Is a Public Health Degree Worth It? [2021 Guide]

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Is a public health degree worth it?

Is a Public Health Degree Worth It

Public health professionals can make relevant and crucial healthcare contributions to their communities and to society.

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Earning a degree in public health can enable you to build the necessary educational foundation to pursue a career in this rewarding field.

Is a Public Health Degree Worth It?

Public Health Degree

Yes, a public health degree is worth it for many students. A bachelor’s in public health can be a beneficial way to build the foundational knowledge and skills necessary to step into a more advanced position within the healthcare services industry.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in healthcare is projected to grow 16% over the next ten years. Community and social service occupations are expected to experience 12% job growth.

A public health bachelor degree may lead to rewarding and dynamic careers, where you may have the opportunity to have an impact on the community and society you work for.

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 12% job growth for health education specialists and 21% job growth for community health workers over the next ten years. These positions are growing much faster than the average for all occupations. Holding a bachelors degree in public health generally leads to better paying positions than an associates degree.

With experience, you may have the opportunity to work in public health management positions as well. Employment for social and community service managers is projected to increase 15% over the next ten years.

How to Decide Whether a Public Health Degree Is Right for You

management in public health

A public health degree is not for everyone. It can require a lot of commitment to the service and care of others and many hours of training. Here are three factors to consider to help you decide if a public health degree is right for you.

1. Your career goals are focused on management in public health.

A bachelors in public health can help you build a foundation of knowledge and skills for the public healthcare industry.

After accumulating work experience and immersing yourself into public health services, you may have the opportunity to grow into administrative and management roles.

2. You are passionate about helping people.

degree in public health

A public health degree may lead to careers that require a lot of time, energy, and emotional investment. It helps to be committed to improving and healing the lives of others. On a larger scale, in the field of public health, it helps to be committed to helping your community.

3. You are interested in improving the wellness of communities.

Pursuing a degree in public health typically requires an interest in wellness and health education. It’s beneficial to have an analytical mindset and to be open to analyzing, improving, and integrating new healthcare policies.

Some public health professionals also monitor disease and the impact of disease on a larger scale. A scientific mind is a strategic asset in this industry.

5 Things You Can Do with a Public Health Degree

Healthcare Administrator

A public health degree may lead to a variety of roles within the healthcare industry. Below are a few careers you may want to consider. These careers are vastly different, but they can all make a potential impact on their communities.

1. Healthcare Administrator

Healthcare administrators plan and direct other healthcare employees. They also coordinate business responsibilities within an organization.

Healthcare administrators ensure that the services in their community are being delivered efficiently, and they can also be responsible for hiring and training new recruits.

2. Public Health Advisor

Public Health Advisor

Public health advisors collect, organize, and analyze health data for communities. Through this analysis, they are able to inform and create public health policies and proper health education.

They may find employment in a variety of organizations, or they might work for the government to influence and improve health programs.

3. Public Health Nutritionist

A nutritionist is responsible for working one-on-one with a patient to advise them on a tailored dietary plan to lead to specific health-related goals. A public health nutritionist makes plans and sets goals for groups of people, promoting good health in communities.

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They assess the relationship between eating habits and disease, and they educate others to make better choices based on scientific research. Becoming a nutritionist typically involves earning a degree in nutrition or a related field. Those who want to enter the public health sector often go on to earn a masters in public health with a concentration in nutrition.

4. Emergency Health Services Manager

In cases of emergency or pandemics and disease, emergency health services managers refine emergency health plans for communities. They can also respond to the healthcare requirements of their community and help them recover from health-related needs.

Emergency Health Services Manager

Emergency health services managers also reassess policy and planning to prevent further healthcare emergencies.

5. Policymaker

Public health policymakers generally work for the government or for private insurance institutions. They are trained to understand how health has an economic impact on communities and to mitigate any damage done by health emergencies.

Policymakers also attempt to amend or create policies that better service emergencies and organizations.

Common Bachelor of Science in Public Health Concentrations

Bachelor of Science in Public Health Concentrations

If you decide to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Public Health, you may have the opportunity to choose a specific focus or concentration for your studies. Here are some common concentrations for a public health degree:

  • Epidemiology. This concentration is all about infectious diseases and viruses. You can study these viruses in a controlled environment in order to properly plan or prepare should there ever be a pandemic or outbreak.
  • Child and Maternal Health. This concentration focuses on the vulnerable population of mothers and children. Students who pursue this concentration can come to better understand the health needs of this population, and you can try to mitigate future health problems that may occur to this population.
  • Biostatistics. This concentration combines the two disciplines of biology and statistics. You can strengthen your data collection, organization, and analysis skills, with a specific concentration on healthcare issues and concerns. You can learn how to properly interpret the data to make accurate predictions on the health, science, and medical wellness of a community.
  • Global Health. This specialization looks at healthcare and wellness needs on a global scale. You can learn how to make healthcare and healthcare services more equitable to global populations. You can also study international healthcare issues and develop projects to help detect and address these concerns.
  • Environmental Health. This discipline looks at the relationship between environmental health and human health, especially with regards to how the natural environment may influence emotional or mental wellbeing. You can also study hazards in the environment that may pose health issues to communities.

