Powerful Geography




Main Topic: Human Geography
Secondary Topic: Places and Regions 

Overview: Epidemiologists are scientists that study the spread of infectious diseases with the goal of containing the current outbreak and preventing disease outbreaks reoccurring in the future. Epidemiologists will also analyze risk factors that may potentially make certain populations more vulnerable to infectious disease while conducting infectious disease surveillance. Epidemiologists are required to use geographical analysis and often use GIS to conduct epidemiological research on at-risk populations. Geographers already have developed these key skills, making them well suited for public health research. A strong understanding of human and physical geography is key in order to prevent the spread of many types of infectious diseases. Epidemiologists investigate patterns and causes of disease and injury to reduce risk or occurrences of negative health outcomes. They plan and direct studies health problems by collecting and analyzing data. Epidemiologists will then communicate their findings to health practitioners, policy makers, and health educators to help manage public health. Geographers are well-suited to be epidemiologists because they know how to collect and analyze data putting it in a spatial context. Individuals with the ability to use GIS or other spatial geotechnologies will benefit this field through analyzing and developing maps with collected data. They will typically work for government agencies like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention or the National Institutes for health. They may work at universities or laboratories. This field is expected to grow in the coming decade with need growing in hospitals for programs like the National Healthcare Safety Network.

Geographers at work: Physical and Human Geographers, GIS Specialists, Health geographers 

Recommended College Courses: Environmental Management, Geographic Information SystemsDisaster Management, Population Geography, Quantitative Methods, Introduction to Cultural Geography, World Geography, Cartography, Research Methods in Geography, Urban Geography, Community and Regional Planning, Political Geography, Cities and Urban Design, Maps and Mapmaking, American Ethnic Geography

Skills: Regional analysis, geographical analysis, working with census data, spatial statistics, GIS and geospatial technology, Human resource management, Qualitative and quantitative methods, Field methods, Local geography

Occupation Group: Life, Physical, and Social Science

Learn more about Epidemiologists from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/epidemiologists.htm#tab-2

Written by Kaleigh Shuler


Epidemiologists are public health workers who investigate patterns and causes of disease and injury.
Epidemiologists are public health workers who investigate patterns and causes of disease and injury.