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Veterinary Epidemiologist: Job Description, Duties, Outlook and Salary

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a veterinary epidemiologist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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Veterinary epidemiologists specialize in understanding infectious diseases in animals. They conduct research with the goal of discovering important information, such as what a disease's agent is and what the best treatments or control measures might be. A master's degree is usually the education requirement for veterinary epidemiologists.

Essential Information

Using cause and effect analysis of hosts, veterinary epidemiologists characterize diseases in animals and humans. This helps them understand the disease, so they can see its impact and how it's transmitted. These professionals work with general veterinarians and vet techs to gather all of their information. This data is used to identify the infectious agent. Then, they consult with veterinarians to develop some type of treatment plan. Those interested in becoming one of these professionals typically get their master's. Coursework includes statistical methods, public health, survey design and causal analysis. This career is ideal for those looking to use their critical-thinking skills.

Career Epidemiologist
Education Requirements Master's degree
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% (for all epidemiologists)
Mean Salary (2015)* $76,900 (for all epidemiologists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Veterinary Epidemiologist Job Description

Veterinary epidemiologists characterize diseases in animals and humans in the hope of better understanding the infectious agent. This commonly involves making a thorough cause and effect analysis of the host, the agent and the environment in which both reside. These factors allow the epidemiologist to reach accurate conclusions about how the disease is transmitted, what treatments control the disease and which individuals are most at risk.

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Duties of a Veterinary Epidemiologist

The first main duty associated with this occupation involves gathering data on disease hosts. Alone, this may be an intensive and time-consuming process. To expedite this procedure, epidemiologists often work with general veterinarians and vet techs in acquiring animal health records. Records - which may include age, level of exposure or even genetic makeup - can give the epidemiologist clues to the disease.

The second duty involves using analytical techniques to discover the infectious agent. Since epidemiologists look at population demographics, the records gathered from a sample population become essential in this endeavor. Epidemiologists often use the host, the agent and the environment as crucial factors in characterizing the disease. For instance, a veterinary epidemiologist characterizing an unknown agent may look at animal hosts who develop the affliction faster than others.

With careful analysis and research, epidemiologists come to a general conclusion about the characteristics of the agent. While the agent may not be specifically known as a virus strain, epidemiologists need to formulate a conclusion that allows the disease to be controlled. Veterinary epidemiologists often use this information in counseling general vets on treatment options.

Outlook and Salary Info for Veterinary Epidemiologists

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't provide career information for veterinary epidemiologists specifically, the employment outlook for those entering epidemiology is good, with an expected 6% increase in job openings reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) over the years 2014-2024. Emerging animal-transmitted diseases such as the West Nile virus and avian influenza have prompted a need for veterinarian epidemiologists. This occupation sometimes involves work in a government agency such as the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) or Food and Drug Administration.

According to the BLS, epidemiologists made a mean annual salary of $76,900 as of May 2015.

Veterinary epidemiologists conduct intensive research and analyses of diseases in order to better understand them, which includes sifting through animal health records to collect data. They often work in conjunction with vet techs or general vets to help them gain information for their research. Diseases such as the West Nile virus and bird flu have contributed to the steady need for professionals in this field, according to the BLS.

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