Job Outlook and Salary Statistics
There is little doubt that a Master of Public Health opens up a world career opportunities. The various careers in the field of public health have wildly different salaries, so this article will explore a few possible career avenues and the relevant compensation for them. As a public health professional you can find employment with local, state, and federal government; consultancies; hospitals; universities; and even law firms, and each of these settings will likely offer different wages, depending on the service you provide, your level of experience, and the amount of work you do.
Public Health Career Paths and Wages
Doctors, nurses, statisticians, and educators can all work in the realm of public health. Below are the job outlook and wage data from The Bureau of Labor Statistics for several careers in the field.
Epidemiology is the study of how disease occurs and propagates through a population. This information can be used by biologists and chemists to better understand the nature of a disease and its vectors, which is useful for trying to curb disease and disrupt viral outbreaks. Epidemiologists often work for the government, and their median annual income was $61,630 in May, 2008. Jobs in this field are expected to grow by 15% from 2008 to 2018.
Health Care Provider
Nurses, doctors, and other treatment providers are also part of the public health sphere. Preventing and treating disease and providing education about healthy habits all contribute to the overall health of communities, which is the all-encompassing purpose of any public health job. Registered nurses are the front lines of the battle to keep the human population healthy, and their numbers are growing. RNs earned a median salary of $67,720 as of May, 2008. Health care practitioners as a whole, which is a broad category including dentists, clinicians, doctors, and all manner of care providers, earned a median salary of $71,280.
Public Health Educator
Education is as big a component of public health promotion as actual treatment. By helping people develop better health practices and spreading knowledge about how common diseases work and how they can be combated, public health educators help not just individuals or families, but whole communities. The BLS reports that health educators earned a mean annual wage of $56,390 as of May, 2008, and the biggest employers of them were general medical and surgical hospitals.
Public Health Statistician
Research plays a huge role in understanding public health problems and designing programs to address them. Statisticians are needed to gather and crunch data to help us understand epidemics, and learn how to effectively and affordably confront them. From the design of good research to the extrapolation of facts from data, statistics is completely ingrained in the way we manage public health today, and anyone with a mind for stats can put it to good use in the public health sector.
International Health Worker
Some parts of the world still suffer from public health issues that have long been accounted for in the U.S. Clean water, food, and sewage treatment, which we take for granted, are unavailable in some countries, and there are many organizations working to improve the standards of living and health practices of the populations in those areas. Both volunteer and paid positions at public health organizations are available abroad for those who are passionate about making change in the developing world. Someone with a Master of Public Health degree will have an easier time getting an administrative or leadership position in an international public health agency with a decent paycheck.
As with all jobs, so too with public health professionals, experience is an important factor. There is a marked increase in the average salary with experience. The type and size of employer matter too. Non-profits, colleges, and local government employers are at the lower end of the salary spectrum for those with a Master of Public Health. The federal government, consultant firms, and self-employment are good sources of higher income.
With most jobs in the field of public health, a master’s degree is a minimum requirement so you have to be ready to accept beginner-level pay packages if you are fresh out of undergraduate study.
The bottom line is that the job and salary prospects with a master’s degree in public health are bright and demand for health care professionals will continue to grow.
The chart below shows the steps for planning and executing a major public health campaign with treatment and education aspects.
Other Perks of a Public Health Career
While there are positions in the public health field with above average paychecks, most people who get into this field aren’t doing it just for the money. The feeling of helping people and impacting large groups, even whole populations, is a powerful reward in its own right.
The benefits of working in public health don’t all come from an inflated sense of duty or morality though. There are many positions in the field that will let you travel around the country, or even the world, and put you into contact with an array of interesting people. Public health incorporates disparate bodies of knowledge, so someone with broad interests could easily use scientific knowledge, communication skills, and cultural knowledge to get ahead in the field. The industry is well suited to accommodating smart people with a range of proclivities.
