Do I need an advanced degree to work in the field of public health?

Public health is a rewarding field dedicated to helping improve the quality of life for others. Professionals from many diverse educational and occupational backgrounds pursue careers in public health. Researchers, teachers, administrators, social workers, laboratory scientists, and attorneys all have a role to play in the development and implementation of public health policies. In thinking about your career options, one important factor to take into consideration is the level of degree that should accompany your work experience. How might job options be expanded by further college-level study? Can an advanced degree improve opportunities for a higher salary and job promotion? Is an advanced degree necessary to work in the field of public health?


What Skills Can Be Gained From An Advanced Degree?

In order to be successful in a public health profession, a person must excel in several areas. Skills that can be enhanced through advanced-level education that benefit those seeking a career in public health include communication with diverse populations, up-to-date quantitative and qualitative analysis methods, development of multidisciplinary strategies for solving complex health-related problems, and increased knowledge of the social and legislative issues that shape policy development.

Will A Higher Degree Deliver A Higher Salary?

While it is possible to gain job experience in public health-related areas, opportunities for increased salary and career advancement are greatly improved with the addition of an advanced degree. Just how much a salary will be influenced by the possession of an advanced degree is dependent on what field within public health is selected. According to the Association of Schools of Public Health , a career path in epidemiology can earn anywhere from $38,175 to $136,237. Earning an advanced degree in public health greatly increases the likelihood that you will have a firm basis for negotiating a satisfactory income.

What Kinds Of Degrees Are Available In Public Health?

Study in several different programs qualify a person for a career in public health. Areas of particular interest to public health professionals include health administration, environmental health, health education, as well as specialty areas like infant and maternal health, nutrition, epidemiology, and biostatistics. Determining what level of academic degree would best serve your career goals depends largely on your individual strengths and enthusiasm.

For those interested in research innovation, a Master of Science (M.S.) degree or a doctoral (Ph.D.) degree would best serve your needs. Academic degrees like the M.S. and the Ph.D. are well-suited to teaching positions that will educate future generations of public health professionals.

Other advanced education options include an Master of Public Health (M.P.H.), a Doctor of Public Health (Dr.P.H.), or a Master of Health Administration (M.H.A.). These degrees are for individuals seeking to find work with groups such as state and local health and human services agencies, non-profit health organizations, or other community healthcare resources.

Many education options are available. Choosing the path that is right for you is an important first step. While it may not be absolutely necessary to earn an advanced degree in public health, doing so vastly increases your odds of finding the job satisfaction and earnings potential you feel most comfortable with.

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