How To Become An Epidemiologist In Australia?

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Students want to know how they can become epidemiologists in Australia.


Does health, statistics, research, and community work interest you? Then, consider working as an Epidemiologist.


Epidemiology is a crucial discipline of public health. Trained epidemiologists study the cause and frequency of diseases and health events in human populations. They contribute to saving lives, promoting good health, and enhancing the quality of life of the entire society.


Education is a significant component of becoming an epidemiologist. You must complete a bachelor's degree in epidemiology, health promotion, forensic medicine, health and biomedical sciences, or social sciences.


The article discusses an epidemiologist's job profile, skills, academic requirements, career opportunities, salary, degrees, and earnings and the pathway to launch a role in this profession.



1. What Is Epidemiology?


Epidemiology encompasses medicine, health sciences, social sciences, statistics, and analysis. The field holds paramount significance worldwide to protect the health and safety of the entire community.


It studies the cause and frequency of occurrence of diseases/health events in varying groups of people. The thorough study and research of diseases help plan and execute strategies to stop them from transmission.


The disease findings or epidemiological information is used in patient management and as a guide for government officials, public health policymakers, and the public.



2. What Is An Epidemiologist?


Epidemiologists are research scientists investigating the transmission and control of diseases and other health-related conditions in defined populations.


They study random population samples and compare age demographics to determine risk factors and probable outcomes of varying age groups.


Epidemiologists educate the public about methods to preserve and enhance public health. Popular national bodies where epidemiologists work include the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and the National Institute of Health.



3. What Do Epidemiologists Study?


Epidemiology saves lives and enhances society's quality of life and health. They analyse disease trends and a wide range of health issues in a group.


They study the interactions of pathogens and the impact of vaccines on the pathogens and the infected body. In addition to it, they also conduct research and contribute in the following areas such as:


  • Skin disorders

  • Food allergies

  • Genetics of viruses

  • Bioterrorism

  • Maternal health 

  • Child health

  • The short-term and long-term impact of drugs on patients

  • Acute diseases

  • Environmental Health

  • Occupational health

  • Injury

  • Pathology of cardiovascular ailments

  • Substance abuse

  • Oral Health



4. Are Epidemiologists Doctors?


No. Epidemiologists are not doctors. Though they study and decipher the sources and causes of diseases like medical doctors, but are not considered doctors. What distinguishes them from a doctor is the treatment.


A doctor performs medical examinations on patients to detect diseases or prescribe medications. On the other hand, an epidemiologist works in the "backend" to discover the primary cause of pathogens or understand the working of medicines.


Epidemiologists advise medical doctors to provide patients with better and continued care. They focus on researching the health conditions that impact humankind and not on their treatment.



5. What Do Epidemiologists Do?


Epidemiologists study eruptions of diseases, the causes, risk factors, locations, and ways in which communities are affected. This analysis is crucial to prevent future outbreaks.


The day-to-day work duties of an epidemiologist involve the following:


  • Conduct surveys and interviews to gather and evaluate information to understand a public health issue

  • Collect human blood and tissue samples and analyse them to identify the origin of the pathogens 

  • Understand the relation between the transmission of infectious diseases and the vectors and cultures in which they spread. 

  • Discover and drive realistic real-world, and sustainable solutions to address critical public health issues.

  • Plan studies to determine the cause and risk factors of human/ animal disease, life cycle, transmission modes, prevention, and treatment

  • Create an action plan for potential health crises.

  • Create reports and communicate research findings detailing potential threats to the academic sector, policymakers, public health media, health agencies, and health practitioners 

  • Manage health plans and programs for preventing risks concerning public health and safety.

  • Convey risk and impact public health responses to control chronic ailments or pandemics.

  • Oversee analysis, planning, surveillance, and improvement of public healthcare programs

  • Inspect the cause and location of injuries in the general environment, work settings, or sports.

  • Work closely with health professionals such as oncologists and biologists to enhance health outcomes and develop effective treatments.



