The need for contact tracers increases when infectious diseases are actively spreading. For example, in April, 2020, a survey a of U.S. states and territories revealed that 36,000 contact tracers would be needed to help address the coronavirus pandemic. Just 10 days later, that number almost doubled, with agencies suggesting that 66,197 contact tracers would now be required to reduce the spread of COVID-19. If you are interested in this type of job role, here is how to become a contact tracer.
Educational Requirements to Work as a Contact Tracer
Each hiring agency sets its own educational requirements when hiring contact tracers. However, contact tracing jobs are generally considered entry-level positions. As such, many only require that applicants have a high school diploma or GED to apply.
If you want to work in a higher position and be more involved in the disease investigation process, more education is likely required. For example, epidemiologists—public health professionals who work both in the field and in laboratories to learn more about disease and injury—often need a master’s degree to work in this position.
Contact Tracing Training
Working as a contact tracer does require some level of training. This training usually consists of learning more about infectious diseases and how they spread, which is referred to as epidemiology. It also includes training in how to do the day-to-day tasks typically assigned to a contact tracer role. Notifying those who have potentially been infected, providing information about the infectious disease, and offering recommendations to reduce transmission are all responsibilities of a contact tracer.
Some agencies offer contact tracing training in-house. This means that, if you are hired, they will provide the education necessary to work as a contact tracer. Others rely on external options like Ultimate Medical Academy (UMA) to provide this type of educational contact tracing training program.
UMA has created a no cost non-credit online Contact Tracing course for individuals interested in working as a contact tracer. In this course, you learn what contact tracing is and why it is important to the public health system. We also provide basic, foundational knowledge in epidemiology so you gain a better understanding of infectious disease and how it spreads. Next, we go into what a contact tracer does.
Agency-Specific Contact Tracing Requirements
Each hiring agency dictates the qualifications they require from their contact tracing applicants. To get an idea of what these qualifications could potentially be, let’s look at two job posts for agencies hiring contact tracers during COVID-19.
The first is the New York State Department of Health and all local health departments within that state. To apply as a contact tracer for these agencies, the minimum qualifications include:
- 18 years of age or older
- High school diploma or equivalent (though some college-level training is preferred)
- A resident of New York State
- Able to speak, read and write English (fluency in additional languages is preferred)
- Must pass a background check
- Must possess a telephone, computer, and wireless internet
This agency also provides specific requirements for which courses and software are required before you can work for them in a contact tracer role. Windows 10 or a Mac with Apple OS x 10.13 and antivirus protection are a few of these requirements.
If you want to work as a contact tracer for The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, the requirements are a bit different. They include:
- Able to fluently speak, read, and write English
- Able to work remote
- Proficient with computers and data entry
- Must possess or be able to acquire a computer, with a specific set of hardware and software requirements
- Must have access to the internet with a minimum download speed of 5MB and minimum upload speed of 1 MB
“Soft Skills” Training Requirements
Unlike the New York State contact tracing job requirements, The University of Texas job post also sets qualification standards for interpersonal skills or qualities they require that their applicants possess. These are called “soft skills” and include:
- Positive attitude
- Interact professionally with diverse cultures
- Organizational skills
- Communication skills
- Critical thinking and sound judgment
- Ability to act with discretion and confidentiality
One thing that sets UMA’s Contact Tracing course apart from some of the other online contact tracing training courses available is that we place considerable focus on these soft skills. In our course, we discuss the non-educational skills that can help you be more successful in a contact tracing role.
For example, research provides basic foundational knowledge for this particular role. This includes education about what contact tracing is, an overview of the public health system, epidemiology in general, and COVID-19 specifically.
This training course consists of 6 different interactive modules, providing you maximum engagement with the information provided. We also include media-rich lessons such as patient testimonials and day-to-day scenarios to give you a more real-world view of what it is like to work in a contact tracer role.
Enroll today, or if you have additional questions about contact tracing training or any other healthcare training program we offer, contact us to learn more! At UMA, we provide students more than just training. We provide comprehensive healthcare programs designed to also help you get the job you desire!
The Contract Tracing module is not included within Ultimate Medical Academy’s grant of accreditation from the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).