Epidemiologist Kaimātai Tahumaero

Epidemiologists study the causes, transmission and distribution of diseases in population groups to inform public health programmes and prevent the spread of disease. 

Employers prefer epidemiologists to be registered with the International Epidemiological Association. 

Epidemiologists may do some or all of the following:

  • design and conduct observational or intervention studies or surveys to collect data 
  • analyse data to find the causes of diseases or who is at risk of a particular disease
  • research trends in disease survivors and identify effective treatments
  • communicate findings to health practitioners, policymakers and the public
  • plan and evaluate public health programmes
  • talk to the public about health risks and healthy living. 

Epidemiologists also attend and present at national and international conferences and events, and publish research. 

Useful Experience

Useful experience for epidemiologists includes:

  • working with a large amount of data
  • experience in the health industry
  • experience in a statistics-related role
  • work on an epidemiological project. 

Personal Qualities

Epidemiologists need to be:

  • good at teamwork
  • able to think critically and observe patterns in statistical data
  • good communicators
  • accurate and detail-focused.


Epidemiologists need to have knowledge of:

  • diseases and how they affect groups of people
  • maths and statistical methods
  • using large databases and statistical software packages
  • quantitative research skills including study design and data analysis.



  • usually work regular business hours, but may have to work long or irregular hours
  • work in offices and laboratories, or in the community to support an emergency response
  • may travel to do fieldwork, carry out surveys, collect samples or support community education.

Subject Recommendations

A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. Useful subjects include maths, biology, chemistry, health, social studies, economics and digital technologies. 

Epidemiologists can earn around $50K-$86K per year.

Pay for epidemiologists varies depending on skills, experience and their employer.

  • Graduate epidemiologists usually start on $50,000 to $86,000 a year.
  • Mid-level epidemiologists usually earn between $75,000 and $112,000. 
  • Senior epidemiologists who work as team leaders or managers can earn from $96,000 to $175,000. 

Source: Healthcare Salary Info, 2020; and ESR, 2020. 

Epidemiologists may progress to senior positions or project leadership, or move into research roles. 

Epidemiologists may specialise in:

  • infectious diseases
  • chronic diseases
  • maternal and child health
  • public health preparedness and emergency response
  • environmental health
  • injury
  • occupational health
  • oral health. 

Years Of Training

5 years of training required.

To become an epidemiologist you need to:

  • complete a Bachelor’s degree in a biological or health science, or maths and statistics, and
  • complete a Masters or PhD in public health, majoring in epidemiology.