According to the U.S. Department of Labor, occupations within the field of community health education, health service management, epidemiology and environmental sciences are project to grow at the same rate, or faster, than the average occupational growth rate. Discussions surrounding items such as global warming, the Affordable Care Act, the emergence of certain infectious diseases and population health has led to an increased interest in public health. As such, jobs that require candidates to have a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree are becoming increasingly popular.
An MPH degree is the most popular graduate-level degree in the field of public health. Graduate degrees can be obtained through face-to-face instruction or online MPH programs. A graduate from an MPH program demonstrates a strong understanding of the five core areas related to improving health: biostatistics, epidemiology, health administration, environmental health sciences and behavioral and health sciences. Accredited schools of public health utilize a curriculum model that integrate cross-cutting competencies—such as leadership, systems thinking, professionalism, cultural awareness and diversity—into monitoring health for optimizing human growth and development. Therefore, job opportunities may be specifically tied to a discipline or require a broad knowledge of public health concepts.
Jobs in high demand for individuals with an MPH degree:
- Health educator
Health educators develop and implement health education programs that promote good health and disease prevention. They may plan community health programs or create and disseminate educational materials on public health issues such as immunizations, sexually transmitted diseases, smoking and drug abuse. They contend with behavioral, economic and social issues while working with other health professionals to determine the health needs and goals of community health services.
Biostatisticians analyze data to identify trends and track population health. They may participate in research that shows how geography, economics or race affects risk factors and health. This specialty involves a large amount of mathematics. There is a shortage of qualified biostatisticians, and there are career opportunities available in industry, academia and government settings.
- Environmental health director
Environmental health directors ensure that employees comply with federal, state, local and organizational regulations that relate to the health and safety of workers and the ecological impact of the company's procedures. They may oversee safety training for employees, investigate workplace injuries, analyze potential safety risks, inspect operations, and design and implement safety plans.
Epidemiologists scrutinize how diseases spread and develop solutions to reduce the rates of infection. These individuals must have a strong math background and understand the socio-economic factors that can affect the spread of disease, using this knowledge to prepare an appropriate response. Epidemiologists can be found working in local, state and federal health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, they may work with pharmaceutical companies, international organizations or private companies.
- Clinical research coordinator
Clinical research coordinators work with physicians on the design, organization and management of clinical trials. Clinical research coordinators oversee the daily activities of clinical trials and work alongside researchers, departments and organizations to give advice on the best way to conduct research studies. Research can be done in a wide variety of areas, including public health and medicine.
Growing demand for public health workers
Advocates for public health estimate that a substantial number of public health workers will be needed over the next decade. As the workforce continues to age, the percentage of persons eligible for retirement steadily increases. Therefore, many public health workers are retiring or preparing to retire, decreasing the number of adequately trained public health workers in the workforce. Consequently, increased life expectancies, the emergence of infections and chronic disease, environmental hazards and the growing complexity of health issues such as disaster preparedness have led to an increased need for public health workers. There is also a special concern for the lack of diversity among public health workers.
Public health officials face the daunting task of increasing the number of professionally trained public health workers dedicated to protecting the health of public. Increased funding to support public health infrastructures, leadership development programs and professional development activities have been implemented over the past few years to reduce the workforce gap. The job market for individuals with a master's in public health is promising. Jobs for MPH grads be found in areas such as education and research, public policy, environmental health, health administration and public policy. Hiring students with an MPH degree helps to ensure workforce demands are met by individuals with comprehensive knowledge of the primary core areas of public health.
Learn more about the University of South Carolina’s MPH online program.
US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved from: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/health-educators.htm; http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/epidemiologists.htm; http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm
On Linkages: Confronting the Public Health Workforce Crisis: ASPH Statement on Public Heath Workforce. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2289968/
The Public Health Foundation: Recruitment and Retention. Retrieved from: http://www.phf.org/programs/recruitmentandretention/Pages/RecruitmentandRetention_of_public_healthworkers.aspx
The Public Health Workforce Shortage: Left unchecked, who will be protected? Retrieved from: http://www.cpec.ca.gov/CompleteReports/ExternalDocuments/PublicHealthWorkforceIssueBrief.pdf
25 Most In-Demand Public Health Jobs and titles. Retrieved from: http://www.publichealthonline.org/careers
Have a question or concern about this article? Please contact us.