Top sectors you can work in with an MPH
Students who graduate with an MPH have the opportunity to work for various employers in the public, non-profit, education, and private sectors.
- Public: Graduates who seek employment within the public health sector work for local, state, national, or international governments. Those who work in public sector roles in public health have the opportunity to be part of making an impact on the overall health of individuals, communities, populations, or perhaps even nationwide. Positions include public health nurse, health administrator, and prevention services nurse.
- Non-profit: This sector typically involves organizations that target a certain population or one particular health disparity, such as diabetes or childhood obesity. One example of a public health job in the nonprofit sector for graduates with an MPH are individuals who provide disaster relief prevention for organizations such as The American Red Cross. These individuals will oftentimes travel to other countries and experience different cultures.
- Education: MPH program graduates seeking employment in the education sector may find opportunities in research and data analysis, as well as serve as educators, teaching others on public health issues. These job titles include public health educator and director of student health services.
- Private: Private sector employment opportunities are popular among those who want to work on a contract or consulting basis, or for private organizations. These fields include occupational health, insurance, and pharmaceutical manufacturing.
While some positions in these sectors may only require a bachelor’s degree, most employers prefer an MPH degree from a CEPH accredited program. In order to advance in your career, an MPH is almost always preferred. Most MPH programs take two years to complete and are offered both on-campus and online. Today, more and more students are turning to online programs due to flexibility, advanced technology, and quality of coursework.
What Defines a CEPH Accredited Program?
The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) is an independent agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit schools of public health and public health programs.
CEPH accreditation focuses on the quality of an institution and their programs. Each review takes several months to complete, and ensures that the institution is meeting the proper standards and quality of education. A CEPH is one of the most sought after accreditations, therefore graduates who hold degrees from a CEPH accredited program are highly regarded to employers. Visit CEPH.org for more information.
Career Areas Under Public Health
There are various career areas that fall under the umbrella of public health.
While the term “population health” has evolved in recent years, it is traditionally defined as “…the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group” (Kindig, & Stoddart, 2003). Simply put, population health is the study of why certain populations are healthy, while others are more susceptible to diseases based on things such as socioeconomic status, race, gender, and geography.
In recent years, population health has developed into a subset of public health, as it has a slightly different focus. While public health focuses on disease prevention, population health is based on health disparities and improving quality of care. For example, a recent initiative in improving population health was President Obama’s Affordable Care Act in 2010, which had the goal of increasing the number of people covered by health insurance in order to lower the cost of healthcare.
Top careers in population health include Health Information Technicians and Population Health Managers.
Health Information Technicians & Laboratory Science
According to the The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the role of a Health Information Technician is to organize and manage health information data of a population. They use classified systems to keep patient records and treatment histories, as well as code and categorize patient information for insurance reimbursement. Health Information Technicians are pertinent to population health research because they help identify trends in health disparities.
- Population Health Managers – In this role, Population Health Managers monitor patients, communities, and populations to identify trends and gather data and analytics. With this information in hand, they seek ways to improve population health management programs, lower costs, and improve clinical outcomes. Their work is passed on to clinicians and administrators who then work to identify gaps in current initiatives.
- Health administration – While some graduates with MPH degrees go into the fields of research and field work, these careers would simply not be possible without the leadership of healthcare executives. Health administrators are business savvy professionals who keep healthcare facilities running, ensure profitability, and implement strategies to improve patient outcomes.
- Laboratory Science – Some MPH programs combine public health investigation, infectious disease, environmental assessment and genetic testing within a laboratory setting. For example, The Wadsworth Center Master of Science in Laboratory Sciences Program (View the Wadsworth Center Website).
Additional duties of the health administrator include managing staff; keeping up with laws and regulations; setting the budget and understanding of finance; adoption of new medical technology; research initiatives; and marketing. Most health administrators work in hospitals, however some may work in nursing homes or family practices.
The practice of biostatistics involves mathematical and statistical formulas, as well as data analysis to identify health trends and factors that cause diseases within a community. This area of public health is meant for those who enjoy numbers and mathematics.This role is critical to public health because without biostaticians, public health professionals would lack quality research to determine which diseases affect certain populations. Without data and research from biostaticians, they would be unable to make decisions on how to treat and prevent public health issues.
Qualified biostatisticians are in high demand, so job opportunities in this field are of plenty. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the general employment of statisticians is projected to grow an impressive 34 percent from 2014 to 2024.
Environmental health professionals study how environmental risk factors can cause diseases, like asthma, cancer, and lead poisoning. Students who graduate with an MPH, and are specialized in Environmental Health have skills in data analysis, epidemiology, risk assessment, occupational hazards, and policy analysis.
Career opportunities in Environmental Health include Environmental Health Professionals and Wastewater Treatment Operators.
- Environmental Health Professional – Those who work as Environmental Health Professionals coordinate inspection programs for facilities for safety, health, and environmental regulations. They may work in the public or private sector.
