There are numerous benefits to getting a master’s degree in public health. You’ll expand your knowledge in various areas including:
- environmental science
- public policy
This will not only prepare you to take on more challenging jobs or leadership roles but increase your chances of competing for a higher salary. You may be wondering what to do with a masters of public health. Below is an overview of some of the top public health careers for professionals with a master’s in public health.
Earning an MPH will create more job and career opportunities in the field of social work. You can work at hospitals and other health facilities that deal with:
- overall health consciousness
While public health looks at health on a large scale, social work tends to focus on things on an individual level. Public health social workers are multidisciplinary professionals who understand the bridge between individuals and entire communities. They understand complex support systems and can help individuals make connections and access services they may otherwise be unable to access. Since public health social workers have a unique perspective, their opinion is essential to inform and drive public policy-setting.
Some agencies hire social workers who have a public health degree to place in various departments for case management. It is perhaps the most direct way to engage with the public and see their health improve.
The BLS reports that the field of social work is growing at a rate faster than average. With an additional 64,000 job openings expected through 2031 and median pay of over $50,000, social work is a promising career option for public health professionals.
Public Health Education
Another of the top master’s degree in public health jobs involves health education. With problems like obesity and diabetes showing record-high numbers in recent years, the government is encouraging educators to earn a master’s in public health to help administer health education at:
- private organizations
Public health awareness and education is one of the most effective ways to encourage healthier lifestyle choices and stay wary of diseases associated with careless eating and day-to-day management that can lead to problems like:
- weight gain
- sexually transmitted diseases
- heart disease
Educators who teach public health programs have the know-how to communicate most effectively with those who want to learn more about leading a healthier life.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median pay for health education specialists and community health workers is $48,860/year. The job outlook is favorable, and 12% job growth is expected through 2031. This rate is much faster than average across all occupations. While the BLS reports the entry level education requirement is a bachelor’s degree, having a master’s in public health could help you get a higher salary or better position within the field.
Similar to social work and healthcare education or management, nutritionists, and dietitians who have a MPH will be able to engage with a larger variety of groups and public members on the importance of healthcare. Nutritionists who have a public health degree can be hired as supervisors to oversee education agendas, campaigns, or departments that bring about greater awareness and change.
Some nutritionists specialize in public health nutrition. Unlike a typical nutritionist, public health nutritionists work with groups of people. They may:
- assess health needs
- educate the group to promote health
- design programs
- coordinate health services
- promote public health campaigns related to diet and nutrition
While a public health nutritionist may have a degree in public health, they also need a degree in nutrition and dietetics. Nutrition degrees include both classroom content and experiential learning. A dietetic internship may be required. Students work with a supervisor during their internship, learning how to work with patients.
The BLS reports that jobs for dieticians and nutritionists are expected to grow at an average rate. The median pay is $61,650/year and the entry level education is a bachelor’s degree. While an MPH alone won’t land you a job as a nutritionist, those interested in a career in nutrition will find that it pairs well with an undergraduate degree in dietetics.
Doctors and Nurses
Those who work in the medical field are likely to benefit by earning a master’s in public health. They can expand their network and career options beyond just medicine. Doctors and nurses with a public health degree can and work in:
- healthcare organizations
They can also work for other institutions that seek public health insight from a medical professional’s perspective. Doctors like physicians can conduct their jobs with an added layer of perspectives and social issues through a master’s degree in public health. When making diagnoses or offering advice on how to improve a patient’s health, doctors can help them with tips on lifestyle choices and eating habits through their public health education. Of course, the medical profession also prepares doctors and nurses for these matters as well, but what makes a master’s degree in public health important is keeping folks up to date on relevant topics and issues at hand.
The American Public Health Association describes public health nursing as, ” the practice of promoting and protecting the health of populations using knowledge from nursing, social, and public health sciences.” Public health nurses work to reduce health risks within the community. They may also provide direct health care services to certain at-risk populations within their local area. They understand the health risk factors specific to their area and may conduct interventions or participate in planning efforts to reduce those risks. Nurses and doctors in public health address threats to human health including diseases and environmental concerns.
