The health care industry continues to evolve at an accelerated pace as providers and other ancillary organizations adopt cutting-edge technology, clinical workflows, and administrative strategies. Consequently, many professionals in the space are looking to move into innovative leadership positions where they can leverage these creative new tools and approaches to transform the sector from the top down. How are many of these individuals making such moves midcareer? Graduate school. The number of health care master’s degrees conferred annually has increased dramatically over the past decade, the analysts at the National Center for Education Statistics found. In 2007, U.S. graduate programs conferred just over 58,000 such degrees. By 2018, the latest year for which data is available, this figure rose to more than 125,000.
There are numerous program options. However, many rising health care leaders pursue a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree. Like most graduate credentials, an MPH can lead to potentially higher salaries and numerous new career opportunities. Health care professionals who have completed an advanced degree program can go on to assume a variety of MPH career outcomes.
Despite the existence of advanced medical technology and treatment regimens, communicable and noncommunicable diseases continue to kill millions worldwide, according to research from the World Health Organization. Additionally, a number of illnesses once thought to be on the verge of eradication are returning. For example, measles has made a comeback in recent years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This requires on-the-ground action, and epidemiologists are the professionals responsible for spearheading such efforts, organizing field analysis and disease awareness and prevention programs designed to address epidemic fatalities.
MPH Salary: Epidemiologist
Many MPH degree holders enter the field of epidemiology, leveraging their multifaceted skill sets to help patients across the globe. Most work in public health departments at federal, state, and local government agencies and colleges, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Job duties vary, as some epidemiologists lead analysis teams into the field to conduct research at ground zero, while others coordinate laboratory operations or direct wide-reaching community health awareness activities. The BLS notes that the median annual salary for U.S.-based epidemiologists was $70,900 as of May 2019, potentially making this MPH career outcome both fulfilling and financially rewarding.
Nonprofit Health Care Coordinator
While national health care systems can effectively facilitate care for millions, disparities still exist. People of color, the poor, and the elderly can be more likely to suffer from such systemic inequities. Only massive restructuring can fill these gaps and open up access to care. Unfortunately, the health care reform process is slow-moving. As stakeholders debate the minutia of health care delivery and cost, tens of millions of people slip through the cracks. Nonprofit organizations are often there to catch these individuals, leveraging independent operations, funded through donations and corporate grants, to provide critical care.
The World Health Organization (WHO), which was founded in 1945 and has more than 7,000 full-time employees, uses a network of 150 field offices to address epidemic diseases afflicting the impoverished and disenfranchised. Others, such as the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS and the International Diabetes Foundation, take more focused approaches, using their resources to address specific patients. In all, there are more than 130 U.S.-based health care nonprofits operating throughout the globe.
MPH Salary: Nonprofit Health Care Coordinator
Nonprofit health care coordinators are responsible for directing the critical programs these organizations provide, using administrative and clinical experience and expertise to help individuals suffering from health care disparities get the medical attention they need. In addition to managing everyday operations, these leaders often build relationships with aligned government agencies, private companies, and nonprofit partners.
According to the BLS, U.S.-based community health workers had an annual median salary of $40,360, as of May 2019. The exciting leadership opportunities attached to this role make it a common MPH career outcome for degree holders who can easily translate their graduate education into the real world.
Public Health Educator
Public health educators are immersed in the communities they serve, as they aim to bring awareness to public health issues. They assess the needs of individual people and communities and identify existing programs and resources. Career paths commonly include working in health care facilities, colleges, public health departments, and private businesses. Public health educators can help individual patients manage their medical conditions by educating them and their family members. They can organize community events, advocate for new policies, and implement new programs regarding a variety of health topics.
MPH Salary: Public Health Educator
Public health educators may need to earn the Certified Health Education Specialist credential before they can begin working, and their specific job may require training. While a bachelor’s degree is required for the role, a Master of Public Health degree can set public health educators apart in the field. Annual salaries can vary based on job location, experience, and education level. According to the BLS, public health educators had a median annual salary of $55,220 as of May 2019.
Health Care Consultant
Both government-operated and private health care organizations in the U.S. are plagued by inefficiencies stemming from poor operational practices and lack of managerial oversight. This has multiple material impacts. Americans pay more for health care than their peers in all other developed countries, with such expenditures accounting for almost 18% of the country’s gross domestic product, analysts for the CDC discovered. These costs are directly linked to operational inefficiency at every level.
Additionally, despite this massive spending, access is limited. The average American visits his or her doctor four times per year, while residents in other developed countries make trips to the physician’s office at three times that rate. On top of that, 27.5 million Americans did not have health care coverage in 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau in the 2019 Health Insurance Coverage report. This state of affairs could improve if providers were able to streamline their operations, cut costs, and funnel wasted funds into new programs.
MPH Salary: Health Care Consultant
Health care organizations looking to pursue such improvements do not normally embark on reform efforts alone — they hire consultants. These professionals leverage health care administration insights, real-world experience, and data-based decision-making workflows to propose and implement fixes that mend defective business and clinical processes. The median annual salary for health care consultants is around $77,800, according to PayScale. The innovative work involved with this role and the compensation make it an ideal MPH career outcome for MPH program graduates looking to make an impact in health care.
Occupational Health and Safety Specialist
Occupational health and safety specialists ensure the safety of workplace processes and procedures in order to protect workers. They test and inspect work environments, tools, equipment, regulations, and processes and compile reports based on their analysis. They examine potentially hazardous situations and provide training on how to avoid similar situations in the future. Investigating accidents in the workplace is another job of occupational health and safety specialists.
MPH Salary: Occupational Health and Safety Specialist
According to the BLS, occupational health and safety specialists held 122,600 jobs across the country in 2019. That number is projected to grow by 4,800 jobs by 2029. Professionals in this role have an annual median salary of $70,480, with those in the highest 10% earning more than $111,130. Salaries for this MPH career outcome can vary based on one’s level of education and certification, among other factors.
Earn a Master of Public Health Degree
Professionals looking to pursue any of the aforementioned career paths would do well to consider earning an advanced degree to gain the knowledge needed to succeed as a leader. The online Master of Public Health at Regis College is one of those instructional tracks. In the program, students can acquire the skills and experience needed to make an impact in any of a variety of roles. The curriculum covers essential subjects such as global and public health, epidemiology, health and society, public health policy and advocacy, and public health leadership.
Additionally, the program is 100% online, meaning aspiring health care leaders can build the knowledge they need to move up the career ladder without sacrificing their current positions or personal obligations. Learn more about how the online Master of Public Health degree program at Regis College can prepare you to achieve your career goals.