How to Become an Epidemiologist: Step-by-step Guide

Become an Epidemiologist
Become an Epidemiologist

Epidemiologists are considered the “disease detectives” of the health industry. However, what does it take to become one? Like other careers in public health, you need to earn a degree, graduate, get work experience for pursuing your dream. Learn more about the 5 steps to become an epidemiologist here!

How to become an Epidemiologist?

Epidemiologists are public health professionals with high specialization. To launch in one of these important positions, you must undergo a long process with multiple steps? Are you ready to become an Epidemiologist? Break down how to conquer this path.

1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

If you want to work in epidemiology, you need to have a Bachelor’s degree. Undergraduate degree programs typically focus on uncommon epidemiology, so aspiring epidemiologists can choose some other options for their majors.

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Epidemiologists need to have a Master’s degree at the minimum. You also look at the admissions requirements of the graduate programs to pursue a career as an epidemiologist. It means that you need to show a transcript with good results, especially in science and mathematics.

2. Gain Work Experience

Improving work experience is a strong plus for an epidemiologist like using any of your time to gain experience in healthcare or public health roles.

Employers will be interested if you worked in healthcare positions in hospitals or long-term care facilities as a nursing assistant, medical scribe, EMT, or medical assistant. It’s also a great opportunity to build valuable connections with other healthcare professionals and acquire more hands-on skills.

3. Complete Your Education

As mentioned above, you will need a graduate-level education to become an epidemiologist. You also have different graduate education options, so this step is very important! Because of the differences between each option, you should choose specific focus sectors within epidemiology. Here are 2 great options for epidemiology education

  • Master of Public Health (MPH): These programs provide a comprehensive education of public health for medical students. You will learn about epidemiological research methods, health policy, environmental health sciences, and social and behavioral science. MPH focuses on epidemiology research applications to public health issues.
  • Master of Science in Epidemiology (MS in Epidemiology): Although less broad than the MPH, students will focus on epidemiology science and statistical research methods. When choosing this degree, biostatics, methodology, and disease control are the main topics you should focus on.
Complete Your Education
Complete Your Education

Additionally, a postgraduate degree is a good option for epidemiologists who are looking for advanced research positions. Here are 3 options you can consider 

  • PhD in Epidemiology: This is the most common doctoral degree for those who want to research projects or work as professors. The PhD program focuses on specialized subjects such as environmental epidemiology, cancer epidemiology, infectious disease epidemiology.
  • Doctor of Public Health in Epidemiology (DrPH): This option is less common but it’s a good idea for those who want to advance in public health management or specialized research.
  • MD/MPH: These “dual-degree” programs allow you to earn a Master of Public Health as well as their MD. With these degrees, you can work in clinical practice or dive into epidemiology research.

4. Consider Professional Certifications

Stand out your resume and improve your expertise by earning public health certifications. Epidemiology-related certifications you can consider 

  • National Board of Public Health Examiners Certified in Public Health
  • Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology’s Associate – Infection Prevention and Control (a-IPC)
  • Certification in Infection Control (CIC)

5. Find Out a Job

You can find epidemiology jobs in the public sector, scour local, state, and federal job boards. Research is another major field for epidemiologists, so working in universities, pharmaceutical companies, and other medical institutions is also your opportunity.

Ready to catch your career? 

Being an epidemiologist needs a substantial investment in education and effort, this field can give you many rewarding benefits. While a doctor treats patients, an epidemiologist can help to prevent thousands of people from ever contracting diseases. Take this potential career today!