Epidemiologist Salary: What You Can Earn and How to Qualify

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Explore epidemiologist qualifications, salary averages, and earnings while working for government or private companies.

[Featured Image]:  Epidemiologist, wearing a dark blue uniform, is sitting in a lab room, working on a laptop computer, reviewing and analyzing information on a human disease outbreak.

Salaries for an epidemiologist vary depending on the type of employment. Non-government employees generally earn more than their government counterparts, but there are more jobs in government than in the private sector. 

To qualify for a career in epidemiology, you’ll usually need to complete a bachelor's degree program and obtain a master’s degree. Some entry-level positions may be available with a bachelor’s degree, but a master’s degree is often the minimum required.

What does an epidemiologist do?

Epidemiologists are health professionals who study human diseases and disease outbreaks and how they spread. They use the information to find ways to treat the disease and stop its spread.

An epidemiologist also:

  • Studies the causes of diseases and other health threats

  • Collects and analyzes data related to public health  

  • Researches disease trends in specific demographics

  • Supervises other health care professionals

How much do epidemiologists make?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for epidemiologists is $78,830 as of May 2021. Those in the lowest 10 percent of earnings earn less than $50,100, while the highest 10 percent earn more than $130,050 [1].

Read more: Epidemiologist: Duties, Salary, and How to Become One

Factors affecting salary

As you can see, the salary you can earn as an epidemiologist has quite a range. Several factors influence what your salary will be. These often include your level of education, the certifications you hold, and how many years of experience you have as an epidemiologist. The employer you work for, the industry it is in, and its location can also affect your salary.

Education and specialty

A master’s degree is usually the minimum educational requirement to become an epidemiologist. Some epidemiologists hold doctorate degrees, which typically qualify you for a higher salary. During your academic training, you can specialize in a specific area of epidemiology, affecting the coursework you'll take, whether or not you'll need a doctorate and your salary.

Types of epidemiologists

Take a look at some of the types of epidemiologists and the average annual salary for each:

• Infection control epidemiologist: $98,022 [2]

• Chronic disease epidemiologist: $87,134 [3]

• Environmental epidemiologist: $65,680 [4]

• Research epidemiologist: $92,609 [5]

• Epidemiology investigator:$98,293 [6]

• Clinical epidemiologist: $128,246 [7]



A career in epidemiology does not require certification or licensing. However, receiving optional certificates can often increase your chances of new positions or with employers that offer a higher salary. The Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiologists and the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology offer certifications. 

In addition, epidemiologists in clinical and academic roles can apply for licensing or certification with the American Medical Association (AMA).

Level of experience

Many epidemiologist positions require the applicant to have work experience. This can be through completing an internship, residency, or employment. An epidemiologist’s salary can range from $67,000 to $117,000, depending on experience [8]:

  • 0 to 1 year:  $65,630

  • 1 to 3 years: $70,291

  • 4 to 6 years: $75,400

  • 7 to 9 years: $80,074

  • 10 to 14 years: $90,981

  • 15+ years: $100,558

Employer and industry

The industry you choose to work in is an important factor affecting an epidemiologist's salary. Epidemiologists who work for private corporations and services can make as much as twice the salary of those who work for state and local governments, based on median annual salary data collected by the BLS [1]:

  • Scientific research and development: $126,470

  • State, local, and private hospitals: $83,230

  • Colleges, universities, and professional schools: $78,410 

  • Local government: $74,370

  • State government: $66,840

According to the BLS, state governments account for 36 percent of epidemiologist positions, and local governments account for 22 percent of positions as of 2021 [1]. These do not include education and hospital positions. 

State, local, and private hospitals employ 14 percent of epidemiologists; colleges, universities, and professional schools employ 8 percent. Scientific research and development account for 6 percent of epidemiological positions.

According to Glassdoor, some of the top employers hiring epidemiologists are the CDC, IQVIA, General Dynamics Information Technology, The John Hopkins University, and state-level public health departments as of March 2023 [9].


According to the BLS, the states with the highest salaries for epidemiologists are Washington, with an average mean wage of $131, 220 followed by New Jersey, with an average mean salary of $129,260 [10].

New York State, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania have mean wages of $125,390, $102,820, and $101,570, respectively, as of May 2021 [10].

Professional development

As an epidemiologist, you’ll benefit from attending workshops and joining professional organizations to keep current with changes and emerging public health threats. You can complete a PhD program in your desired field if you seek career advancement. You’ll also want to keep current with the studies, publications, and training manuals. If you decide to pursue certification or licensure, keep your credentials current by meeting the requirements regularly.

Next steps

Epidemiologists are essential to the health and safety of the public. Working in epidemiology and public health can be professionally and financially rewarding. If you enjoy researching disease origins and studying ways to control the spread of communicable pathogens, a career as an epidemiologist is rewarding. 

Before committing to an educational program, why not explore more about a career as an epidemiologist on Coursera? 

Article sources


US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Epidemiologists: Occupational Outlook Handbook, www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/epidemiologists.htm#tab-5." Accessed March 3, 2023.

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