How to Become an Infection Control Coordinator

Should I Become an Infection Control Coordinator?

Infection control coordinators, also called infection control practitioners, are health professionals who work in the isolation, control, and prevention of infectious diseases. They may conduct studies to gain more information about the prevalence of diseases or how they spread, analyze bodily fluids, and/or communicate to the public information about infectious diseases.

Work environments for infection control coordinators may vary widely, depending on their specific role in the disease-control industry. Some work from an office setting while others conduct research in a laboratory. Some travel may be required, especially of those who work for the government. Most such workers have full-time schedules and enjoy regular hours; some overtime may be required during public health emergencies.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Minimum of a bachelor's degree in a health-related field
Degree Fields Epidemiology, public health, nursing
Licensure and/or Certification Registered nurses must be licensed in all 50 states; certification in Infection Prevention and Control is optional
Experience 2-5 years of experience
Key Skills Written and oral communication, reading comprehension, problem-solving, critical thinking and analytical skills, knowledge of medical terminology, biology and mathematics; some positions require knowledge of nursing procedures
Salary (2014) $67,420 yearly (median for all epidemiologists)

Sources: ONet OnLine, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Job postings (February 2013)

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Individuals who are interested in infection control must first earn a bachelor's degree. Students usually need to select a scientific discipline like biology, anatomy or chemistry. Earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is another possible path to becoming an infection control coordinator and can also qualify students to work as a registered nurse (RN).

Success Tips:

  • Take advanced math and science classes. Some graduate programs in epidemiology require applicants to pursue advanced coursework before applying. Students may want to complete multiple calculus and organic chemistry courses as undergraduates in order to prepare themselves for graduate school applications.
  • Consider earning a graduate degree. Although graduate education is usually not required for infection control positions, some employers prefer applicants who hold a master's degree in nursing or epidemiology.

Step 2: Obtain Required Licensing

Although not all workers in health-related professions are legally required to be licensed, registered nurses must be licensed in every part of the U.S. After completing an accredited BSN program, nurses can take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

Step 3: Accumulate Experience

Most infection control professionals need at least two years of work experience, some of which may be gained through internship or clinical practicum opportunities. Other jobs require that infection control coordinators hold prior management or leadership experience.

Success Tip:

  • Earn voluntary certification. Certification in Infection Prevention and Control is offered by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC). APIC's certification exam is administered by the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology. To take the exam, professionals must have a bachelor's degree and prior experience.
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