There are many options when trying to get your foot in the door with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The education level one must have attained prior to an entry-level job at the CDC is largely dependent on which department they wish to work in, but an MPH is a common education level for CDC employees.
This article will talk briefly about how to work for the CDC and what to expect when looking for jobs at the center for disease control. We will also provide a general overview of the agency along with CDC salaries and various career paths available within the agency.
What Is the CDC?
The CDC bills itself as the nation’s health protection agency. Its goal rests in saving lives and protecting citizens from health threats. CDC stands for Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and this US national health agency reports to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, it is tasked with protecting the safety and health of the public by preventing and controlling disease, disability, and injury in the US and abroad.
The CDC is primarily focused on:
- Infectious diseases
- Non-infectious diseases like diabetes and obesity
- Environmental health
- Injury prevention
- Foodborne pathogens
- Occupational Health and Safety
- Overall health promotion.
The CDC is both a research and educational agency and a founding member of the International Association of National Public Health Institutes.
How Big Is the CDC?
The organization is vast, with close to 11,000 employees and an annual budget of over $11.1 billion.
As a whole, it comprises numerous Centers, Institutes, and Offices (CIOs). There are around 20 separate groups in all, each with a specific area of expertise in various health issues and threats. A few CIO’s you might be familiar with include:
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
- Center for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support
- Office of Laboratory Science and Safety
- Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services
- National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
- National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
- National Center for Health Statistics
- National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
General Qualifications for CDC Research Jobs
The Centers for Disease Control is an international public health organization that looks for many of the same qualifications you would expect from similar agencies. In addition to your Master of Public Health Degree, a few of the general qualifications include:
- Analytical Skills
- Ability to Work on a Team
- Visionary Thinking
- Attention to Details
- Organizational Skills
- Ability to Multitask
- Strong Communication, Writing, and Speaking Skills
- Interpersonal Skills
Working for the CDC will provide entry-level workers with the training and knowledge to receive invaluable experience and offer them a chance on an exciting career path with the CDC. For a graduate with an MPH degree, there are several specific job opportunities to look into. Below is a brief list of frequent entry-level positions from the CDC for those with a Master’s in Public Health.
See also: Choosing an MPH Specialization
CDC Public Health Jobs
Open to recent MPH graduates, this position offers experience in vital statistics, epidemiology, and health sciences. Cultivating and maintaining internal and external relationships to include national and international organizations is crucial to this position.
Cross-cultural communication skills are vital in this position since public health analysts typically work with several different demographics. Obtaining certificates in health and leadership can also increase a prospective candidate’s chances of landing a role in this field. A firm grasp of data, technology, and statistics is also helpful.
Given the CDC’s relationships with organizations worldwide, a particular background or interest in Global Health serves people in this position well. This is because it ensures proper coordination of an analysis of national and state activities regarding public health overall.
The minimum education requirement needed to get a position in public health analysis is a bachelor’s degree. However, many employers prefer candidates with a graduate degree in public health.
CDC Public Health Analyst Salary
The salary range for this position is $77,058 to $164,200 per year.
2. HEALTH SCIENTISTS
As a Health Scientist with the CDC, duties include identifying and analyzing public health issues and their impact on scientific operations critical to the public health community. They must also conduct specialized studies or projects for investigative purposes and work with agencies at a federal, state, local, and international level.
A health scientist position at the agency is considered a CDC research job. Those who land the post will be tasked with preparing samples and data to investigate causes of diseases or toxicity, creating and testing medical devices, and following the appropriate procedures necessary to maintain safety and avoid contamination.
Other tasks may include writing grant proposals to apply for funding from private or government agencies and developing programs that help improve health outcomes.
Those who want to land a position as a health scientist at the CDC will need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, biology, or a related field. Most will be expected to gain a graduate-level degree. As with many government jobs, there is a one-year probation period for new hires at this position.
CDC Health Scientist Salary
The salary range for this position is $91,631 to $140,765 annually.
Epidemiology is a growing focus in Public Health. Many healthcare professionals are finding careers in this niche field due to the opportunity to make a considerable positive impact. An Epidemiologist works to reduce negative health outcomes by recognizing and researching the causes of disease and injury among populations.
When a disease or outbreak occurs, Epidemiologists are at the front lines, trying to gather information about who is sick, their symptoms, and how they have been exposed. Developing and analyzing data are the main objectives of an epidemiologist. All their findings are published and made available to the public and policymakers.
Obtaining a position as an epidemiologist at the CDC requires advanced education. There is a two-year training program for those who have a history in epidemiological study. Still, applicants to the program need to have completed both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Additionally, a year of specialized experience in the field is required, along with a background check.
