California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

Epidemiologists in California

May also be called: Chronic Disease Epidemiologists; Communicable Disease Specialists; Environmental Epidemiologists; Infection Control Practitioners; Medical Epidemiologists; Nurse Epidemiologists; Pharmacoepidemiologists; and Public Health Epidemiologists

Specialties within this occupation include: Research Epidemiologists; and Clinical Epidemiologists

What Would I Do?

Epidemiologists are medical scientists who investigate and describe the causes and spread of disease and other health problems to prevent them from spreading or from happening again. They may also develop the means for prevention or control.

Epidemiologists typically work regular hours in offices or laboratories, but longer hours are not uncommon. Many Epidemiologists work independently in private industry, universities, or government laboratories. Some Epidemiologists may work directly with individual patients or larger groups as they administer drugs and monitor patients during clinical trials.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Epidemiologist may appeal to those who enjoy working with ideas. Epidemiologists do an extensive amount of thinking, searching for facts, and figuring out problems.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

The median wage in 2020 for Epidemiologists in California is $94,443 annually, or $45.40 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

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Annual Wages for 2020Low
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Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2020 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
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Epidemiologists typically receive benefit packages including health and life insurance, annual vacation and sick leave, and retirement plans. Independent consultants will need to pay for their own insurance and retirement plans.

What is the Job Outlook?

An increasing focus on monitoring patients at hospitals and health care centers to ensure positive patient outcomes may contribute to job growth for Epidemiologists. In addition, a heightened awareness of bioterrorism and rare, but infectious diseases such as West Nile Virus or severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) should spur demand for these workers. As hospitals enhance their infection control programs, many may seek to boost the quality and quantity of their staff.

How Do I Qualify?

Epidemiologists typically need at least a master’s degree in public health, but some work requires a Ph.D. or medical degree. Students planning careers as Epidemiologists should have a bachelor’s degree in a biological science. In addition to required courses in biology and chemistry, undergraduates should study allied disciplines, such as computer science, mathematics, engineering, and physics. Epidemiologists who work in hospitals and health care centers often must have a medical degree with specific training in infectious diseases. Epidemiologists who administer drugs must be licensed physicians.

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. College placement offices, company recruiting events, job fairs, and online job search sites are also good places to look. Career associations sometimes offer job openings on their websites. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Learn More About Epidemiologists