How to Become an Epidemiologist
What Is Epidemiology?
Types of Epidemiology
What Does an Epidemiologist Do?
Steps to Become an Epidemiologist
How do you become an epidemiologist? If you are interested in this career path, you may be asked to meet epidemiologist requirements including education, experience, and credentials in public health. There are also soft skills like decision-making, critical thinking and active listening that can benefit those who work as epidemiologists.
While how to become an epidemiologist may vary from person to person, the following steps are often followed:
Step 1 – Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most epidemiologists hold a master’s degree or higher to meet epidemiologist education requirements.
Before earning your master’s degree, you will need to obtain a bachelor’s degree. It may be helpful to choose a bachelor’s degree in a field related to epidemiology education, such as public health or medicine. The Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health recommends a math or science major to provide a strong foundation for a public health career.
Step 2 – Gain Work Experience.
Internships or work experience can be helpful for aspiring epidemiologists, and they may be required for certain advanced degree programs, such as Master of Public Health (MPH) programs. When you complete an internship, you may gain more clarity into the type of work you want to do.
Step 3 – Complete a Master’s Degree.
As the BLS states, a master’s degree in a field related to public health is typically the minimum for epidemiologist education requirements. Baylor University has a Master of Public Health online program with a specialization in community health, which offers a limited number of classes that cover epidemiology and can be beneficial for students who want to pursue this career path. A focus in community health can build strong foundational knowledge for those interested in pursuing epidemiology. However, students wishing to focus on epidemiology will likely need additional coursework on such topics as analytics and study design in epidemiology, for example. They may be interested in getting an epidemiology certificate after completing their MPH degree.
Step 4 – Earn Certifications, if Necessary.
Depending on the type of epidemiology you are interested in, there may be specific epidemiology certification options that may boost your resume and increase your chances of earning a job within your desired field. One option for epidemiology certification comes from the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology Inc.
Step 5 – Work as an Epidemiologist.
How do you become an epidemiologist after completing the required education and training? It begins with searching for and applying for jobs. With a master’s degree in public health or a related field, you will often qualify for entry-level epidemiology roles.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to professors, classmates, former supervisors and coworkers for networking advice and recommendations for how to become an epidemiologist.