Most of the jobs in epidemiology are under the banner of public health. Similarly, most colleges and universities house their programs in this discipline within the department of public health. Positions exist in the private and public sectors under various titles, which we’ll explore in this post. Following the learning institutions’ nomenclature, many jobs are in public health at the city, county, state, and federal government levels. To qualify for employment in this area, you will need at least an undergraduate degree from an accredited school.
Some jobs place you in the limelight, and others allow you to remain in a supporting but crucial role, doing research. An example of the former is a job listing on SimplyHired for a Public Health Epidemiologist in Placer County, situated in Auburn, California. In addition to analyzing and interpreting health data, the candidate must present evaluations and outbreak investigations to different audiences.
Other jobs geared towards biostatistics, computation, and research may suit those who want less public speaking and exposure. A private company in Virginia seeks a Computational Epidemiologist to work, for example, on the development of advanced models of infectious disease progression. Applicants should have research experience with algorithmic development and cloud computing.
It’s all about the numbers
Epidemiology is the study of patterns, trends, causes, and prevalence of a disease in populations. You do not need a medical degree to work in the profession. Instead, you need to understand where, how, and why infection is a pandemic or epidemic by analyzing data. The latter refers to a prevalent disease in a specific geographical area, such as the United States’ seasonal flu epidemics. When the illness spreads to other countries or continents, it becomes a pandemic, such as COVID-19.
Therefore, one should have an aptitude for mathematics to excel as an epidemiologist. Mainly, it would be best if you had expertise in statistics to generate analytic reports, tables, graphics, and interpret scientific data. This knowledge could lead to a job as a biostatistician.
In public health, biostatistics identifies ways to treat populations in the control of an epidemic. The data show where the infection is most prominent and its rate of spread across a given area. From this information, the epidemiologist can direct the appropriate resources to the affected community. By analyzing tables and graphs, the biostatistician might track the origin of a particular infection. For example, is the cause due to air pollution or toxins in the drinking water?
Work in this field examines the long and short-term detrimental health effects of human and natural disasters. The analysis assists relief efforts to allocate healthcare. Historical data provides public health epidemiologists to predict future health risks—for example, infectious diseases and gastrointestinal problems caused by lack of sanitation and contaminated potable water. Bacteria, mold, vermin, and other risk factors, from prior catastrophes, are analyzed.
During a disaster, public health officials conduct mortality surveillance to ascertain the scope of the health effects on the community. This process involves collecting, investigating, and interpreting deaths, injuries, and illnesses in the affected area.
The 2020-21 pandemic, known as COVID-19, created a demand for epidemiologists. Consulting is one category where consulting firms have a state health department as a client. A Fairfax, Virginia consulting firm posted an opening for its client – the Virginia Department of Health. Responsibilities include investigating and analyzing COVID-19 within a district. Other duties are the collection and review of data, as well as interpreting state policies and procedures regarding the pandemic.
As mentioned above, numerous jobs are at different levels of government, from city to federal. State departments of health are an excellent place to search. Some of the job postings on Indeed are:
Dallas County (Texas)
Epidemiology Program Planner: Develops and implements emergency preparedness, response, and recovery plans and programs related to epidemiology activities.
State of Alaska (Anchorage)
Epidemiologist Specialist II: Ensures state, Tribal, and community health improvement planning using methods to protect and improve a community’s health.
District of Columbia
Epidemiologist: Analyzes data that relate to specified diseases, injuries, or health-related conditions; risk-related behavior; geographic areas; and other identifiable factors.
State of Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services
Vaccine-Preventable Disease (VPD) Epidemiologist: Responsible for the development, implementation, coordination, support, and strengthening of the statewide VPD outbreak and case-based surveillance program.
State of Florida
Forensic Epidemiologist: Responsibilities include a range of investigative, epidemiologic, and spatial analyses of demographic and geographic data to evaluate opioid mortality and overdose rates in Broward County.
State of Indiana Department of Health
STD Epidemiologist: Analyze data gathered during STD investigations using appropriate statistical methods and computer software; coordinates STD disease surveillance, research, prevention, and control activities.
On employment sites, there is a myriad of jobs and titles to obtain educational and experience preferences. You will see additional positions – Clinical Outcome Assessment Scientist, Health Services Manager, Epidemiology Contract Coordinator, Health Scientist (Informatics), Community Health Assessment Epidemiologist, Refugee Health Epidemiologist, and many more. All of which accept a master’s degree in epidemiology.