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Public Health Degree: Public Health and Safety, Master Degree in Public Health, Public Health School, Degree Online, Careers

A public health degree offers flexible options for careers in public health and safety, and registered nurses constitute the largest health care occupation in the field. Careers in public health and safety can range from research, serving local and international communities, and protecting public health and safety overall. Skills developed through public health school programs allow graduates to improve the lives of others.

Job Description and Responsibilities with a Public Health Degree

A public health degree allows graduates to pursue a variety of employment options and opportunities. The focus with a degree in public health and safety is on influencing social and legislative policies within the field. General responsibilities for those who earn a public health degree include:

  • Developing collaborative strategies for solving health-related problems
  • Enhancing communication skills to work in third world countries and undereducated regions of the world
  • Influencing local, national, and global practices in public health and safety
  • Developing multidisciplinary strategies to solve health-related problems
  • Applying research and analysis skills required for problem solving
  • Tackling global, national, and local public health and safety issues

Skills Needed for a Successful Career in Public Health and Safety

Careers in public health require flexibility and ongoing education. Although an advanced degree is not required, many graduates do pursue a master degree in public health. Skills needed for a successful career in public health and safety include:

  • Strong communication skills
  • Ability to work in both the public and private sector
  • A high level of patience
  • Strong mathematic and research skills
  • Strong problem-solving ability
  • Effective stress management
  • Ability to travel

Career Options with a Public Health Degree

A public health degree can lead to a variety of specialties in public health and safety, with the most common found in:

  • Health services administration

  • Epidemiology

  • Nursing

  • Nutrition

  • Biostatistics

  • Health Education

  • Behavioral Science

  • Environmental Health

  • International Health and Policymaking

  • Biomedical Laboratory

  • Public Health Practice

In each of these fields, the options for a long-term career in public health and safety can be further specialized. The most common job positions after completing training at public health school include:

  • Environment Health Intelligence Analyst
  • Health Communications Specialist
  • Director of Programs and Services in Healthcare
  • Public Health Management Analyst
  • Manager for various program Initiatives
  • Research Scientist

Pursuing a Master Degree in Public Health

Most professionals who complete a preliminary public health degree move towards an advanced degree program. Public health school can prepare students with the necessary foundation to succeed in this field. Although a master degree in public health is not required, it does offer additional option for advancement in the field. A master degree in public health offers graduates a chance to join research teams, work with international firms, or even open their own consulting business. As a result, many students choose to pursue a master of public health degree online program.

Obtaining a Master of Public Health Degree Online

Obtaining a master of public health degree online offers a flexible opportunity for those interested in completing their education on their own schedule. Many accredited schools and colleges offer an online master of public health degree program that includes lab tests, examinations, and research completed over the internet. Students can collaborate on projects with other students, and communicate with professors and instructors with ease.

Public Health Degree Requirements and Training

Completing an undergraduate public health degree program is the first step in obtaining a public health degree, but coursework and studies taken in high school can prepare students before they enter the program. Coursework in biology, mathematics, and social science is recommended for most careers in this field, and health services administration students may also find benefits from having a business background. Chemistry and physics are essential for most research studies. Public health school requires an educational background focused on mathematics and the sciences.

Common courses of study for students in public health degree programs include knowledge of:

  • Biological, physical, and chemical factors that affect communities around the globe
  • Distribution of diseases or conditions in various populations
  • Methodology and research technique to understand the influence of disease distribution
  • Planning and program analysis tools
  • Administration of health programs
  • Collection and analysis of health data
  • Understanding social and behavioral sciences

A variety of public health degree programs are available for students interested in pursuing careers in public health and safety. Programs available at a public health school may include:

  • MPH: Master of Public Health
  • MHA: Master of Health Administration
  • MHSA: Master of Health Services Administration
  • MSPH: Master of Science in Public Health
  • DrPH: Doctor of Public Health
  • PhD: Doctor of Philosophy

The main difference between each of these degree programs is the professional or academic component. Professional degrees in public health and safety allow graduates to pursue teaching positions and lead roles in research. They may choose a public health and safety career in managed care organizations, hospitals, consulting firms, or international agencies. Academic degrees are specialized in research and development instead of a public health practice. As a result, a dual degree in public health offers another opportunity. Students may be eligible for an accelerated MPH program to complete this course of study.

Employment Prospects for Careers in Public Health

Job opportunities for those who pursue careers in public health look promising. Registered nurses and healthcare practitioners make up the largest segment of industries in public health, but there are many opportunities for advancement and growth in other fields with innovations in healthcare and technology. With the emphasis on preventative care and management, more communities and organizations around the world are in need of public health care professionals.. From maintaining records to conducting research for advances in health for the future, job opportunities are expected to grow faster than average for all occupations through 2014.

Median annual earnings for registered nurses were $52,330 in 2004, while the range of salaries varies widely for other public health and safety careers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics published the following salary ranges for each field:

  • Health Services Administration: $37,050 - $161,400

  • Epidemiology: $38,175 - $136,237

  • Biostatistics: $33,000 - $63,000

  • Environmental Health: $44,550 - $143,700

  • Nutrition: $31,500 - $70,785

  •  Health Education: $33,000 - $86,625

  • Biomedical Laboratory: $31,500 - $78,750

  • Public Health Practice: $41,175 - $102,000


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