While you are not typically required to choose a concentration, you may find that specializing in a particular area is beneficial for your career goals.

Bachelors in Public Health Degree Alternatives

Bachelors in Public Health Degree

If general wellness, helping others, and entering into the healthcare sector interests you, here are some degree alternatives you may also want to consider:

  1. Bachelor’s in Health Services Administration. This degree focuses on developing your management and administration skills, particularly for a healthcare organization. This degree might be a good fit if you’re interested in leadership roles in hospitals, hospital networks, or healthcare centers.
  2. Bachelor’s in Pre Medicine. If you want to become a medical doctor, you may want to consider a bachelors degree in pre-med. This degree can help prepare you with the scientific and laboratory requirements needed to continue on to medical school.
  3. Bachelor’s in Social Work. If you wish to help others in a compassionate role outside of health and wellness, a Bachelor of Social Work can help develop your social work skills to serve your community and improve social welfare.

These are just a few alternative degree options available to you that focus on healthcare or serving the community.

Public Health Major Careers & Salaries

Public Health Major Careers & Salaries

A degree in public health may qualify you to enter an industry that is seeing growing demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 16% job growth for healthcare occupations over the next ten years, which is significantly higher than the average for all occupations.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some careers that are related to public health and the community and social service sector.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Medical and Health Services Managers $104,280
Statisticians, Healthcare and Social Assistance $79,440
Emergency Management Directors $76,250
Social and Community Service Managers $69,600
Dietitians and Nutritionists $63,090
Health Education Specialists $56,500
Environmental Science and Protection Technicians $46,850
Community Health Workers $42,000
Agricultural and Food Science Technicians $41,970
Social and Human Service Assistants $35,960

With community and global healthcare at the center of your studies, you may qualify for a number of entry-level roles in the healthcare and community service industries.

Careers and corresponding salaries can vary depending on a number of factors, such as your work experience and the organization you work for. A number of these careers, such as nutritionist, may also require specialized training or further education.

Is Public Health a Good Major?

Yes, public health is a good major for many undergraduate students. If you are passionate about helping others, you may find that this major is a good fit for you. There are a variety of applications for this degree, depending on your interests and chosen concentration.

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Many consider a bachelor in public health to be a beneficial foundation for a career in the healthcare industry or in the community service and social sector. Further work experience may lead to administration and leadership roles later on.

What Can You Do with a Public Health Degree?

Bachelor degrees in public health

Bachelor degrees in public health can prepare students to pursue numerous opportunities in various organizations, depending on their specializations.

Common public health careers include biostatistician, public health policymaker, and health education specialist. Public health professionals with work experience may work as social and community services managers, medical and health services managers, or administrative services managers.

A number of factors can influence what jobs you can qualify for after graduation, such as work experience, geographical location, and industry of choice.

What Are the Highest Paying Public Health Jobs?

Highest Paying Public Health Jobs

In the public health industry, the more education you have, the higher starting salary you will likely have as well. In addition, more job opportunities often accompany more work experience.

Medical and health services managers are some of the highest paying positions in public health. The median salary for these positions is $104,280 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Biostatistician is another well-paying job, though it often requires a masters degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, statisticians in the healthcare and social assistance industry earn a median salary of $79,440.

A master degree is often required for epidemiologists as well. The median salary for this role is $74,560. Emergency management directors make a median of $76,250 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Is Public Health a Good Career?

Public Health career

Yes, public health is a good career for many professionals. Public health positions can be found in a variety of organizations and facilities where healthcare is a priority, so this type of work is not limited to a hospital or clinic.

Common careers in this sector include policymaker, social and community services manager, biostatistician, and health education specialist.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 16% job growth for healthcare occupations over the next ten years. Community and social service occupations are expected to experience 12% job growth, which is much faster than the average growth rate.

Getting Your Bachelor of Public Health Online

Bachelor of Public Health Online

A bachelors degree in public health may be a good fit for you if you have the desire to improve the wellbeing of others on a community level.

By pursuing your public health degree online, you may have the chance to structure your academic program around your personal and professional obligations. Online programs are typically known for their flexibility and convenience.

If you are ready to get your foot in the door of the public healthcare industry, you can start by exploring available online degrees from accredited universities.

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Claudia Amendola Alzraa
WRITTEN BY
Claudia Amendola Alzraa
Claudia has a Master's in Library and Information Studies, a Bachelor's in Education, and a Bachelor's with Honors in English and Philosophy. With a history working in Special Education, Claudia is an advocate for diversified and equitable education, and student success initiatives.