Social epidemiologists study health, well-being, diseases, and the causes of disease using epidemiology and social science. Typically, these professionals focus on individual or group socioeconomic characteristics (such as income, workplace conditions or environmental factors) and how these contribute to or prevent positive health outcomes. While many social epidemiologists are drawn to the field by the chance to help the public or to satisfy scientific curiosities, the profession also provides job security and above average monetary compensation.
Like many other fields, the salaries earned by social epidemiologists often vary based on their education. While a bachelor's degree in a biological science may secure a social epidemiology position, a master's degree in public health is required for many jobs and will open up more professional opportunities.
However, for the most lucrative social epidemiology positions, a doctorate is required. Social epidemiologists with doctoral degrees often work at the largest facilities and take on the most responsibilities, as well as salaries ranging from $80,000 to $137,000.
While less experienced social epidemiologists do not earn six-figure salaries, they still earn higher starting salaries than the national per capita income. Social epidemiologists with less than one year of experience can expect to make $36,000 to $52,000 per year, while starting social epidemiologists with a master's degree in public health can expect to make up to $63,000 annually.
Social epidemiologists work in a variety of settings and for a variety of employers, so positions are available all over the country. According to reports by Inner Body, careers in social epidemiology are expected to grow by 14 percent from 2006 to 2016. Social epidemiologists work for universities, hospitals, private clinics, prescription drug companies, laboratories, municipalities, state governments or the federal government, typically conducting public health research or outreach education.
Social epidemiology can be fulfilling on more than just a financial level. In an interview with the Office of Science Education, epidemiologist W. Tun said, "One of the greatest rewards of my job is having an impact on public health programs and policies." The profession allows for the opportunity to actively seek the cures for and causes of disease and the potential to improve the quality of life for people affected by various health problems.