The medical field is one of the most rewarding you can choose to enter, without question. The chance to help others is combined with great pay and solid job benefits, making it a career option that offers professional and personal rewards no other job field can match. But not everyone wants to provide direct patient care. Luckily, there are numerous other areas you can choose to work in while still staying in the health field and making an impact on the lives of others. A perfect example of this is to become a state epidemiologist.
The state epidemiologist uses their skills to help improve the overall health and well-being of their home state and the population within it. While they don’t work directly with patients, they do have a major effect on the lives of everyone in the region due to their efforts. If you think that becoming a state epidemiologist sounds like something you’d like to do, keep reading to learn more about the job and how to enter the medical field as one.
What Is a State Epidemiologist?
First, it’s worth understanding what an epidemiologist is. Basically, these are highly trained, highly skilled professionals who focus on investigating the causes of disease and on how their spread can be prevented. They work primarily in a research-focused environment, and investigate patterns and sources of disease within the population.
A state epidemiologist does the same, only with a specific focus on the population of an entire state. It’s a government level job in almost every situation, and in this role you’ll work to identify the source of diseases and how to prevent them.
Here’s a look at some of the job duties you may have as a state epidemiologist.
- Plan studies of health issues within the state
- Develop and implement those studies, then oversee them as they progress
- Collect and gather samples, data, and information related to the subject of the study
- Conduct interviews as needed
- Supervise all clerical and professional employees working on the study
- Run tests on samples
- Gather and analyze all data
- Generate reports based on information
- Consult with other health professionals and government agency workers to develop methods of prevention concerning health issues
- Help develop educational materials and other programs that reduce illness and disease
A state epidemiologist will focus on issues that confront their home state, but may also focus on very specific areas within the health field. For example, they may focus on infectious disease or on occupational health. Other areas of focus include substance abuse, chronic disease, child health, bioterrorism, and more.
Nature of the Work
The nature of a state epidemiologist’s work will vary depending on what is happening at any given moment. They may spend time gathering samples and data in the field, then move into a lab setting to run tests and exams. Then, they could spend days in the office reviewing information, compiling data, and generating reports. Visiting meetings and conferences will be common as well, as well meeting with others in the public health sector to help develop better solutions to issues that arise.
The state epidemiologist will likely be employed by the government. However, they’ll work out of a lab or research center – albeit one that is funded by their state.
Education and Training
In order to become a state epidemiologist you’ll need to earn a master’s degree from a graduate school. Usually, earning a master’s in epidemiology is the only way to find employment. In particular, the Masters in Public Health with a Specialization in Epidemiology is the most common method of entering the field. However, there are those who have entered the role through other paths.
You’ll study things like statistics, biometrics, application of data, biological sciences, public health, math, and more during your time earning your degree, and all of these are important for those working in this field.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, state epidemiologists can expect to earn an average of about $65,000 per year or roughly $31.00 per hour. The demand for these professionals is expected to grow at a rate of about 10 percent over the next decade, a rate that is on target with the national average for all salaries.