What is an Epidemiologist

Epidemiologists are health care professionals who investigate the causes and patterns of disease or injury in humans. Their overall purpose is to reduce or eliminate the risk and occurrence of negative health outcomes through creation of strong health policy, education within the community, and research.

Work Environment

Epidemiologists tend to work at state and local governmental health departments, often in offices or laboratories, or in hospitals, colleges, and universities. Some also do fieldwork, collecting samples and data for analyses, and conducting interviews with people.

As they do conduct interviews, some epidemiologists may come in to contact with infectious diseases, though it is rare for them to suffer from these potential contagions. As well, a strong tolerance for public work is necessary.

Work Schedule

Epidemiologists typically work full-time, involving a forty-hour work week. Those conducting interviews or collecting samples may find a need to work more than this, or work outside of standard working hours, however for the most part, they will take part in the normal nine-to-five. 

How Much do Epidemiologists Make

The average annual epidemiologist salary is $73,040. The average salary is calculated by adding all the wages within the occupation and divid that value by the total number of employees. Individuals who fall in the lowest 10% of all epidemiologists are expected to earn less than $42,560 each year whereas those with more experience, in the top 10% pay bracket, can expect to take home well above $111,080.

Epidemiologist Salary: Quick Summary

2013 Mean Salary$73,040 per year
$35.11 per hour
Top 10% Salary$111,080 per year
$53.41 per hour
Bottom 10% Salary$42,560 per year
$20.46 per hour
Number of Jobs, 20135,350

Epidemiologist Job Outlook and Prospects

The job outlook for epidemiologists in the coming ten years is expected to be mildly healthy, with a forecasted 10 percent job growth from 2012 to 2022. This is about on par with the average for all occupations. As there are currently about 5,300 epidemiologists currently employed, this translates to about 530 new jobs; while not a huge number, it is still a growing field, and the chances of employment are strong.

Epidemiologist Salary: Factors and Influences

The mean annual salary of a epidemiologists is $73,040, which includes a range from $42,560 to $111,080. Their wages are affected by many factors, including education, experience, and the industry in which they work. The greatest factor influencing an epidemiologist’s salary, however, is the geographic location in which they work, offering differences of nearly $70,000.

Education and Specialization 

Epidemiologists require, at minimum, a master’s degree from an accredited institution. Often, this will be a master’s in public health (MPH), though there is potential for other degrees to qualify one. Some pursue a doctorate in epidemiology, further qualifying them for the field, and particularly for higher-level work within it.

Those that do pursue a doctoral-level degree will see commensurate wage gains. The greater knowledge base and ability within the field makes one an ideal and sought-after candidate. That being said, the salary for those with a master’s degree is not insubstantial.

Specialization is less of a direct factor in an epidemiologist’s salary, though it does dictate the industry worked, and as such, can be considered a secondary factor. Potential fields include clinical epidemiology, health services research, population and public health, and health technology assessment, among others.

Experience and Position 

Experience is one of the most important factors in determining the salary of an epidemiologist, bringing a difference of more than $60,000; the starting wage tends to be between $40,000 and $50,000, however the highest paid tend to be those who have worked the longest, and earn more than $111,000.

Position can also be a factor, though to much lesser extent; every department will need a head to guide it, and those in a managerial position will tend to receive higher wages for the added work load. 


Industry worked can have a significant impact on their salaries as well. Those working for a state or local government will tend to earn below the average, at $64,180 and $64,600 respectively, whereas those working in specialty hospitals earn much more, at $81,950. Working in computer systems design and related services is quite lucrative, at $100,200, but scientific research and development services have the highest wages at $102,510. 


Location is the most important factor in an epidemiologist’s salary, and that can be asserted even without enough data for the Bureau of Labor and Statistics to know the salaries in every state. More than half are represented, though, and show a range of $37,470 (Puerto Rico) to $104,300 (North Carolina). New Jersey has the second highest wages, at $99,730, followed by Massachusetts at $88,640, and Nevada at $87,590. Washington finishes the top five, at $86,150.

The metropolitan level allows for an even more focused look at regional gains, with Raleigh-Cary, NC offering $110,650, and Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO showing $109,910. The third highest metropolitan wage for which there is data is San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA, at $92,070.

Epidemiologist Salary