6. Essential Skills For Epidemiologists In Australia


You must possess the following skills to become an epidemiologist:


  • Excellent memory 

  • Curiosity 

  • Sound logical and inductive reasoning skills 

  • Critical thinking

  • An aptitude for research and analysis

  • Mathematical and Statistical proficiency

  • Computer literacy

  • Multitasking

  • God problem-solving skills

  • Good verbal and written communication skills

  • Able to work independently or as a team 

  • Detail-oriented

  • Teaching skills



7. Required Qualifications For An Epidemiologist in Australia


Epidemiologists need medical qualifications as they focus on highly specialised areas. Many epidemiology study options are available, ranging from bachelor's degrees, certificates, diplomas, and PhD programs.


Here is the requisite qualification to become an epidemiologist in Australia:


  • Complete an undergraduate degree in medicine, biomedical sciences, health science, or science focusing on statistics, mathematics, sociology, psychology, or public health. Entry-level graduate certificates in epidemiology, like a Graduate Certificate of Epidemiology, generally take six months of full-time study.


  • Complete a postgraduate qualification in epidemiology, public health, or biostatistics. Some recommended options are a Master of Epidemiology, Master of Health and Humans Services Management, Master of Public Health, Master of Health Economics or a Graduate Diploma in Epidemiology.


  • Those aspiring to become proficient statisticians and researchers may consider earning a research degree like a Doctor of Philosophy with public health as a specialisation.



8. Steps To Become An Epidemiologist In Australia


To become an epidemiologist, you need a master's degree in public health, focusing on epidemiology. Here is the general pathway to get started in this role.



Step 1: Complete a Bachelor's Degree


Most Australian universities and colleges don't conduct undergraduate programs in Epidemiology. Aspiring epidemiologists should consider completing a Bachelor's degree in Epidemiology-related fields like Biostatistics, Public Health, Medicine, or Biology is beneficial.


You can also find Certificate programs for specific subjects within Epidemiology. Undertaking these courses helps students remain up-to-date on the developments in the field. One can study these courses at all levels of education as part of their continuing education.



Step 2: Earn A Master's Qualification


A postgraduate qualification helps students develop and refine their thought processes and analytical skills. It helps them analyse the causes and transmission of disease and develop its prevention and control methods.


After gaining a bachelor's degree in epidemiology, obtain a master's degree in public health, majoring in epidemiology, biostatistics, immunology, or behavioural studies. Most Master's Degree courses require the completion of a one-year internship.



Step 3: Consider A Doctoral Degree


Epidemiologists who wish to direct research projects need a research degree. Students undertaking a doctoral program can specialise in cancer research, zoonotic infectious diseases, ageing, cardiovascular disease, genetics, and environmental causes.


A doctorate in epidemiology comprises 1 to 3 years of study with a doctoral dissertation. They may work on a public health research project under the supervision of expert supervisors. By earning a doctorate, an epidemiologist can explore more opportunities in teaching, research work, etc.



9. Epidemiologist Courses In Australia


A bachelor's degree in Epidemiology and related fields helps students develop, execute, and analyse policies and programs for health promotion and disease prevention. 


With a global orientation, students examine Australian and worldwide health challenges. After completing the program, they can confidently apply their knowledge in real-world public health settings.


The Master of Epidemiology is ideal for students who wish to contribute to epidemiological research in healthcare. The program helps develop and improve their analytical and research skills to build a solid epidemiological base. 


Currently, the University of Melbourne offers an online Master Of Epidemiology in Australia to help students learn at their own pace and convenience. 


List of Epidemiology Courses in Australia:


  • Master of Epidemiology - The University of Melbourne, The University of Queensland, Western Sydney University

  • Master of Public Health – University of New South Wales, Deakin University, University of Sydney, University of Melbourne, University of Western Australia, Edith Cowan University, Federation University, CQUniversity

  • Master of Science in Medicine (Clinical Epidemiology) - University of Sydney 

  • Master of Clinical Epidemiology - University of Newcastle

  • Graduate Certificate in Clinical Epidemiology - University of Newcastle

  • Graduate Certificate of Epidemiology Intelligence – Deakin University

  • Graduate Certificate in Infectious Diseases Intelligence – UNSW Sydney

  • Graduate Certificate of Epidemiology – Monash University (ONLINE Course)

  • Master of Infectious Diseases - University of Western Australia

  • Graduate Diploma in Infectious Diseases - University of Western Australia



10. How Long Does It Take To Become An Epidemiologist In Australia?


Considering the general qualification route, it takes six or more years to work as an epidemiologist in Australia.