- Wastewater Treatment Operator – Wastewater facilities collect water that may contain food, sewage, chemicals, or oil. These treatment centers prevent pollution in lakes, rivers, and the rest of the environment. The job of a Wastewater Treatment Operator is to make sure contamination in the wastewater is broken down effectively.
Whereas other areas of public health focus heavily on analyzing and gathering data, the Community Health field hones in on a more social and cultural approach. Community Health is the practice of improving the health of individuals, families, communities, and populations, and it requires understanding the cultural and behavioral factors that influence health. Careers and opportunities within the Community Health realm often involve teaching and/or promoting behaviors to improve health and wellness. Often times this includes developing innovative, educational programs for communities surrounding the prevention and treatment of disease.
The most common career opportunity in Community Health is a Health Educator.
Health Educators teach people behaviors that promote health and wellness. They may work in healthcare facilities, colleges, non-profits, public health departments, or private businesses. Their role includes designing and implementing programs that improve health outcomes of individuals and communities. They also may work one-on-one with members of the community to discuss their personal health and wellness goals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of health educators is expected to grow 13 percent from 2014 to 2024. This growth can be attributed to the efforts of health educators to improve health outcomes of communities in order to reduce healthcare costs.
Top Public Health Careers
As a professional in this field, you may be required to take part in experiments that deal directly with agriculture or pharmaceuticals. Using math and statistics, you can analyze data and present results to public health organizations in an effort to improve overall public health.
Working as an epidemiologist can give you the opportunity to study various diseases within a particular population. You might be responsible for analyzing the possible causes for diseases, the reason for a rapid spread of disease, or an overall effectiveness of certain treatments. This field is extremely important to public health do its contributions to medical science.
Public Health Officer
Public health officers use their skills and knowledge of disease and policy to help guide organizations and individuals to better health practices. Officers can be found in management positions or in teams working for public health organizations. If you choose this career, you could aid in the prevention of certain diseases within a community or provide support to agencies that provide preventative care to the individuals in which you serve.
Managers and supervisors in healthcare settings sometimes hold MPH degrees. If you have experience working in the healthcare field and are seeking management positions, obtaining a higher degree in public health can assist you in obtaining this position. The standard responsibilities of this path can vary, but a majority of professionals in this career path oversee healthcare center operations, manage staff, and have financial management responsibilities as well.
The environment is a huge part of what keeps everyone healthy. How it influences public health is a question that you are likely to investigate if you work in the field of environmental science. If you are interested in being a part of environmental science, you could find yourself working each day in an effort to reduce pollution, encourage recycling efforts, and oversee proper waste disposal. The responsibilities of this field play a large role in how the environment interacts with and influences public health as a whole.
Public Health Educator
Public health educators are found in colleges and universities, providing knowledge and skills to upcoming professionals in the field. When you have a knack for teaching but also have a strong attraction to public health, this is a career field to consider. Educators may also be found in businesses providing training to other public health specialists.
Infectious Disease Consultant
ID consultants may provide a wide range of services to their clients, using their in depth knowledge of bacterial and viral diseases that can sometimes be misdiagnosed or improperly treated. In the event that there is a large outbreak of illness or disease, ID consultants can step in to educate the community on how to avoid contact, or provide expertise to healthcare centers on how to properly contain the outbreak.
Family Nutrition Consultant
In the wake of the digital age, more people are becoming concerned with the do’s and don’ts of nutrition. Working in this field can give you the opportunity to provide educated support to families that wish to improve their eating habits for better health. You could also work for community healthcare centers, health departments, or non-profit organizations.
Occupational Health Specialist
Businesses and corporate organizations seek out qualified occupational health specialists to assist them with identifying potentially risky areas and activities within their buildings. You can work with companies to develop more secure working areas, employee support programs, and proper evacuation plans in the event of an unexpected occurrence. If you choose to work in this field you may find that the job opportunities are just as diverse as the job responsibilities.
Community Health Worker
As a community health worker, you can work for organizations that provide health-related services to the population. Centers that provide immunizations or nutritional care employ community health workers to assist with the in-flow of clients. You could also work for health departments or non-profit organizations that promote better health and better care of the community.
Food and Water Quality Assurance
One of the most important aspects of human health is the food and water that is consumed. Working in this field can allow you to play a large role in the investigation of food or water quality issues, provide oversight of food and water packaging facilities, and provide good quality products to the community in which you serve.
Family and Youth Health Specialist
The country has a strong dedication to the good health of children and families. Family and youth health specialists are important to communities, since they provides programs and services that teach better health practices to families with young children. For instance, you may design a presentation for first graders on how to properly brush their teeth, or perhaps cover their mouth when coughing. This is a very influential career path since you are working with young children to make a difference in their quality of life.