While the BLS doesn’t provide specific information on a public health nurse, they do report that the nursing field in general has a favorable job outlook. With six percent growth expected through 2013 (an increase in 195,400 jobs) and a median pay of $77,600, public health nursing is a promising field to explore. The job outlook for physicians and surgeons is not as favorable, although adding a public health specialization could open the door for additional employment opportunities.
Water Quality Manager or Planner
Government professionals who deal with society’s most important resource–water–are required to have extensive knowledge of public health and policy. A master’s in public health equips them with the knowledge of what quality of water is safe for consumption by the public and for the environment. The water quality planner or manager works closely with the government to resolve any water pollution problems or droughts.
The BLS reports salary information for environmental science and protection technicians which would be the entry level role for this area of public health. While an associate’s degree is the entry level education for this field, a public health degree would provide the additional knowledge and training to take on an advisory or leadership role in this area.
Environmental and Occupational Health
Public health professionals in environmental and occupational health help maintain the health and safety of communities and workplaces. They help control and prevent expose to hazard in the environment. Much like the water quality manager or planner, an environmental scientist is responsible for the overall health of the environment. Environmental health officer seeks out problems in the environment related to:
They use the insight they’ve gained during their master’s degree education in public health to identify and assess threats to the environment. They help resolve issues directly linked between the environment and the health of the general population.
An occupational health professional works to maintain the well-being of workers across all occupations. This important area of public health strives to improve working conditions so the environment meets established health and safety standards. These health and safety specialists also work to promote a culture that reflects a value system that includes:
- effective management systems
- personnel policies
- health and safety procedures
The BLS reports that jobs for environmental scientists and specialists are expected to grow by 5% through 2031. The average median pay is $76,530/year. The entry level education required for these roles is typically a bachelor’s degree, but earning an MPH degree would be beneficial in terms of increase employment opportunities and salary.
If you interest lies in public policy, you may wonder about the careers with a masters in public health in this area. Public health policy refers to the laws and regulations within a society that promote health and wellness. It also relates to the efforts in place to make sure the actions and decisions related to these laws are followed. Public health professionals working in the area of public policy are part of a network. Their job titles are varied by may include:
- Public Health Practitioner
- Public Health Educator
- Health Policy Associate
- Health Services Administrator
- Public Health Project Manager
These members help provide effective and direct solutions to public health issues. To earn these titles, a master’s degree in public health is necessary. These careers combine various fields including:
- government policy/law
All of these topics are dedicated to improving the health of the public. It takes more than one field’s effort to improve public health and safety.
The BLS doesn’t specifically call out public policy jobs in relation to public health in their Occupational Handbook, but they do provide information for political scientists. Jobs for this field are expected to increase by 6% through 2031 and have a median pay of $122,510/year.
Scholar or Researcher
A master’s degree also allows you to pursue a career in academia. Research scholars who write papers and articles are dedicated contributors to the discourse of public health and policy. Without research, the profession would not expand. Academics provide data and information related to:
- public health labs
- environmental issues
- social issues
- issues around medicine and disease
The studies and analyses that researchers provide are invaluable to the public health community. They make sure that studies remain relevant and up to date which further informs everyone working in public health.
Some public policy research professionals also help monitor and administer clinical trials. They might prepare documents, attend meetings, and help coordinate research efforts.
The BLS reports that the demand for qualified postsecondary teachers is significant. Job growth is expected to occur much faster than average through 2031. The median pay is $79,640/year.
Career Opportunities in All Sectors
With a master’s degree in public health, you’ll be able to competently compete in a much more competitive job market linked to the government or private organizations. Government jobs or nonprofit careers have their place in the public health community, benefiting the public with education and awareness on:
- diet and exercise
- environmental issues
You may be asking, “What can I do with a masters in public health in the private sector?” The private sector is just as important. The private sector works closely with governments and public authorities to address public health issues. They typically raise a lot of funds to offer resources to other organizations that are in need. These types of organizations are key players in the world of public health. Private-public partnerships are mutually beneficial. Earning a master’s in public health will boost your chances of finding a career path in whichever sector you choose to pursue.