  • A bachelor's degree in Epidemiology (4 years)

  • A Master's degree in Epidemiology (2 years)


Candidates can choose to advance their learning and secure senior positions in the healthcare sector by earning a 6-year PhD qualification in Epidemiology.



11. Work Conditions Of Epidemiologists


Most epidemiologists work standard hours but may require working overtime or irregular hours when dealing with public health emergencies.


Epidemiologists generally work full-time in scientific research, publicly or privately held hospitals, laboratories, and health departments in state/local governments, colleges, and universities. A few epidemiologists also conduct fieldwork to gather samples and conduct interviews for analyses.


While working outdoors, there are possibilities for epidemiologists to come in contact with infectious diseases and fall sick. Due to this reason, an epidemiologist wears a protective suit, lab coat, hand gloves, medical-grade face masks, goggles, and helmets to stay protected against infections and injuries.



12. Employment Opportunities For Epidemiologist In Australia


Epidemiology is a vast and growing field in the public health sector. The primary role is to identify ways to control and prevent communicable diseases and educate humanity in an academic environment. The epidemiology job market is generally better than other healthcare occupations in Australia.


A qualified epidemiologist can explore various rewarding careers in health services, research institutes, private health-related industries, and government and non-government organisations.


They can work in various exciting roles. These include disease prevention, epidemiology, public health research, academia, health promotion, policy advisory, and community engagement.


Agencies like the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration also recruit epidemiologists to work in the federal government. Epidemiologists can also work as pharmaceutical epidemiologists for the NSW government.



Areas of Specialisations


Experienced epidemiologists can specialise and advance their professional journey in any of the following areas:


  • Biostatistician

  • Disaster prevention manager

  • Nutritional epidemiologist

  • Environmental epidemiologist

  • Clinical trial conductor

  • Genetic epidemiologist

  • Global health epidemiologist

  • Neuroepidemiologist

  • Geriatric epidemiologist

  • Social researcher

  • Psychiatric epidemiologist

  • Women's health epidemiologist



13. Job Prospects Of An Epidemiologist In Australia


In the COVID-19 outbreak, epidemiologists are considered the most crucial professionals for the safety of society. They track illness patterns in humankind and execute plans to halt its further propagation.


Their global research has helped develop COVID-19 vaccines and safeguard the future against the progression of disaster. Thus, a career in epidemiology is a worthwhile and respectable profession for students worldwide.


Looking at how the virus mutates, there could be a few more pandemics that the world may have to deal with in the future. The Job Outlook website projects a "Strong" expansion of Epidemiologist jobs in Australia in the future.


Moreover, continued technological advancements in medical record-keeping will help epidemiologists track demographic data, health consequences, etc., more accurately and effectively.


Innovative mapping and statistical software will help them produce improved analyses that will, in turn, increase their usefulness and demand in the healthcare industry.



14. How Much Does An Epidemiologist Earn In Australia?


The average epidemiologist's salary in Australia is $110,329 per year, or an equivalent of $73.35 per hour.



Salary Based on Experience


In an early career (1-4 years of experience), an epidemiologist earns AU$97,845 per year. An epidemiologist's salary in mid-career (5-9 years of experience) is AU$100,000 per year.



Salary Based on Location


  • Melbourne, Victoria: $134,450 per year

  • Sydney, New South Wales: $123,182 per year

  • East Perth, Western Australia: $121,324 per year

  • Darwin Northern Territory: $107,087 per year



15. Conclusion


The Epidemiologist profession is an exciting career for those passionate about improving health and quality of life. Using your knowledge, skills, research, and experience to help save countless lives is a rewarding aspect of the profession. 


Epidemiology is also a growing career that will remain in demand for several years.


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