Hazardous Waste Specialist
Hazardous waste specialists are a very important part of the environmental aspect of public health. This group of professionals ensures that hazardous materials that are used in manufacturing or are a byproduct of manufacturing are disposed of in a way that does not negatively affect individuals or the environment. Companies rely on specialists in this field to ensure that all regulations for the disposal of hazardous wastes are followed to prevent potential fines on their organizations or even potential shut-downs. Specialists also work with waste collection companies to help with proper disposal of these materials.
All of the new and innovative medical technologies and medicines require a lot of testing before being released for use on the market. If you want to be a part of this fascinating and advanced field, than pursuing a career as a health scientist may be the right choice. Health scientists usually work in teams, and decipher how certain healthcare related products can be effective on the mass market. When in this field, you may also be required to test and examine certain medications, to ensure that they are safe for use by the general public.
Public Health Informatics Specialist
All of the information from various public health agencies must be stored and communicated through the use of technology. As a public health informatics specialist, you can work for companies that provide public health services to help gather, retrieve, and store information pertaining to public health. Since communication is so important in the public health sector, you may be an integral part of an effective team that is concerned with preserving the health of the nation. On a normal day, you may find yourself entering data onto complex computer systems and relaying that data through different means to other companies within your company’s network.
Specialty Areas of Public Health
Public health can seem quite broad at first glance. It can be applied to everyone as a whole, or broken down into subsections that apply to different groups, regions, or sectors. Each subfield of public health has a specific purpose, which is to contribute to better public health by improving the health and safety of the group in which it specializes. Public health is a growing concern that is likely to continue spreading in popularity in the future. Our experts have listed some of the more focused specialty areas of public health below for you to browse.
Health Policy and Law
Just like any other field that deals with the public, public health is under various restrictions and laws that must be abided by in order to continue operations. If you choose to specialize in this field, you can be a part of the ever-changing policy and law development commission that works hard to ensure that the rights and liberties of the public are protected from harm.
This specialty area is increasingly important for both people and the world alike. It is important the people find a happy medium between public health and the conservation of the environment. In some cases, what hurts people can also hurt the environment. Sometimes the environment can harm people and likewise people can hurt the environment. If you choose a field like this one, you can be a part of making this balance work for the better of society.
The data that is gathered during public health is a huge factor in determining proper treatment methods, social programs, and public awareness. In this specialty field, you could be a major player in determining the statistics that are associated with different age groups, cultures, or geographical areas of the country. Mathematics prospects are a great fit in this department.
If you are the type of person that likes to understand the how, the why, and the when of diseases, then epidemiology is the field for you. This specialty field picks apart illness and disease to give professionals a better understanding of the workings of viruses and bacteria, which contributes to better maintenance and control. Biology plays a large role in this field, which is great for students with a scientific interest.
View the MPH in Epidemiology Programs Guide
How people act and react is a major part of how devastating illness and disease are spread throughout humanity. Fields such as social and behavioral science place emphasis on these behaviors and how they can be changed to contribute to a better outcome for all people. If you have an interest in psychology or sociology, this would be a great specialty field for you.
Public health is a highly broad field. If you have the urge to expand your knowledge to an even bigger platform, that global health is a good place to start. Researching different areas of the world can contribute more knowledge to how we handle diseases and illnesses here in the U.S., so this field is great for people that have a cultured mindset and want to know more about the world in comparison to the United States.
Public Health Teaching and Education
One of the largest sectors of public health is in the field of education. Trainers, presenters, and educators are first-hand support for people within society that yearn to know more about how they can improve their own personal health. If you work in this field, you can work with groups of people, companies concerned for their employees, or even at universities.
Public Health Management
Management is needed in fields that are interested in the public health. Healthcare centers, disaster response agencies, and government public health officials provide a large role in how health is preserved on a large scale. This field is best suited for individuals that have experience in the public health field and want to exercise their expertise at the management level.
When you have obtained a Masters in Public Health, you can potentially have access to careers in a wide variety of specialties. Earnings may vary extensively depending on which field you work in, so we encourage you to do further research into the area you choose to work. Our experts looked into some of the commonly chosen paths for public health specialists, in an effort to give you some insight into the potential yearly earnings for each field.
- Epidemiologists – $69,450 on average per year (BLS)
- Environmental Scientists and Specialists – $67,460 on average per year (BLS)
- Health Educators and Community Health Workers – $43,840 on average per year (BLS)
- Statisticians – $80,110 on average per year (BLS)
- Medical and Health Service Managers – $94,500 per year on average (BLS)
- Social and Community Service Managers – $63,530 per year on average (BLS)
- Quality Control Inspectors – $36,000 per year on average (BLS)
- Occupational Health and Safety Specialists– $70,201 per year on average (BLS)
BONUS: Public Health in a Digital Age TED Talk
Public health as a field is ever evolving. The recent TED talk by Rachel McKendry is a good 15 minute view to see how we can pick up infectious diseases and viruses through digital methodologies to get early warnings and better prevention.