If you desire a rewarding career in health science to build a healthier future for others, a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree can help you get there. You can gain the necessary, science-based expertise to solve complex health challenges, as well as qualify for multi-industry employment upon graduation.
Read on to learn about four popular career profiles for MPH graduates:
Build your skills with biostatistician expertise.
If your background is in biology, an MPH can complement your science expertise with knowledge of statistics — a foundational skill for biostatisticians. Biostatisticians analyze population data to facilitate scientific research for the public and private sectors. An MPH can teach you to use data to examine environmental and behavioral impacts on living organisms.
Earning your MPH is also an investment in the emerging area of big data and data analytics tools, a knowledge base that is becoming vital for modern biostatisticians.
And, demand is high. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment of medical scientists — a common classification for biostatisticians — to increase by 8 percent nationally between 2014 and 2024. Statisticians as a whole are projected to see 34 percent job growth nationally in that same time frame.
Also, according to Payscale, the median salary for a U.S.-based biostatistician is around $75,000
Common work environments for biostatisticians.
Biostatisticians work in a variety of settings, from government agencies to academic institutions to pharmaceutical research companies. Given the nature of the work — collecting, coding and analyzing data — much of the job takes place in an office or clinical setting, with occasional data-gathering fieldwork.
The application of biostatistical research varies based on the organization. For example, biostatisticians working for pharmaceutical companies may examine how specific chemical compounds affect segments of the population, while those in the public sector may study the health outcomes associated with environmental hazards.
Improve public health as a behavioral scientist.
Behavioral scientists — commonly known as social scientists or sociologists — blend psychology, cognitive science and biology to study behavior. These scientists examine the larger social structures to discern trends that govern how people react to stimuli in specific environments.
Their work consists of two interconnected focus areas: population behaviors that impact health outcomes and external factors that influence and shape human behavior.
An MPH degree takes a proactive approach to improving behavioral health through education and health promotion, with a goal to prevent and reduce health risks. Also, your MPH can teach you how to improve health for individuals and communities by shaping public policy.
This well-rounded skill set, and the diversity of behavioral science careers, places MPH graduates at an advantage in a robust job market:
- Broader opportunity. Life, physical and social science careers are projected to grow 7 percent from 2014 to 2024, resulting in 97,600 new jobs. (BLS)
- Higher earnings. The median salary of social scientists is $77,020. (U.S. Department of Labor)
- Strong lifetime career projections. Entry-level professionals can start at $40,725 and senior-level roles can earn upwards of $120,000. (Payscale.com)
While tied to health outcomes, behavioral scientists often find work in a variety of organizations that may only be tangentially related to health. According to Careers in Public Health, these could include roles as social workers, mental health counselors or criminologists, in addition to educational and government work.
Organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also employ behavioral scientists to study topics such as gang violence and risk of drug addiction in the U.S. population. Corporations may also hire a behavioral scientist to use data to guide HR and organizational decisions, which the company can then use to create a better work environment.
Develop life-saving medicine as an epidemiologist.
From the global elimination of deadly pathogens to battling health challenges rooted in behavioral issues like smoking or obesity, epidemiologists are on the front lines of research and advancement. These professionals study data in laboratory and clinical settings to design research methodologies that develop life-saving medicines and vaccines.
Epidemiologists are highly trained and sought after in the fields of public health, with organizations like the CDC, National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization regularly seeking their expertise.
Epidemiology is also a lucrative career path: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, professionals in this field earn a median salary of $70,820. The BLS predicts epidemiologist careers should grow by 6 percent nationally between 2014 and 2024. Additionally, top-earning epidemiologists can make more than $98,000 annually.
Create healthy outcomes as a nutritionist.
As the American obesity epidemic reaches crisis levels, with two of every three adults considered to be overweight, the public faces a significant impact on life expectancy and quality of life. In response, public health experts such as nutritionists are being called on to help teach better, more conscientious eating habits and advocate for nutrition policy reform.
Those seeking nutritionist roles are entering a burgeoning field: According to the BLS, the job outlook for nutritionists and dietitians between 2014 and 2024 is likely to see much faster than average growth of 16 percent nationally; additionally, nutritionists earn a median salary of $58,920, but top-earners can make more than $75,760.
Some of the career options for nutritionists include the following:
- Clinical dietitians oversee the nutritional needs of patients in hospitals and other direct care settings.
- Research nutritionists study the health effects of certain diets and foods on the population.
- Management dietitians take the most up-to-date data and applying it to meal planning insight for private and public sector organizations.
- Consultant nutritionists work independently or under contract with health care facilities to provide nutritional evaluations and education.
Outside of these roles, there are also career opportunities with organizations like the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration, which guide public policy as it relates to diet.
In a 2016 editorial, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) outlined how “confusing and conflicting advice about nutrition” may be rooted in the challenges to incentivize healthy eating, and greater emphasis is needed on using data in prevention efforts.
To this end, Master of Public Health graduates can make effective nutritionists, in that they use data in meal preparation, calorie counts and portioning to create clear, actionable guidance. For public health nutritionists, 35 states require dietitians and nutritionists to be licensed, 12 require statutory certification and one requires registration.
An MPH can offer you more than a vital first step toward advanced licensing, but also a deep understanding of nutritional knowledge, its governing policy and high-level research on the critical issues affecting modern health.
Build healthy futures. Earn your MPH degree.
A Master of Public Health can prepare you to become more than an effective practitioner; it can equip you with the in-demand knowledge base that saves lives. Its specialized curriculum touches on the full spectrum of public health, which can be paramount in your career development.
BLS.gov – Medical Scientists