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Public Health Jobs: Where Can I Work with an MPH degree?

September 23, 2021
A masked woman sits on one side of a plexiglass divider reviewing a form with another person.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that healthcare positions will grow by 4.6 million by the year 2029 and that six out of the 10 fastest-growing occupations will be related to healthcare.1 Given recent global health events, it stands to reason that jobs in public health would be growing as well.

But what do public health professionals do? It’s not all virus tracking and promoting vaccination centers. Public health roles are available in both the public and private sector, and there’s a diverse range of job types to be had. Jobs can encompass research, policymaking, and health interventions.

To prepare for these wide-ranging and critical public health jobs, civic-minded people will need to first acquire the necessary expertise in areas like biostatistics and administration. Public health careers also require knowledge of ethical and legal ramifications related to public health leadership, skills which are usually learned in a master of public health program.

Read on to learn more about the different jobs in public health, the skills needed to get those jobs and how an MPH degree can better prepare you for those roles.

Public Health Jobs


The MPH degree prepares students for public health jobs that may require them to conduct research or craft policy, typically in government agencies, universities, medical schools, health insurance or pharmaceutical companies.

So what can you do with a Master in Public Health? Below are some of the specific MPH careers that graduates might pursue and their corresponding salary, typical employers and daily tasks:

Epidemiologist


An epidemiologist studies diseases and investigates how to better prevent and/or treat them. They collect and analyze data, communicate findings, manage public health programs and supervise professional staff.

In May 2020, the median epidemiologist salary was $74,560 per year. Research epidemiologists might work for a university, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the National Institutes of Health.2

Biostatistician


Biostatisticians spend their days analyzing medical research data, design and oversee research studies and collaborate with other scientists. They help determine how to treat and prevent diseases.

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t track biostatisticians specifically, the median salary for statisticians was $92,270 in May 2020.3 Biostatisticians can work for federal agencies, private companies and educational services.

Health Educator


Health education specialists analyze data and create the health programs, campaigns and curricula that help broad populations and communities improve their overall wellness. Rather than working directly with the public, health educators focus on the big picture.

The average annual salary for health education specialists is $62,120. Health educators are typically employed at hospitals, state and local governments, individual and family services and outpatient care centers.4

Healthcare Administrators


A healthcare administrator plans, directs and coordinates business activities for healthcare providers. They might manage an entire facility, practice or specific department by improving efficiencies, ensuring compliance with laws and regulations, managing the finances and even representing the organization at board meetings.

In May 2020, the median pay for a healthcare administration professional (sometimes called health services manager) was $104,280 per year, and the job growth rate is much faster than average. The top industries that employ healthcare administrators are state, local and private hospitals, outpatient care centers, nursing homes and medical practices.5

Environmental Health Scientist


Environmental health scientists and specialists analyze data about the environment to better protect the public’s health. They might research and present findings to the public about potential risks in the environment, like soil and water contamination from a manufacturing plant or refinery.

The median annual salary for an environmental scientist is $73,230 per year with the highest-paid professionals working in the federal government. Skills needed to succeed in this field include computer modeling, data analytics and geographic information systems.6

Why Would I Need a Master of Public Health?


The skills needed for the above jobs, especially for advancement, are taught at the graduate level in a Master of Public Health program. Typical curriculum for an MPH degree usually include biostatistics, public health epidemiology, administration, environmental health concepts and a practicum experience. The practicum in particular helps to connect and utilize all of these skills in an experiential learning situation so graduates can later apply them to real-life scenarios on the job.

Start a Career Improving Public Health


Public health jobs can range widely from epidemiologists and environmental health scientists to healthcare administrators, health educators and biostatisticians. As recent years have certainly demonstrated, each of these roles are crucial for the health and safety of large populations, countries and even large regions of the world.

To step into one of these top public health jobs, you would need to gain skills in research and data analytics, public health policy, law and ethics, planning, implementation and evaluation, among others.

If you’d like to pursue one of these vital roles, consider how an online master of public health program can increase your ability to accomplish these goals. An MPH can better prepare you to lead the complex world of public health with the confidence and professionalism needed to succeed.

Ready to take the next step?

Kent State University offers an online Master of Public Health with specializations leading to careers in research, policymaking and health interventions that can prepare you for public health jobs. The 46-credit degree includes courses such as biostatistics, epidemiology and public health administration plus a final practicum and the opportunity to learn from our faculty’s ongoing research and evidence-based practice. If you’re interested in a career with the potential to take an active role in public health, apply today to Kent State’s online Master of Public Health.

Sources:

1. Retrieved on 27, May, 2021, from, bls.gov/news.release/ecopro.nr0.htm

2. Retrieved on 27, May, 2021, from, bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/epidemiologists.htm

3. Retrieved on 27, May, 2021, from, bls.gov/ooh/math/mathematicians-and-statisticians.htm#tab-5

4. Retrieved on 27, May, 2021, from, bls.gov/oes/current/oes211091.htm

5. Retrieved on 27, May, 2021, from, bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm

6. Retrieved on 27, May, 2021, from, bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/environmental-scientists-and-specialists.htm