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What Epidemiologists Do

Epidemiologists investigate the causes of disease and other public health problems to prevent them from spreading or from happening again. They report their findings to public policy officials and to the general public.


Epidemiologists typically do the following:

Epidemiologists collect and analyze data to investigate health issues. For example, an epidemiologist might collect and analyze demographic data to determine who is at the highest risk for a particular disease.

Research epidemiologists typically work for universities. Applied epidemiologists work with governments, addressing health crises directly. The most common problem both types of epidemiologists work on is infectious diseases, but they examine other public health issues, as well.

Epidemiologists who work in private industry commonly work for health insurance companies or pharmaceutical companies. Those in non-profit companies often do public advocacy work.

According to a 2009 national survey by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, local government epidemiologists study one or more of the following public health areas:

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition