What Can I Do with a Public Health Master's Degree?

Receiving a master's degree in public health allows you to work in many occupational settings involved with promoting healthy bodies and minds. Read on to find out more about your career prospects and job responsibilities. Schools offering Public Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Public Health Defined

When you earn a master's degree in public health, you study the various aspects that factor into the health and well-being of a community or population. You focus on the biological, environmental, social, behavioral and cultural elements that promote or hinder the health of people. Along with learning how to monitor, diagnose and investigate community health problems, you learn to teach people to maintain their health and locate adequate healthcare when necessary. You'll also learn to create programs and policies that enforce public health and safety legislation. Individuals with master's degrees in public health can find careers in several fields, including medical and health services administration, health education and promotion and environmental health.

Important Facts About a Career in Public Health

Health Services AdministrationHealth Education and Promotion Environmental HealthResearch
Key Skillsinterpersonal and communication detail-oriented problem-solvinginterpersonal and writing problem-solving instructional analytical problem-solving self-discipline math & statistics critical thinking teaching
Licensuremay be requiredcertification may be requirednonenone
Job Outlook (2012-2022)23% 21%15%10%
Median Salary (2014)$92,810$50,430$66,250 $67,420 (epidemiologists)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Careers in Medical and Health Services Administration

If you've earned a master's degree in public health, you are qualified to work in the field of healthcare administration. You would oversee the everyday workings of a hospital, community clinic, health department or nonprofit organization such as the American Heart Association. Job duties may include personnel supervision and training; interdepartmental function coordination; accounting; and cash management. Specific positions in this field include:

  • Medical office manager
  • Health and social services manager
  • Program manager
  • Nutrition services manager

Careers in Health Education and Promotion

Although a bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement for many health education positions, jobs in public health education will generally require you to hold a master's degree. Your role in health education and promotion may involve developing programs and creating media materials aimed at informing the public on health topics. To work in a public health department, certain states require you to become certified as a health educator. You can find career titles such as these in the health education and promotion field:

  • Public health educator
  • Community health consultant
  • Director of health education
  • Community planning program specialist

Careers in Environmental Health

If you held a position in environmental and occupational health, you'd identify and analyze the factors that lead to ill health in residences and workplaces. You'd attempt to make living and working safe in areas that may contain pollutants or other hazardous materials. If you'd like to work in environmental health, you might consider choosing a school that offers a concentration or specialization in environmental health within its public health master's degree program. Some job titles available to you in the field of environmental health include:

  • Environmental scientist
  • Environmental health specialist
  • Senior industrial hygienist
  • Manager of safety and health

Careers in Research

Many Master of Public Health programs include coursework in microbiology, genetics, pathophysiology, biostatistics and epidemiology. Studies in these areas could lead you to pursue a career in research. Some programs might allow you to select an area of concentration in one of these topics or in clinical research. You might find work in federally-funded labs, academic institutions or health agencies. Job titles could include:

  • Epidemiologist
  • Biostatistician
  • Clinical research director

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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