public health vs health administration

Public Health vs. Public Administration: What’s the Difference Between These Career Paths?

If you’re considering building a career that gives back to your community, you’ll most certainly come across the word “public” throughout your education and job search journey. Public service is an excellent choice! In fact, in 2020, a little over 15% of working Americans (24 million!) held jobs in the public sector. These individuals hold jobs in government, infrastructure, justice, social welfare, education, military, and health. They are federal and state employees, postal workers, military personnel, researchers, educators, weather forecasters, and state and national park staff. Together, they dedicate their careers to keeping Americans safe—through national security, managing resources like food, growth and distribution and housing, transportation, healthcare, and disaster management.

If public health vs. public administration is on your mind, rest assured that both career paths will get you a stake in supporting, governing, and protecting humans in society. They will also offer personal fulfillment, not to mention job security.

The major difference between working as a public health professional, or a public administrator, is their scope of work. Public health jobs are typically more hands-on, working within communities, while administrative work errs towards the business side of policies and governance. So, would you rather work behind the scenes, or directly in the field? What does each option entail? Read on to learn more!

What Can I Do in a Public Health Career?

In a public health career, you’ll tackle health-related issues in populations at the local, national, or global level. Your job could be disease prevention, health education in communities, surveying specific populations, gaining hands-on research, petitioning for project funding, and managing the operations of related initiatives. Public health professionals study epidemics and pandemics, chronic and acute illness, and healthcare equity and access. The most popular public health careers include:

  • Biostatistician
  • Epidemiologist
  • Researcher
  • Non-profit executive director
  • Community health nurse
  • Environmental health officer
  • Health promotion specialist
  • Public health traveling nurse
  • Public health officer
  • Congressional staffer

As you can see, public health permeates through many sectors, including federal and local government, hospitals and clinics, non-profit, education, and global agencies. Besides working in acute situations such as on the front lines during public health crises, like throughout the COVID-10 pandemic, public health professionals also make an invaluable impact on populations in a more long-term way. For example, chronic health diseases are a major problem in American society, and public health workers invest in addressing environmental and lifestyle health risks. Working in public health offers fascinating opportunities for intersectional study and action, which points to the future of more complex and dynamic research work within communities.

What Can I Do in a Public Administration Career?

Public health administrators work with health-adjacent policy and access issues, as well as on health service fulfillment chains and delivery methods. For example, a public health administrator might focus on obtaining government health insurance or public health center access for clients or may handle food and health security. Health administration is a wonderful selection for those interested in policy and community action. A career in public health administration could lead to a job in:

  • Clinics
  • Government agencies
  • Hospitals
  • Mental health facilities
  • Nursing homes
  • State and local health departments

Work in public administration broadly means that you’ll bring leadership-level skills to delivering services and creating positive change. Education in finance, organizational governance, criminal justice, human resources, policy analysis, economics, information resource management, and government, are all useful to the public administration professional.

How Do I Pursue a Career in Public Health or Administration?

A master’s degree in Public Health (MPH) is your ticket to working as a professional in either field. This degree not only arms you with the historical and scientific frameworks upon which public health operations are built, but will also inspire you with knowledge and practice lessons to become a passionate policy writer, researcher, and skilled leader.

Public health work is often about finding a problem and strategizing how to change it for the betterment of human populations. Earning an MPH provides a perfect background for a career in public health or public administration!

Being considered for an MPH program such as Goodwin University’s 42-credit, flexible, full- or part-time program is easy. To get your degree in as few as 12-15 months by studying completely online, you’ll need to meet these admission requirements:

  • Have accomplished a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution.
  • Provide a transcript.
  • Write a statement of goals.
  • Supply a resume and graduate application, as well as proof of immunizations.

There is no GRE or GMAT requirement! Class terms are offered in 7-week formats, and there are 6 program start dates annually. No matter what time of the year you’re thinking about starting your public health education journey, jumping in will be no more than two months away.

Can you see yourself in one of these community-facing, global change-making careers? This field continues to expand into new disciplines, meaning there is sure to be the perfect fit for your unique interests and skills in public service.

To learn more about how Goodwin University can help you reach your professional goals, reach out and call 800-889-3282 or request more information here.