Posted June 19, 2012 by

Determining if a Masters in Public Health Education is For You

An Apple a Day...One of the fastest growing fields in the U.S, public health is a booming industry, with job opportunities expected to grow significantly in the coming years. As the population ages, disease spread more rapidly, companies look to cut healthcare costs and new threats of terrorism appear every day, there’s a growing need for professionals who can educate the public on health threats and possible solutions.

The question is, is public health the right field for you? And if it is, is it worth the time and expense to earn a masters in public health, known as the MPH?

Employment Opportunities

There’s no escaping it: most of the higher level public health positions within governmental and public sector organizations require applicants to hold at least a master’s degree. It is possible to land a good job with just a bachelor’s degree and significant experience within the public health sector, but holding an advanced degree is definitely preferable to many employers. So in terms of employment, if you are sure that you want to pursue a career in public health, then earning a MPH degree is a necessity. What Do You Want to Do?

If you aren’t yet convinced that you want a career in public health, there are some questions you should ask yourself before enrolling in a degree program:

What area do I want to focus on?

Public health education is a wide ranging field. It includes everything from working to improve access to medical care for everyone to work with government agencies to prepare disease prevention materials. For example, a state public health office may embark on a campaign to prevent the spread of the flu during the winter months, and employ public health educators to develop and implement that campaign. Determine where you want to focus by researching the options, and programs that will need your needs and goals.

Do I want to serve others?

The field of public health is all about serving others, and keeping people as healthy as possible. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to perform direct patient care. Some public health educators do interact directly with patients; a public health educator might visit with low-income parents of newborn, for example, to provide guidance and support. Other public health educators might serve in an advisory role to a government agency, performing research and providing analysis of public health policy.

Those who want to serve in a patient care capacity generally have nursing training on top of their public health education; if providing that type of care is more appealing, you may want to pursue a nursing degree rather than one in public health.

Do you want to open up new opportunities in your current position?

Many students who pursue a Master’s in Public Health Education are professionals who have already been working in the healthcare industry and want to improve access to higher positions. A degree in public health education helps you develop the leadership skills necessary for administrative positions, as well as giving you the tools you need to solve problems and create strategies for  solving public health issues. With the MPH, you’ll have both the quantitative and qualitative skills you need to make a measurable difference in the prevention of disease and promotion of health.

Do you want to increase your earning power? Not only does a MPH degree improve your job prospects, it also improves your earning power. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that most MPH graduates land a job within a year of finishing school, and most earn well above their peers without the graduate degree. In fact, some positions in healthcare administration, program management, and public health practice pay well over six figures annually.

Choosing to enter any master’s degree program is a big decision, and not one to be made on a whim. If you are committed to improving the lives of others through your work, though, and want to build a career around advocating for health, then seeking public health masters programs may be the best career move that you can make.

This guest post article was written and provided by Marissa Krauss. Marissa finished her Bachelor’s degree online this last fall. She is continuing her education by also pursuing her Master’s degree online.

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