Epidemiology is a branch of medical science that deals with the study and prevention of infectious diseases. A virologist is a specialist in the field of epidemiology who researches new diseases that are specifically viral in origin. The primary function of a virologist is to classify and identify the sources of new viruses, develop strategies for containment of the virus and perform investigations into cures or vaccinations. Additionally, virologists continue working with viruses that patients have suffered from for decades, like Hepatitis and AIDS. Like all epidemiologists, virologists frequently handle materials that could make them ill, and their positions require a high-level of education.
According to Payscale.com's reporting for October 2009, the average salary of a virologist and other epidemiologists depends largely upon how much experience he has in the field. With less than 1 year of experience in the field, the average salary for virologists was between £24,397 and £33,603. Those with 1 to 4 years of experience earned an average of £26,781 to £39,570. Virologists who achieved 5 to 9 years of work in the field of epidemiology received an average salary of between £33,444 and £62,830, while those with 10 to 19 years earned between £39,204 and £52,573. After he achieves 20 years of experience or more, a virologist has the potential to earn a maximum average salary of £77,964.
The type of employer that virologists and other epidemiologists worked for also influenced annual salary rates in October 2009. At an average of £79,625, foundations and trusts paid the highest maximum salaries, but at £21,710, such organisations also paid the lowest average starting salaries. Incorporated and publicly traded companies offered the highest average starting salaries at £60,508. The federal government paid virologists maximum salaries that averaged £59,254, while state and local governments paid significantly less at £38,706. Colleges and universities also offered lower maximum average salaries at £45,947.
The geographic area where a virologist worked also influenced his average salary rate in October 2009. The District of Columbia was the highest paying area for virologists and other epidemiologists at an average between £38,017 and £60,877. Georgia is the home to the main offices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and virologists who worked in this state also received high pay rates at an average between £31,169 to £53,340. Other states that featured high pay for virologists included Massachusetts, New York, Maryland and California.
Virologists and epidemiologists come from a variety of educational backgrounds. Those who held licensing as a medical doctor (MD) received the highest average maximum salaries at £76,645 in October 2009. Those who held a PhD in epidemiology averaged a maximum of £54,498, while virologists with PhDs in other fields like biology or chemistry received higher maximums at £69,998. With a master's degree in public health or a master's degree in epidemiology, virologists earned average maximum salaries of approximately £40,950.
In October 2009, many virologists and other epidemiologists received additional benefits that increased their overall compensation packages. Virologists earned an average between 1.9 and 3.6 weeks of paid vacation. Many also received annual bonuses, which averaged between £1,170 and £8,450. Other common benefits for virologists included paid holidays and sick days, 401k retirement plans, life or disability insurance, flexible scheduling and tuition reimbursement for educational courses.