CDC Epidemiologist Salary
The average salary range for this position is $63,000 to $97,000 annually.
4. RESEARCH MICROBIOLOGISTS
Microbiologists are scientists who make a career out of studying microorganisms. They examine the characteristics of all things microscopic—viruses, bacteria, and fungi. They then attempt to understand the behavior of these microbes and how they impact human beings. The goal of a research microbiologist at the CDC is to find new approaches to combat disease.
Microbiologists might specialize in one or more areas, such as the environment, food, agriculture, or medicine. They may even work to develop enzymes, hormones, and vitamins.
Educational requirements for employment include a degree in MPH with majors in either Microbiology, Biology, Physical and Mathematical Sciences, and Chemistry or Organic Chemistry. The position involves conducting independent research studies on bacterial pathogens and developing strategies using updated molecular technologies.
Skills needed to be a research microbiologist are data analysis, self-direction, problem-solving, and networking with partnership development. Applicants must be proficient in oral and written communication.
CDC Research Microbiologist Salary
The average salary runs from $94,890 to $123,358 annually.
How Hard Is It To Get a Job At the CDC?
The difficulty of obtaining a job with the CDC will depend a lot on which position you are pursuing. A bachelor’s degree in your field is always necessary, but a Master of Public Health is typically the minimum requirement. You will want to plan early in your educational career by taking courses heavy in science, mathematics, and engineering.
Because you will be working for the United States government, you’ll need to pass an extensive background check, and in most cases, you must be a US citizen.
What Can I Expect From a Salary Working At the CDC?
The CDC pays well, and the average employee makes $73,000 annually. However, wages vary widely—from $43,000 to $125,000 a year, depending on the position. In 2018, CDC salaries were 43.6 percent higher than the average for government employees, so it’s a reasonably lucrative organization to work for.
Additionally, the benefits are excellent. All employees receive health coverage, life insurance, vacation time, sick leave, a d retirement plan, and social security coverage. In some cases, housing, travel, and subsistence allowances are made.
Special benefits are also available to all employees and include a vast range of recreational and community programs, including:
- Fitness and Exercise Programs
- Continuing Education Programs
- Credit Union
- Weight Management Programs
- Child Care Center
- Medical Clinic
See also: Public Health Salary
Getting a Job At the CDC
If you have your sights set on a career with the CDC, the following tips might help you realize your dreams.
Carefully Research the Career Paths Available
There are myriad career paths and types of jobs available at the CDC for those with an MPH degree. There is a need for healthcare administrators, emergency responders, behavioral scientists, trained biologists, medical officers, analysts, public health advisors, health scientists, human resource specialists, and more. The only way to know which path to pursue is to check out each one thoroughly and narrow them down to those that interest you the most.
Complete a Fellowship or Internship
One of the main ways prospective employees with a Master of Public Health degree can break into the organization is by doing an internship with the agency. Applicants need to be of legal age and must take the required courses in an accredited program. Students will need to send their applications and resumes and send their transcripts and verification forms that prove they are in school. Applications for fellowships are open at any level of study.
Since there are several CDC internship programs, you will need to check out the application process of the one you are interested in. For example, some are only available to graduate, doctoral, or med school students, while others are for veterinary students.
Check out 10 Schools for Best MPH Fellowships
Gain More Experience
In addition to finishing your education, one of the best ways to get a job with the CDC is to gain as much additional experience as possible. Many recent graduates are vying for the same positions within the agency, so you want to make your resume stand out by proving you have something everyone else does not. Look for externships, internships, and other programs in your local area to beef up your resume. You may even be able to gain credit towards your degree for completing these additional programs.
Apply and Follow the Instructions Carefully
The CDC has an official website listing all of the open positions at any given time, and it’s quite easy to begin the application process. You should start by creating an account and uploading your resume. Every time you see a position you are interested in, apply for it right on the website. If you are chosen to interview for the role, there will actually be a series of meetings, and you will be notified in an email about whether you’ve been awarded the position or not.
You will also need to attend an orientation that goes into more detail about your job responsibilities, the benefits package, and other information about the position.
See also: Public Health Careers
There are many reasons for getting a job with the CDC. If putting your MPH degree to work with a prestigious national organization is one of your goals, aim high and try to get your foot in the door with this agency.
The CDC has plenty of other opportunities and positions available to graduates with an MPH. They provide extensive training with hands-on experience for learning and possible promotional advancements as well. Fellowships and internship programs are also available for recent graduates who are still looking for their dream job within the CDC. To be considered at the CDC for employment, a detailed list of specific steps can be found at the CDC website.
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