What Can You Do with a Public Health Degree?


What can you do with a public health degree? It opens the door to careers in research, medicine, teaching, policy-making and more.

Working in public health means you could be researching the spread of disease, analyzing data about the effectiveness of vaccines and medications, teaching at a university, advocating for changes to health care or nutrition programs, writing policies or implementing community initiatives.

It means you’ll spend your time and energy addressing the health needs of those around you—and that can be done in many different settings and with a variety of skill sets and daily duties.

Because the health care sector is experiencing rapid growth, it has a lower unemployment rate than the economy as a whole. And salaries—which vary widely depending on specialty—are typically competitive.

Pay for managers in the health care industry starts around $80,000 a year and can rise well into the six figures. An entry-level public health analyst earns $50,000 a year on average. Nutritionists who disseminate information about healthful eating and living bring in $61,000 annually. Epidemiologists make about $75,000 for studying patterns of disease and prevention of injuries.

Many people with degrees in public health eventually work their way into leadership positions where they take on the complex problems that bedevil the health care industry. Others enter careers with an even broader, international focus, identifying sustainable methods that protect natural resources and improve the standard of living in developing countries.

Regardless of your job title, you will be promoting healthy behaviors—whether in nutrition, hygiene, disease prevention or environmental safety—for individuals, families and the community at large. This includes not only your local community but, on a larger scale, the global community.

There’s a good chance you will also be faced with challenges such as how to counteract entrenched or emergent problems such as substance abuse, epidemics, natural disasters and the effects of poverty.

Careers in Public Health

The job options for those with a degree in public health are numerous and wide-ranging. A number of occupations fall under the umbrella of public health. These include biostatisticians, occupational safety specialists, social and behavioral scientists, public health educators and health services administrators.

Here is a closer look at some of the more common jobs in public health:

  • Community health specialists. These professionals often work with disease specialists to improve a neighborhood’s, city’s or region’s well-being. They help manage illnesses and minimize exposure to disease, and they identify solutions to health challenges facing specific populations.
  • Sustainability experts. There are environmentally focused public health careers in governments, nonprofits, global businesses and overseas organizations. The aim is to develop and promote sustainable growth, implement green standards (especially in developing regions) and safeguard natural resources.
  • Quality improvement coordinators. The focus of this job is improving the effectiveness of public health education programs by conducting site reviews, managing data and tracking inputs. These professionals might also play a role in finances and policy development.
  • Public health administrators and health promotion specialists. These are the planners, whether they work in public offices or the private sector. They examine the impact of public health programs to identify what needs to be modified and how best to spread their message.
  • Public health advocates. Taking on an activist role is second nature for public health advocates. They might spend time on legislative committees or serve as lobbyists. They also might work in hospitals or nonprofits to speak on behalf of underserved populations, or become consumer advocates.

Learn How to Earn a Degree in Public Health

Are you interested in the field and job opportunities mentioned above? If so, Elmhurst University can help meet your educational needs with its Master of Public Health program. Request more information by completing the form below today!

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