Resources for Aspiring Public Health Workers
The field of public health depends on its workers and constituents to constantly be learning and analyzing information in order for the discipline to grow and advance. The U.S. government releases mountains of public health data and compiled resources for public health workers to use in their crusade to better health for the nation. The following is a list of a few resources that any public health worker should know about and check regularly.
- Health.gov: This is a government website with hundreds of articles on how to improve any aspect of your health. The articles are not presented as data or scientific research, but in easily digestible form so that regular people can visit the site for tips on how to improve their own health and habits. Public health educators should refer their students to this site, and should follow the principles presented therein themselves.
- United States Department of Health and Human Services: Information about the government’s efforts to positively impact public health can be found here. The site features career advice for health related positions, including job listings, and info on how to apply for grants toward research and education in the health field.
- Flu.gov: Influenza, or the flu, is a major public health concern, and there are annual campaigns and new vaccines constantly in development to protect people from new and virulent strains of it. This is a great resource to present to patients, students, and anyone who is interested, and it is a classic example of an educational campaign to improve public health.
- Health Information Portability and Accountability Act: This is one of the most important pieces of legislation in the health landscape today. It ensures that medical information stays private, while allowing doctors and others who need it to access it for diagnostic and treatment purposes.
Any master’s degree is costly, and the Master of Public Health is no exception. So is it worth it to earn a Master of Public Health? You’ll have to determine the value of intangible benefits like “feeling good about yourself for helping people out,” but there are a few hard numbers we can look at to bring this decision down to Earth:
- A two year master’s degree can cost anywhere from $15,000-$45,000, depending on your financial aid, the school you go to, and other factors. That sounds like a lot, and it is, but if you’re serious about getting a career in public health, you will be able to pay for it!
- People with master’s degrees earn an average weekly income of $1,272 per week, which is $234 more (per week!) than people with bachelor’s degrees, and almost twice as much as someone with only an associate’s degree. A master’s degree is a credential you can take to the bank.
- Nurses, public health social workers, statisticians, and epidemiologists, just a few of the types of workers that can apply their skills in the public health sphere, all earn more than the national median annual salary, according to The BLS. No matter what job you get in the public health field, you’re likely to be earning more than about 50% of the U.S. working population.
Get in Touch With Schools You’re Interested In
If you want to get started right away on finding a Master of Public Health degree program that fits your schedule and budget’s needs, there’s no better way than getting in touch with a few accredited online schools and getting the details of their programs. The links below will help you contact schools that many students are interested in that offer top accredited online public health programs. Opening the channels of communication with these schools can be your first step toward a new degree and a career in public health.
Online Degrees in Public Health
Public health is the science of preventing disease and promoting health at the population level. Programs prepare students to become leading public health professionals capable of addressing current global public health problems. By clicking on the logos below, you can receive more information regarding your degree and school of choice.
Master of Public Health
||Purdue University – Purdue University offers a Master of Public Health degree which provides a foundation in the science of promoting health and preventing disease. Areas of emphasis within the MPH program include epidemiology, healthcare management, and international public health.|
Master of Public Health
MPH: Health Education & Promotion
MPH: Health Management & Policy
|Benedictine University – With the Master of Public Health from Benedictine University, students develop an advanced knowledge of the educational and leadership development of public health. The degree program is designed for individuals interested in public health policy in America and abroad. Courses include public health law, policy, and administration.|
Master of Public Health
||Indiana Wesleyan University – Indiana Wesleyan University offers an innovative and effective accredited online program. The Master of Public Health prepares students for high-level careers as healthcare managers, managed healthcare plan coordinators, hospital administrators, and much more. Courses cover a variety of subjects including Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Environmental Health, Health Services Administration, and Social and Behavioral Studies. IWU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.|
MSN: Public Health
MPA: Healthcare Management
|Grand Canyon University – MSN in Public Health from Grand Canyon University program is recognized as a leader in training the next generation of public health advocates. Featuring a curriculum that is developed around a multidisciplinary methodology, courses include Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Environmental Health, and Social, Behavioral, and Cultural Factors in Public Health.|
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