A Master’s in Public Health is the type of degree that is likely to propel your career to the next level. However, it is important to note that obtaining the degree is expensive, in terms of the cost of tuition and materials, in terms of time spent studying, and in terms of lost earnings because you will find it difficult to work full time while studying. So how do you get the best master’s in public health salary?
Is It Really Worth It?
On average, it takes around 18 months of full time study to complete a master’s degree in public health. Tuition will vary depending on the college or university, but the cost of a full degree is classed as competitive at around $41,050.24 for in state students, and $53,914.08 for out of state students, which is quite a significant investment. That being said, what matters most with a degree like this is whether you can see a return on investment. Take the following statistics into consideration, provided by the Association fo Schools & Programs of Public Health (ASPPH), therefore:
- By 2020, there will be a need for an additional 250,000 people in the field of public health.
- The overall public health workforce is diminishing rapidly, particularly due to retirement.
- Three times more public health officials need to be trained by universities across the country to meet demand. This is translating into interesting incentives for those considering the degree.
Most people who get into public health, however, don’t just do it for the money. They do it because the career offers a huge amount of incentives, including the fact that:
- This field is booming because public health challenges are becoming increasingly complex.
- The work is both diverse and dynamic, with the workforce being made up of people from a range of different backgrounds.
- You will be able to serve others, including your local community, ensuring that their health is improved.
How to Get the Best Salary with a Master’s Degree in Public Health
So how do you get the best possible salary as a graduate of a master’s in public health degree? The following pointers may be of assistance:
- Find out which careers are available for degree holders and align your elective courses to that career, which attracts you the most.
- Choose a school that is highly respected in the country, looking at rankings in the U.S. News & World Report, for instance.
- Make sure that your program is properly accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health and listed with the Association fo Schools & Programs of Public Health.
- Understand that there are tremendous differences in salary depending on where in the country you work, and what type of organization you work for.
- Make sure that you maintain an excellent GPA throughout the course of your degree.
- Complete internships, externships, and other forms of work experience while studying.
- Build networks of professional connections while pursuing your degree, with fellow students, faculty, alumni, and organizations that provide practical experiences.
Once you have completed your degree, and you have found yourself a job, you will need to focus on increasing your salary as much as possible. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), all health educators and community health workers had average annual earnings of $43,840 per year. However, this includes those who hold no degree at all and degree holders (associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate’s) alike and is therefore not a representation of what you can earn at the master’s degree level. On average, it has been observed that earning a master’s degree increases your salary by $17,000 per year compared to bachelor’s degree holders. The top 10% of earners, according to the BLS, which is what master’s degree holders are most likely to be in, can enjoy average earnings of $62,880 per year or more. This is a significant increase in salary, therefore, and means that you could potentially see a return on investment into your degree after just two years of working.
The first pointer listed above is to look at the positions that are available. So what are the different jobs you could take on with a master’s in public health, and what can you expect to earn?
- Health services administrator – $106,070
- Biostatistician – $74,289
- Epidemiologist – $112,360
- Health educator – $92,950
- Environmental health scientist – $100,000
- Medical and health service manager – $84,000
- Public health management analyst – $60,000
- Health communications specialist – $52,809
- Research scientist – $76,278
- Public health physician – $149,843
The public health physician position is perhaps the most interesting of all if it were based solely on salary. However, in order to take on this position, you must also obtain a medical license. This requires a far more significant investment of both time and money. The other positions, however, can be taken on solely with a Master’s in Public Health. In fact, many entry-level positions only require a bachelor’s degree level, after which employers may be tempted to pay for a master’s degree, at least in part. It is important, therefore, to discuss your options with your employer, as this could help you significantly reduce how much you will personally be out of pocket.
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- Occupational Outlook Handbook – Healthcare Occupations. (2015, Dec. 17) Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home.htm
- Master of Public Health (MPH) Degree Average Salary. (2017, Mar. 19) Retrieved from http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Degree=Master_of_Public_Health_(MPH)/Salary
- Preparing tomorrow’s public health leaders by advancing education, research, practice, and advocacy. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.aspph.org/
- AAPHP Member Programs. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.aaphps.org/aaphp-member-programs.html
- Accredited Schools & Programs. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ceph.org/accredited/
- Occupational Outlook Handbook – Health Educators and Community Health Workers. (2015, Dec. 17) Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/health-educators.htm