How to Earn a Public Health Degree

public healthPublic Health is a vast field that covers a wide variety of disciplines. These professionals handle the health of the environment, understanding how diseases spread, and implementing preventative strategies to improve the health of the impoverished nation. The versatility of a public health degree makes it a safe investment for any student.

The Different Levels of Public Health Degree

There are four different levels of Public Health degree. The level one chooses depends on his or her career aspirations. The best part about Public Health is that it is offered at both traditional and online colleges. The lowest degree level is at the Associates level. This two-year degree gives students a generalized education on the foundations of Public Health.

Although advancement opportunities are limited with just an Associates degree, it can get one an entry level position within Public Health. Some students get a job after completing their Associates and complete their Bachelors as they gain work experience.

The Bachelors of Science in Public Health expands upon the foundational concepts covered at the Associates level. Courses cover topics such as Biostatistics, Environmental Health, Administration, Epidemiology, and Health Behavior. Most universities require an Internship for graduation, which is where students learn to apply classroom theory in real-world situations.

One can get most jobs within Public Health with a Bachelors degree. With that being said, those who earn at the top of the pay scale often have at least a Masters degree. The Association For Prevention Teaching and Research has a Council of Graduate Programs in Public Health, and they are responsible for accrediting a university’s public health graduate programs. It is best to choose an accredited program, as these degrees hold more weight in the eyes of potential employers.

There are two different types of Masters in Public Health. In addition to the Bachelors of Science in Public Health, there is the Masters of Medical Science in Public Health. This is the degree chosen by those who want to obtain a clinical position within the Public Health field. Some programs, such as Harvard’s School of Public Health, only except MDs into their Masters of Medical Science in Public Health program.

The standard Masters of Science in Public Health covers all non-clinical aspects of Public Health. This degree usually takes two years to complete, with most credits coming in the form of field work. At this level, if they haven’t already at the Bachelors level, students choose their specialized area within Public Health.

Those who aspire to work in a clinical field of Public Health go on to get their Doctorate. Most programs offer this degree in seven disciplines. These disciplines are Population, Family, & Reproductive Health, Epidemiology, Social & Behavioral Science, International Health, Mental Health, Health Policy & Management, and Environmental Health. Obtaining a Doctorate takes a long time, but the plus side is it virtually guarantees employment.

Public Health Professional Certification

The National Board of Public Health Examiners offers a certification exam that is available to those who hold at least a Bachelors in Public Health.

Candidates are also required to have at least five years of Public Health work experience. The test covers all the areas covered at the Bachelors level, which includes Biostatistics, Environmental Health Sciences, Epidemiology, Health Policy & Management, Social & Behavioral Sciences, Communication & Informatics, Diversity & Culture, Leadership, Public Health Biology, Programs Planning, Systems Thinking, and Programs Planning.

Career Opportunities and Work Environment

Public Health is a broad field that offers many different career paths. One common job title for those who want to work in Environmental Health is the State or Federal Environmentalist.

These people often spend most of their day in a lab analyzing data in a specific area’s environmental data. They also spend time communicating their findings to people with non-science backgrounds.

Those who want to specialize in Health and Behavior Science often work as a Behavioral Scientist. Most Behavioral Scientists work in an office setting and study the way people within society interact. Their work is usually related to how diseases spread.

There are several jobs available for those who specialize in Public Health Administration. One option is to become a Public Health Legislative Adviser. Daily responsibilities revolve around crafting public health legislation and trying to persuade decision makers to pass said legislation.

Those with a talent for math and analyzing data get employed as a Biostatistician. These people often work for government agencies. Their day consists of pouring over data that is used to make decisions and craft policy.

These are just a few examples of the variety of jobs offered within the Public Health field. This article here lists 50 of the best jobs in Public Health. It includes educational requirements, salary ranges, and daily responsibilities for each job.

Job Outlook and Salary

Since Public Health is a broad field, it is difficult to assess a combined rate of growth. According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, Health Educators, and Community Health Workers are set to see 21% growth through 2020. These workers make an average of $41,830 a year.

Biostatisticians are set to see a 14% growth through 2020 and make between 39,090 and 72,830. The website linked above provides extensive salary information for 50 specific career titles. In general, those who earn at the top of the pay scale have their Masters or Doctorate in Public Health. Those earning at the top of the pay scale with a Bachelors have several years of experience.

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