What is an Epidemiologist? | Apr 21, 2016

Public health is a many-faceted field. After all, to keep a large population healthy is no simple feat. It requires a large number of professionals working in a variety of roles toward the common good. One of these areas is the study of epidemiology, a branch of medicine that looks at incidences of diseases and other health concerns, as well as their spread.

If you’re looking for a fulfilling and challenging job in the realm of public health, a position as an epidemiologist could be a perfect fit.

What is an epidemiologist?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines epidemiology as “the method used to find the causes of health outcomes and diseases in populations.” Epidemiologists collect and study data to find patterns that can be used to identify public health crises and determine appropriate solutions. Those who work in these positions often use clinical trials and other investigative methods, such as statistical analysis to reach their findings.

The CDC reported that public health events or problems that are investigated by epidemiologists include infectious diseases, natural disasters, terrorism, non-infectious diseases, environmental exposures and injuries. Consequently, in this role you could work to address public health concerns as diverse as localized increases in a type of cancer, terrorist attacks, episodes of foodborne illness and incidents of heavy metal exposures.

If you have a passion for public health and a knack for spotting patterns and solving problems, a career as an epidemiologist could be right for you. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, positions for epidemiologists are expected to grow by 6 percent between 2014 and 2024, a rate that is about average across the nation’s industries. The mean yearly salary for these positions was $67,420 in 2014.

Your MPH degree

If you’re interested in pursuing a career as an epidemiologist, you’ll need to first complete a master’s degree in public health (MPH). By enrolling in the online degree program through the University of Arizona, you’ll be able to complete the coursework at the time and place of your convenience. Whether you want to work part time while you pursue your degree or have personal commitments that make attending classes in a traditional setting challenging, an online MPH will allow you to work at your own speed without sacrificing your other responsibilities. The degree can be completed in as few as two years, which puts you on the fast-track to your new career in public health.

When you enroll in the University of Arizona’s online MPH program, you can choose to complete an emphasis in epidemiology. About half of your coursework will be dedicated to this specific focus, instructing you in the methods and best practices that you’ll need to be successful in the field. And the 42-credit degree includes a 6-unit internship requirement that will give you practical, hands-on experience in this specialization that will prepare you for finding and excelling in a job after graduation.