How to Become an Epidemiologist?

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How to Become an Epidemiologist

We live in a world where almost every year a new life-threatening disease is discovered and then the entire medical force dedicates itself to research about that disease and finding the cure for it. Did you know that there is a specific field of medical science which specialises in dealing with such outbreaks? And if yes, what’s it called? The branch of medical science which I am talking about is called Epidemiology. And in recent years it has become one of those lucrative careers paths which not many know about yet. So, do you wish to try your hand in the career? Then sit tight because we are going to tell you all about how to become an Epidemiologist. 

What does an Epidemiologist Do? 

Unlike other healthcare professionals who treat patients at individual levels, epidemiologists deal with a whole community. Responsible for evaluating the causes of a disease, Epidemiologists play a crucial role in worldwide pandemics and are amongst the frontline warriors in a healthcare system. Their role involves visiting places that are hit by an outbreak where they meet people and collect food, water, and other samples that are later used in a rigorous research process. They work closely with marginalized communities and spending most of their time surveying and researching the possible causes of a disease outbreak. The data they collect is then used to develop vaccines and medicines against the disease. Epidemiologists are the first to respond in such situations and play a crucial role in containing diseases like polio, malaria, plague, etc. 

Required Skills

To know how to become an Epidemiologist, it is quintessential to understand what skills you need to incorporate to follow this career path in Medical Science. Following are the skills you need to have as an epidemiologist:

  • Comprehensive understanding of public health, global pandemics, health hazards, amongst others.
  • Excellent communication skills as you will be working with communities and informing the public healthcare system about the imminent public health hazards.
  • Incisive research and analytical skills to meticulously determine the best response measure to any public health emergency.
  • Mathematical skills to drafting surveys and findings.
  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to work under pressure

Also Read: MBA Healthcare Management

How to Become an Epidemiologist?

Now that you are aware of what an Epidemiologist does and the skills you need to become one, here is a detailed career map on how to become an Epidemiologist:

Obtain a Degree in Public Health/Biostatistics/Health and Nutrition

While there are no specialised bachelor’s degrees in Epidemiology in India, the best way to get the foundational knowledge of this field is through a bachelor’s degree in Biostatistics, Public Health or Health and Nutrition. After graduating in any of these fields, you can further choose from the following master’s level and doctoral degrees to become an Epidemiologist:

  • MSc Epidemiology
  • Master of Public Health
  • Post Graduate Diploma in Epidemiology and Health Management
  • MD in Epidemiology
  • PhD in Epidemiology
  • Masters in Veterinary Public Health and Epidemiology
  • PhD in Veterinary Public Health and Epidemiology

The eligibility criteria for these courses might differ as per the program and university. For master’s courses in Epidemiology/Public Health, you will be required to have a bachelor’s degree and qualify the entrance exam specified by your chosen university such as HBNI EE, CUCET, etc. which are mainly for applying to universities in India.

If you are planning to study Epidemiology/Public Health abroad, universities might ask you to provide GRE scores along with language proficiency scores of IELTS/TOEFL/PTE, etc. You will also have to submit SOP and LORs as part of your application to a foreign university.

Intern at Research Institutes and Healthcare Organisations

While studying your bachelor’s or master’s degree, the best way to implement your theoretical knowledge is by working at research institutes with senior epidemiologists or at healthcare organisations and getting involved with community health NGOs which will provide you with the real-world exposure you need.

Pursue Diploma/Certificate Courses

Since the job involves the processing of data and the use of technology, having a certificate course in computers and data analytics can be useful to set you apart from your peers in the field. 

Explore Career Opportunities

Epidemiologists work independently as well as part of research teams and once you have gained the educational qualifications after finishing your masters, you can either explore opportunities at research institutes or with healthcare institutions. There are different types of job roles you can explore to become an Epidemiologist such as,

  • Community Health Workers
  • Academician
  • Specialised Epidemiologist
  • Research Scientist
  • Statisticians and Surveyors
  • Supervisory Epidemiologist

Courses & Universities

The next step in how to become an Epidemiologist is to know about Universities all over the world that are offering courses in Epidemiology. Depending on the country of origin, the course duration for the degrees vary. Here are some of the universities abroad that offer courses that will help you get started in your career as an epidemiologist. 

University Popular Course Duration
Curtin University, Australia Bachelor of Science (Health Sciences) (Honours) 1 Year
Kent State University, USA Bachelor of Science in Public Health 4 Years
Macquarie University, Australia Bachelor of Advanced Science – with a specialization in Advanced Human Biology 3 Years
St. Francis Xavier University, Canada Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition (Honours) 4 Years
Indiana University -Bloomington, USA Bachelor of Science in Public Health – Community Health 4 Years
University of Liverpool, UK MD Epidemiology and Population Health  2 Years
The University of Sydney, Australia Master of Medicine (Clinical Epidemiology) 1 Year
Lakehead University, Canada Master of Public Health with Specialization in Epidemiology  2 Years
George Washington University, USA Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) in Epidemiology 45 Credit Hours
University of Bristol, UK MSc Epidemiology 1 Year
Western Sydney University, Australia Master of Epidemiology 2 Years
Florida International University, USA Master in Public Health – Concentration in Epidemiology 2 years

Job Prospects and Salary

Now that you are aware of the courses and career map of how to become an Epidemiologist, let’s also explore the career opportunities in this field. Individuals can go on to work in laboratories and investigate outbreaks and new diseases. The job role may also include educating communities about harmful practices that lead to diseases and thus help a community in building basic healthcare infrastructure. They can work as experts with organizations like WHO etc. 

Epidemiologists earn variable salaries depending upon the organization they work for and their job profile. Ideally, the salary for an epidemiologist in India ranges from 7 lac to 12 lac rupees. If you are planning to pursue a career in epidemiology abroad then the prospects for higher-income are increased. Here are a few top job profiles that you can cater to if you want to become an epidemiologist-

Job Profile Average Salary (Entry to Senior-level)
Statisticians and Surveyors ₹2,00,000 – ₹8,90,000
Community Health Workers ₹1,60,000 – ₹9,00,000
Speciality Epidemiologists ₹3,00,000 – ₹10,20,000
Supervisory Epidemiologists ₹5,00,000 – ₹11,00,000
Data Analysts ₹1,00,000 – ₹9,65,000
Veterinary Epidemiologist ₹1,00,000 – ₹10,00,000
Molecular Epidemiologist ₹1,00,000 – ₹9,65,000

We hope you have been familiarised with all the details regarding the career path of how to become an Epidemiologist. Planning to study Epidemiology abroad? Our Leverage Edu experts are here to assist you throughout the admission process of your dream university, from qualifying standardized tests like IELTS, TOEFL, GRE, etc. to drafting impressive SOP and LORs to ensure that you send a winning application! Sign up for a free session with us now!

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