Pros and Cons of MPH Degree (Master's in Public Health) Jobs in 2019

by Robert S. Balan

With over 2,000 Masters in Public Health (MPH degrees) on our portal, it’s clear that the popularity of this discipline has constantly been growing over the years. But why? It’s simple. We have increased life expectancy, but we are still vulnerable to diseases and bad lifestyle choices.

This is where Public Health specialists come in. Their main objective is to improve the overall health and wellness of the human population. It’s a noble goal, for sure. But is it something you’d like to do?

In this article, we’ll look at the benefits and disadvantages of Public Health degree jobs. Our aim is to present the most popular jobs, analyse them, and highlight the most relevant facts so you can decide if an MPH degree followed by a career in Public Health is right for you.

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Benefits of Public Health jobs

Job security

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Public Health jobs are expected to grow between 5-11% in the next 10 years. This is not surprising given that the number of people suffering from chronic diseases is increasing every year. As we need more awareness of wellness and healthy habits, Public Health professionals will have numerous job opportunities.

Lucrative jobs

Careers in Public Health offer lucrative salaries to future graduates. It might take some time and experience to reach these numbers, but here are the average salaries in the US for popular jobs in Public Health:

  • Public Health Educator – 45,500 USD/year
  • Epidemiologist – 67,000 USD/year
  • Public Health Consultant – 57,000 USD/year
  • Public Health Administrator – 65,000 USD/year
  • Clinical Research Coordinator- 53,800 USD/year

Your work can influence millions of people/have a global impact

You can easily find meaning and fulfilment when you know that your work contributes to the health and general wellbeing of thousands, if not millions of people.

There’s a strong connection between responsibility and finding meaning, and Public Health jobs are among the most rewarding work opportunities in the world.

Steve Jobs said it best: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

Travel and work around the world

Public Health specialists can work anywhere in the world. You can apply your skills in any laboratory or work with people from other cultures and teach them how to take better care of themselves.

You might need to learn the local language depending on the country in which you move, but this is a great opportunity to expand your knowledge and understand the local mentality and habits.

Epidemiologist working in laboratory. Study a Master's in Public Health and work in Epidemiology. Disadvantages of Public Health jobs

Competition for entry-level jobs is high

With a Master’s in Public Health, you will compete with your colleagues and with Biology or Chemistry graduates when you enter the Public Health job market. It’s not going to be easy, but students who took internship opportunities and gained some work experience during studies have a much better chance to stand out.

Lack of funding for research

Students who choose to specialise in research can have stressful Public Health careers. Labs, NGOs, and Public Health programmes at healthcare institutions like hospitals rely on funding. If they don’t receive it, you risk losing your job.

Degrees are relatively expensive

Depending on your budget, university, and study destination, a degree in Public Health can be fairly expensive (we talk about tuition fees towards the end of the article). While you can earn well after graduation, it will take some time until you occupy a position that will make the initial financial investment worth it.

Confusion surrounding Public Health degrees

This one is closely related to the competition for entry jobs. Public Health is an interdisciplinary degree by nature, which means graduates from various fields can occupy the same job. Some universities add insult to injury by using names like “Health Sciences” instead of Public Health.

Now you understand why some employees are confused and sometimes require Public Health graduates to explain what they studied and how it can be applied.

Best Public Health careers

We’ll go through several popular jobs from various Public Health specialisations. Each one requires different specific skills in addition to Public Health knowledge. Understanding what different Public Health jobs involve will help you make the right career choice after graduation.

Public Health educator

Public Health educators aim to improve the health of individuals and communities through education on healthy lifestyles, nutrition, exercise, and chronic diseases. They are responsible for implementing Public Health programmes, evaluating their impact, and improving efficiency based on the cultural and social needs of a certain community.

Successful Public Health educators use pedagogical principles to prepare their classes and present information in an easy-to-digest manner. They take into account people’s feelings and try to improve their awareness of health and its importance.

Epidemiologist

Epidemiologists analyse patterns and try to understand what causes human disease and injury. They usually analyse data in laboratories, but sometimes their work involves taking samples and interviews during fieldwork. An epidemiologist reports his findings to the local government or the institution for which he/she is working (e.g. hospital, university). The main goal of Epidemiology is to use data to improve treatments and the prevention of illnesses.

