What are the possible careers for an epidemiologist?

I want to talk about the possible careers that you can pursue as an epidemiologist. From academia to working in the field, epidemiology has many possibilities. Most of my classmates, if not all, would want to follow one of these career paths once they have completed this Epidemiology program.

Epidemiology is an exciting field and it is constantly growing and changing but earnings are also an important factor so as an additional point, I will give the median starting salary for each of these career areas. These are rough estimates and will change depending on the country, company, hospital, experience level, etc.…  If you are considering epidemiology as a career, sit back, relax and read what the future may hold in store for you.

  1. Academic research Epidemiologist: if you take this route, you will work in universities or institutes and focus on a research topic studying etiologic factors as your day-to-day routine. This has the same route as any academic department and you are staying in this track to one day become a professor. You will possibly be involved in teaching at an undergraduate and/or graduate level. Most students follow this route by pursuing a Ph.D. and then continuing to do a post-doc.

         Why academia?

If you are keen on planning and directing studies about public health issues that you find very important, this is a good path to consider. You collect and analyze data and find ways to treat and prevent health problems. Most breakthroughs in the field of public health are done through meticulous academic research.

Median Salary: SEK 425,000

  1. Applied Epidemiologist: This takes a different route because you usually work for health departments and agencies that may be at a city or national level. You are still involved in investigating the distribution of diseases and risk factors for a specific geographic area. You are involved in the surveillance of diseases and documenting trends in your specific jurisdiction. You are involved in recommending and advising policymakers. At the peak of this post, you are aiming to be a Senior Epidemiologist or a Health Commissioner.

Median Salary: SEK 530,000

  1. Clinical Epidemiologist: You are involved in clinical trials of a drug or medical procedures in either pharmaceutical companies or healthcare organizations and you will monitor trials or procedures at different levels. You will focus on the design of the trials, quality control, reliability, validity as well in the analysis of the data.

Median Salary: SEK 600,000

  1. Infection Control Epidemiologist: As an infection control epidemiologist, your office is a hospital. You work within a hospital in tracking infectious diseases. There is a cross-over of information between this and academic and applied epidemiologists. You are involved in hospital-based surveillance. You are involved in studying the infectivity, pathogenicity, immunogenicity of different infectious agents, the different characteristics of the host (demographic, socioeconomic, etc…) as well as the environment.

Median Salary: SEK 626,000

  1. Biostatistician: A biostatistician is an expert in evaluating data as scientific evidence. You should be able to handle large datasets and be quick with different statistical software. A biostatistician, besides analyzing and interpreting the data, also needs to know how to design a study. You collaborate with different research groups and you get to learn about different areas of science and collaborate with clinicians. You might not directly impact people’s life but you can improve people’s life through teaching, software developments, knowledge transfer, and collaborating in clinically relevant research.

Median Salary: SEK 710,000

  1. Outbreak Investigator Epidemiologist: The ‘true’ detectives of the epidemiology world. For those who want to be out in the field, this career allows you to work in health departments but with NGOs like MSF (doctors without borders). You look for cases and try to develop a hypothesis by looking at the type of transmission, exposure, etiological agent, and the source. You are also responsible for measuring the potential of transmission by estimating the number of cases that can be caused by already infected individuals in a susceptible population.

Median Salary: SEK 530,000

All these paths, directly or indirectly, impact the health of the public but based on your interest and competency, you should pinpoint your primary area of focus.

Stay tuned, lovely people!

You can contact me at Nuhamin.Petros@stud.ki.se and I will be happy to talk to you more about epidemiology as well as the program here at Karolinska Institutet.


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