Is an MPH Worth It? Benefits and Career Opportunities

When you find yourself wondering, “Is an MPH degree worth it,” there is a lot to think about. You will need to assess:

  • The amount of work that goes into completing the degree program
  • How pursuing a degree impacts your current job situation
  • The costs of completing a program relative to the salary increases you can expect
  • The job prospects associated with the degree over time

When it comes to pursuing a Master of Public Health degree (MPH), the potential gains can be significant. Public health initiatives are a major part of today’s health care field, and the skills provided through the degree program are applicable to a wide range of positions. With this in mind, here’s a look at some of the key factors that contribute to the value of MPH programs.

What Are the Benefits of an MPH?

MPH graduates are prepared to work in a variety of areas, ranging from environmental health and community health, to health administration. Students in an MPH program can expect to learn how to investigate health trends and combat epidemics and disease. They can also gain knowledge about the processes behind creating health policy in varied settings, managing care delivery, and promoting health and wellness.

Medical team and administrator shaking hands.

These skills apply to a wide range of job roles, positioning individuals with an MPH to work in diverse settings, from hospitals and research labs, to government agencies and community advocacy groups. The job prospects, and potential earnings, are promising.

What Are the Career Prospects for Individuals with an MPH?

Individuals with an MPH can pursue a wide range of career opportunities. The ability to understand the big-picture implications of health care policies and procedures is valuable to a variety of employers and sectors.

Three of the most prominent roles associated with a master’s degree in public health are as follows.

Epidemiologist

An epidemiologist is a health care professional specializing in analyzing the underlying patterns and circumstances surrounding diseases and injuries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most epidemiologists possess an MPH degree. Epidemiologists perform studies on public health problems, and gather data pertaining to diseases and epidemics to communicate that information to practitioners, policymakers, and the public.

In many ways, the focus of an epidemiologist is heavily investigative, but some of the work also incorporates managing teams of technicians and other specialists involved in performing studies. Epidemiologists work in both the private and public sectors, researching a wide array of medical issues, including mental health, infectious diseases, environmental health, and emergency response, the BLS explains.

The median annual salary for epidemiologists was $74,560 as of May 2020, according to the BLS. Job growth is expected at a 5% rate from 2019 to 2029, which is just above average compared to the growth projected for all other occupations.

Medical and Health Services Manager

Efficiency is a growing priority across the health care sector, where efforts to keep costs under control while improving the quality of care are the new normal. In this climate, individuals with an understanding of public health concepts and the underlying systems of the health care industry have key expertise to offer. Whether it is working as a hospital administrator, or managing a public health agency in the local government, individuals with an MPH degree can be valuable to organizations.

Students wondering if an MPH is worth it should know that earning an advanced degree in public health can pay dividends when applied to management roles. According to data from the BLS, individuals can become a medical and health services manager with just a bachelor’s degree. However, the majority of those in the role have a master’s degree.

The job of a medical and health services manager centers on efficiency and administration. Key goals include analyzing and understanding work practices in a care setting, and creating an environment that facilitates quality care and effective financial management. As such, a medical and health services manager will need to assume tasks such as supervising staff, meeting with investors and board members, creating budgets, and organizing records.

A medical and health services manager job is rewarding both in terms of financial prospects and occupational growth. The BLS notes the median annual salary for professionals in this field was $104,280 as of May 2020. Furthermore, job growth is expected to increase by 32% between 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the expected growth across all other job types.

Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians

Working in occupational health and safety can be a great fit for public health professionals. In this setting, public health expertise prepares individuals to analyze occupational health trends and identify measures that can be taken to promote better practices and care.

Professionals in this field perform a variety of day-to-day duties, such as inspecting and evaluating equipment and workplace environments to ensure they’re compliant with safety standards, evaluating training programs on workplace health and safety, educating staff about safety procedures, and investigating accidents and incidents, among others. Consequently, applicants who have strong communication skills and a refined attention to detail are likely to be most successful.

According to the BLS, occupational health and safety specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety or in a related scientific or technical field, although some positions require a master’s degree, such as an MPH. While professional certification is not required, most employers encourage it. Professional certifications are available through the Board of Certified Safety Professionals and the American Board of Industrial Hygiene.

Data from the BLS shows that occupational health and safety specialists and technicians earned a median annual salary of $76,340, as of May 2020. Employment in this field is projected to grow by 4% between 2019 and 2029, which is about as fast as the average for all other occupations.

What Is the Median MPH salary?

Earning an MPH degree not only provides graduates with enhanced career opportunities, including positions such as biostatician, public health director, clinical research coordinator and beyond, it can also lead to improved earning potential.

According to the compensation website PayScale, the median annual salary for graduates who hold a bachelor’s degree in public health was around $58,000, however, the median MPH salary varies based on a variety of factors. These factors include the specific position that graduates choose; whether they work for a public, private, government, or non-profit institution; the geographic region in which the position is located; and an applicant’s experience level. As of August 2021, PayScale found the median annual salary for MPH degree holders, across occupations and experience levels, was recorded at $66,000.

How Can You Get the Most Value from an MPH Program?

There are many opportunities in public health, which makes an MPH degree a valuable option. An online MPH program can be especially beneficial for those who are already working in the health care field. The Regis College online Master of Public Health program creates value by:

  • Providing flexible scheduling, so you don’t have to make as many personal or professional sacrifices to fit your education into the rest of your life. You can expect to put approximately 20 hours of work into the program each week, but you can set your own schedule.
  • Offering three different start times and no GRE requirement, so you can start the program when it makes the most sense for you.
  • Providing two concentrations –– Epidemiology and Health Policy and Management –– that help you gain the specialized knowledge to work in specific public health fields.
  • Adding a field placement component, that provides an opportunity to gain practical training and build your professional network in the field.

The value you can gain from an MPH depends on your individual goals. However, the raw data reveals an industry that is growing, jobs that pay well, and learning options that are flexible.

Learn more about how Regis College can help you explore the full potential of an online MPH degree.

 

Recommended Readings:

What Can You Do with an MPH Degree Compared to an MHA Degree?

A Picture of Children’s Health in America

Public Health Career Outlook 

 

Sources:

PayScale, Bachelor of Science (BS / BSc), Public Health (PH) Degree

PayScale, Master of Public Health (MPH) Degree

Regis College, FAQs About the Online Master of Public Health

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Epidemiologists

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical and Health Services Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Health and Safety Specialists