Masters in Public Health Jobs & Careers
The career opportunities for a MPH graduate can be dictated to some degree by the field of specialization selected for completion of the academic program. These options may include epidemiology, public health policy, health education, emergency management, and other focused fields of endeavor. But the Master of Public Health is also a degree that can provide career opportunities without specialization due to the comprehensive nature of the curricula found in quality MPH programs. There are public health policy positions available at the local, state, and federal government level. With state and federal organizations there are several agencies which may offer public health positions; at the county or municipal level the job opportunities are principally confined to a department of public health or a related social services agency.
- Public Health Informatics: As with any public service environment, public health policy is increasingly driven by the mountains of data assembled from various sources. Agencies providing point-of-contact services to the public for healthcare and social welfare generate information as do ongoing research efforts made by policy analysts at the state and federal level. Health care informatics professionals put this data into coherent form and develop reports that assist in managing public health services.
- Health Promotions Manager: There are several large non-profits that mount educational campaigns on an annual basis and hire professionals to direct them. This work requires public health expertise combined with a certain amount of marketing experience or at least, promotional instincts. The American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, and many divisions of the National Institutes of Health engage in educational programs; these organizations are merely examples.
- Health Educator: A MPH graduate working in this field may find a wide range of platforms from which health education is provided to the public, to other professionals, and to policy makers. Health education is a large and important component of any public health service program that has daily contact with people in need of healthcare and without other resources. Education on nutrition, sanitation, infectious diseases and general family daily routines is important for people who may not understand the cause of recurring health difficulties.
- Behavioral Health Coordinator: Behavioral health services are generally the purview of psychologists, licensed counselors, or licensed social workers. However the management of behavioral health services is an important function that requires very different skills than the actual delivery of services. An MPH graduate working in a public health clinic may find an administrative job related to family services that has a strong behavioral health component because so many family health problems surface as the result of internal dysfunction.
- Gerontology: There are a number of public health career specializations that are emerging as our population of elderly grows. Public health professionals may be called upon to develop home health programs as a public health service; they may also be involved in licensing activities for local facilities dedicated to elder care. Public health concerns are as important as medical issues in developing management policy for treatment of community senior citizens who need assistance in daily living functions.
- Epidemiologist: This can be a research job or it can be a position in a large public health agency that relies on data to develop treatment plans for infectious disease. There are many MPH programs that offer specialization in epidemiology for careers that require some science training but also incorporate the tenets associated with delivery of public health services such as education and inoculation.
- Program Analyst: Public health agencies in large metro areas often contract services to outside organizations, often non-profit groups established to provide social services. Services might include AIDS treatment, drug and alcohol abuse, maternal and infant health, adult mental health, and children's mental health. A program analyst is responsible for monitoring the quality of services and the effectiveness of outreach efforts and often, in annual budget scrutiny as well
- Research Director: An enormous part of public health policy development is the research that defines the changes in public health needs. Public health research includes the accumulation of data that is already available from service agencies and use of that information along with internally generated research to develop reports for informed decisions on public health services and allocation of resources.
- Emergency Response Coordinator: Emergency response to a public health crisis may involve natural disasters such as a flood or an earthquake, or a man-made public health threat such as toxic gas emissions, industrial explosions or a terrorist attack. The medical and security functions associated with emergency response are separate functions from the public health concerns, which have to do with protection of the overall population. MPH graduates who specialize in this field might work as part of an emergency response management team.
- Project Manager: A public health project manager might lead the effort to launch and execute an education campaign for HIV/AIDS protection, for the annual flu protection program, for a nutritional improvement campaign in public schools, or a regional effort to implement senior citizen services. Getting a public health project or service underway is a different function than administering an existing program, requiring different skills. A public health project may require epidemiological skills as well as promotional abilities and usually will require some degree of budget management acumen.