Public health seems to be top of mind for the whole world these days. The experience of living through a pandemic is not something that the average Joe is fully prepared for! Yet, there are people who train throughout graduate school, exactly for a moment like this. They step up to the plate when times are most harrowing. Amongst today’s healthcare heroes, are public health specialists.
For those who are inspired to help others, analyze and solve community health challenges, and get paid to make a real impact, public health is a great career choice. Gaining the necessary skills through a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) program positions you for advanced positions in public health, and makes the MPH job outlook brighter than ever, as you’ll see with the following career choices.
Job Outlook: 30% growth
Working in biostatistics means you’ll be chest-deep in health data. If you enjoy swimming in numbers and puzzling out solutions, this career is an excellent choice. As a biostatistician, you’ll design studies, decide how to collect the data, put controls in place, use statistical computing software to help with analysis, and adapt when studies don’t work out as expected. Biostatisticians spend more time working in an office environment than other public health workers who work “in the field” (on the front lines and in direct contact with patients). In this career, you will however have to interface with the teams implementing your studies and have strong interpersonal skills, so it’s not all graphs, charts and screens.
The statistician job outlook is strong, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects employment to grow 30% by 2028, or “much faster” than average for all occupations. This translates to an incredible 13,600 new jobs for statisticians by 2028. In terms of pay, statisticians make on average $91,160 (May 2019). Actual pay varies depending on the industry, such as federal government, science research, social assistance, insurance, or educational institutions. With your MPH degree, you may be eligible to work in any of these settings.
Job Outlook: 5% growth
Similar to, but different from a biostatistician (a true statistics professional), an epidemiologist is a researcher of pathogens and epidemics. An epidemiologist will apply statistical methods to data collection, but is more concerned with using these tools to understand and prevent disease. They are often responsible for collecting data through interviews and sampling, and they plan and manage public health programs for adversely affected populations, in an effort to make community health improvements. There are a few specializations that epidemiologists might choose, including but not limited to:
- Infectious diseases
- Chronic diseases
- Maternal and child health
- Mental health
- Substance abuse
- Public health preparedness and emergency response
Your area of interest and expertise with a specific epidemiological issue will influence your work environment. State and local public health workers may do hands-on data collection, while infectious disease and emergency response epidemiologists are most likely to travel. Many epidemiologists work for federal agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). No matter whether you find yourself employed at a hospital, by the government, or at a state college, you’ll spend a good deal of time in an office setting, dealing with data. For $70k annually on average, the epidemiologist job profile offers a competitive salary. You can also expect a growing job outlook, with employment of epidemiologists expected to grow 5% by the year 2028.
Public Health Director or Manager
Job Outlook: 18% expected growth
As a Director for a public health program, you’ll exercise your communication, leadership, and program management skills. Core courses in your MPH program, like Public Health Policy and Social and Behavioral Sciences, will offer a foundation for this career path. Meanwhile, electives like Public Health and an Aging Society and U.S. Healthcare Delivery Systems will strengthen your knowledge of public health systems and how they address broad populations. As a health services manager, the opportunities for leadership are limitless. You might be in charge of an entire department, or an entire facility! You are likely to manage a group of professionals, represent them, develop goals, and stay up to date on laws, regulations, and developing technology.
Employment for public health managers is growing at a faster than average rate, of 18 percent through 2028. (This equates to about 71,600 job openings in the field!) The growth is largely a result of the aging baby-boomer population who will require healthcare services in their later years. The average annual wage for this role, is a not-too-shabby $100k.
Disaster and Emergency Specialist
Job Outlook: 5% expected growth
For the most adventurous public health students out there, becoming a disaster or emergency specialist probably sounds intriguing. The truth of the matter is… it is! As a disaster specialist, you would be contributing your public health skills to a coordinated plan between government and safety officials, non-profits, hospitals, and other emergency aid organizations, to deliver assistance to those affected by serious and immediate problems. Those problems could be natural disasters like wildfires, flooding, and hurricanes, or hazardous chemical leaks and other emergencies. Emergency response directors are reported to make a median salary of $74.5k (May 2019), with a job outlook of 5% between 2018 and 2028 (about 500 incremental jobs). The public health professional’s role in a situation like this includes:
- Preparing safety plans and training responders;
- Reporting on health damages, applying for resources and funding and distributing them, in responding to emergencies, and;
- Assessing public health hazards resulting from disasters, communicating with partners.
Sanitarian or Environmental or Occupational Health Specialist
Job Outlook: 6-8% growth
As a Sanitarian, your MO is to inspect, evaluate, report upon, and educate the public on environmental factors influencing health in their everyday environments. For instance, you might collect water or air pollution samples, and make recommendations to improve the health of an effected community. Or, you might investigate workplaces to ensure that safe standards are being practiced, such as a factory, construction zone, hospital, or food preparation facility. Individuals who enjoy reporting, crunching data, and working in the field, will enjoy public health roles like these. Master’s in public health graduates will find similar financial benefits whether working on the environmental spectrum, and making $71k annually, or in occupational health, making $74k (both May 2019). The job outlook is also bright, between 6% and 8% by 2028, depending on your career path.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the COVID-19 pandemic will abate any time soon, so if you’re not a public health worker yet, it is certainly not too late to send your passion in this direction and make a difference. In fact, there might be no better time to enter the public health profession. The long-term health effects of this pandemic on individuals and communities is yet to be discovered, and people who work in public health indeed act at the intersection of education, policy, research, and action.
As you can see, there are many exciting and thriving career paths for MPH program graduates, and now is a prosperous time for this field. Contribute your skills through the interdisciplinary discipline of public health, and you’ll be sure to find a career that offers a lifetime of engagement and satisfaction.
Contact Goodwin University to learn more about our Master’s in Public Health program, and get started in 2020!
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.