. Like most other areas, field epidemiologists require a Master’s degree in epidemiology.


Ph.D. Epidemiologist

A Ph.D. epidemiologist is an expert in this field and usually works as a part of different kinds of research projects. These specialists may lead teams of researchers or organise projects. Earning your Ph.D. holder will open doors to a number of exciting job opportunities that are reserved exclusively for those holding doctorates. As a Ph.D. epidemiologist, you could work in labs and conduct experiments or you could analyse data and collate it in the form of reports. With this degree, you could also get into the field of teaching where you would work as a professor in various universities. Obtaining a Ph.D. would take at least four years of studying. However, those who do a combined MPH and Ph.D. course may be able to complete it in a shorter amount of time.


Applied Epidemiologist

Applied epidemiologists are usually hired by different agencies, from the FDA to the CDC. These specialists work as a part of a team or forms teams in order to study various diseases. Some applied epidemiologists also plan different studies and clinical trials that are conducted relating to pressing health problems in the public sector. Some professionals take part in collecting samples from people, conducting interviews and any other kind of field work that may be required. In order to be an applied epidemiologist, it is necessary to have a Master’s degree in this field. For those conducting research projects, some employers may require you to have a Ph.D.


With a degree in public health and sufficient work experience, this is a speciality that can truly take you places. There are several exciting job opportunities that you would qualify for, all of which pay above average salaries. However, most of the better job profiles require a Master’s degree or MPH in this field. Some employers even make it mandatory for you to have a Ph.D. Before getting into this field, it is advisable to consider all the options available so that you can make an educated choice in terms of the job description, your potential annual salary and the demand for that particular speciality.