Epidemiologists’ work overlaps with disciplines like Chemistry, Physics, and Data Analytics. One of the main risks of this job is contacting an infectious disease during fieldwork. This is avoided through careful training and taking advanced precautions while working with samples and patients.

Public Health Consultant

Public Health consultants ensure that Public Health programmes and policies respect the norms offer quality support to people. They usually work for the government or local agencies and analyse an organisation’s Public Health programmes, treatment methods, as well as the storage and handling of materials and medicine.

Public Health consultants create reports which are then used to recommend changes and ways to improve Public Health practices and guidelines. To work as a consultant in Public Health, you need to have strong analytical and writing skills, as well as the ability to communicate and adapt to different environments.

Public Health Administrator

Public Health administrators manage organisations that work to maintain and improve people’s health and wellbeing. Administrators oversee the coordination of Public Health programmes, budgets, and evaluate results and draw conclusions. Public Health administrators ensure tasks are clear and check if employees have everything need to perform their job properly.

To become a great Public Health administrator, you need to be a people person and enjoy taking big responsibilities. To be a leader, you need to communicate clearly and be a role model for your peers through your words and actions.

Clinical Research Coordinator

Clinical Research coordinators manage research teams and make sure members follow the rules and regulations during a clinical trial. Coordinators also work with funding companies and negotiate budgets. They are directly involved in recruiting patients and making sure they’re well taken care of. Clinical Research coordinators check that methods and results are recorded and stored safely.

Successful Clinical Research coordinators pay attention to details and following procedures is second nature to them. They know how to explain why things are done in a certain way and why following the rules is key to a successful clinical trial.

Clinical researchers examining results. Study a Master's in Public Health and become a clinical research coordinator.

Why is Public Health important?

It’s a well-known fact that people are living longer now when compared to 50 years ago. However, they are less healthy. Why?

There are multiple reasons: diet, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy habits (excessive smoking, drinking, etc.) stress and emotional imbalance, etc. A study at Newcastle University found that diseases like cancer, diabetes, dementia, and depression will become far more common by 2035. In this context, the work of Public Health researchers becomes crucial.

Bringing the necessary awareness and encouraging people to make healthier choices is essential if we want to avoid multi-morbidity, the condition of suffering from multiple chronic diseases, which usually occurs as people age.

Master’s degrees in Public Health (MPH)

Who are they for?

People who like statistics, numbers, and working with other people. If your main ambition is to improve the health of people worldwide and prevent them from getting sick in the first place, a postgraduate degree in Public Health is perfect.

Average tuition fees

Average tuition for MPH degrees is around 15,000 EUR/academic year. At the more affordable end, you can find Master’s programmes that are under 5,000 EUR/year.

Still not good enough? We hear you. Scandinavian countries like Norway, Finland, and Sweden offer free Public Health Masters. But remember to take into account the high living expenses in these countries.

If you live in a place where money grows on trees and you want to “spare no expense” (you’re welcome, Jurassic Park fans), you can go for Public Health degrees that cost over 50,000 EUR/year. No, a T-Rex is not included!

Study duration

All MPH courses take between 1-2 years to complete. This includes full-time and part-time programmes, as well as online Masters in Public Health.

Admission requirements for MPH degrees

  • Minimum English language test scores: IELTS – 6.5 TOEFL – 90
  • Minimum GPA score
  • A Bachelor’s degree in a health-related discipline
  • Work experience (usually 2-3 years)
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement

Your application process can be different. Some universities accept all students, including those with an undergraduate degree in a discipline that’s not related to health. Other institutions won’t demand work experience at all. Always check the demands for your study programme and ask questions from the university staff if things are unclear.

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Your career in Public Health awaits

The work of Public Health specialist overlays with Good Health and Well-being, which is one of UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. We seem to slowly realise that no matter how much technology improves our work and comfort, it cannot force us to make better decisions and look after our health.

In a world where instant gratification and pleasure rule, Public Health experts can make a difference and guide us in the right direction. You can be one of the people who go to sleep at night knowing that today they’ve made the world a little better and that’s something we should all pursue.

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