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Public Health Master's

written by: wilhackney•edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch•updated: 9/22/2010

Looking for a satisfying way to improve the health of the community you live in without the time and expense of becoming a doctor? A master's degree in public health is the perfect solution.

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    Master's Degree in Public Health

    Turn on the evening news, read the local paper: healthcare is one of the most frequently heard words in the news today. Whatever your opinion of healthcare is, you cannot ignore the fact that it is one of the most diverse and fastest growing areas of employment. The healthcare field is expanding everyday with new opportunities for exciting and rewarding careers for individuals who have a deep desire to be an advocate for improving living conditions for people of all racial and socioecomic situations. Jobs are available in both the public and private sector for individuals with a master's degree in public health. No longer do you have to be doctor or a nurse to secure a job in the healthcare industry. Public health professionals have the unique opportunity to form interrelationships with healthcare, politics and human development. Using analytical and research skills, public health professionals are able to develop and carry out programs that are capable of promoting the general good health of huge populations of varied races and socioeconomic conditions.

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    Careers with a Master's Degree in Public Health

    Careers requiring a master's in public health are available involving nutrition, environmental health, health services administration and scientific research, just to name a few. Service agencies such as the Red Cross and the American Cancer Society also have positions which require a master's in public health. Positions in the public or private sector may involve working with abuse victims, controlling infectious diseases, making policy regarding environmental issues, treating drug and alcohol addicts, and helping during natural and manmade disasters.

    The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) are two large government agencies that hire applicants with a master's degree of public health. State and local health departments also have positions which require a master's of public health. Protecting the public’s health can be the job of social workers, lawyers, journalists and teachers, all of which can specialize in the study of public health. The desire to make a difference and enhance public in a positive, organized manner is perhaps the main reason one would seek a career in public health.

    Many international companies have need of employees with public health experience. An applicant who is fluent in a second language, especially Spanish, would be a great asset for an international company. Greater access to good healthcare is quickly becoming a worldwide concern.

    Do you eat out in restaurants? Shop at the local grocery store or Wal-Mart for groceries? The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) directly affects you by using food inspectors at every level of the food chain. Pharmaceutical companies also need public health professionals who may work in randomized trials. Don’t forget about the health insurance industry. They also hire public health professionals to help write policies, review policies and investigate claims.

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    Salary Information

    Salaries vary widely, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, based on the position and company you work for. Adjusted for inflation within one year of graduation, you can anticipate a salary from $31,000 for a beginning nutritionist in a local school system to $161,400 for an experienced health services administrator in a large hospital. If you enjoy working with numbers, jobs are available in biostatistics with salaries ranging from $33,000 to $63,000. Environmental health is also a fast growing field. The Gulf oil spill is an excellent example of an environmental health disaster. Salaries for environmental health positions can range from $44,500 to $143,700.00. The U.S. Department of Labor is a great source of information for salaries for healthcare professionals throughout the country.

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    Program and Degree Options for Public Health

    Schools across the country offer degrees in public health. Many have online classes which make it perfect for a working professional to pursue a graduate degree. What are you passionate about? Are you concerned with the rising rate of obesity in children? As a nutritionist, you could work to improve the food in the local school system’s cafeteria. Do the potential health problems from the Gulf oil spill trouble you? As an environmental health specialist, you could be in a position to find potential solutions.

    Each year, more and more colleges are offering public health degrees. Virginia Tech has an excellent public health program, as does Johns Hopkins.The options available for school choices are as varied as the jobs that are being created daily for healthcare professionals.

    A useful website for those interested in public health is, which describes the various jobs in detail that you can qualify for with a master's degree in public health. To find a particular degree program, go to, then search for the program.

    Different master's degrees are available in the field of public health. These include:

    Master of Public Health: MPH

    Master of Public Health Administration: MPHA

    Master of Science in Public Health: MSPH

    Master of Health Administration: MHA

    Each degree offers different opportunities and career options in public health.