The public health field has become tremendously popular as a career choice for millions of Americans. This is because there is a greater focus on preventative care among vulnerable populations, which in turn reduces healthcare costs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that healthcare employment generally is expected to grow by 19% by 2024, which is much faster than average. More than 2.3 million new jobs will be added, and many of these will be in public health as well.
For example, the field of health educators and community health workers – both key public health job areas – is projected to grow by 13% by 2024. Statisticians and biostatisticians will enjoy a 34% increase in job demand.
Given the increase in jobs and higher pay, public health is an excellent career field to enter today. It also is easier than ever before to obtain a degree in this field, as there are hundreds of online public health degree programs available. The ones that are in the highest demand are the following:
#1 Master of Public Health in Epidemiology
Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of health related problems in certain populations, and then applying this study to control those health problems. Epidemiology focuses on how risk factors are distributed, including obesity, cancer, heart disease, dementia, injury and mortality.
One of the top online Master of Public Health (MPH) in epidemiology programs is at the University of South Florida. This program allows students to complete their MPH in epidemiology in two or two and a half years. All classes are available online and many of them are asynchronous, meaning that you can take the classes on your own schedule.
- History and Systems of Public Health
- Biostatistics I
- Principles of Health Policy and Management
- Environmental and Occupational Health
- Social and Behavioral Sciences Applied to Health
- Computer Applications for Public Health Researchers
- Categorical Data Analysis
Some of the areas you may work with a master’s degree in epidemiology include:
- Conducting research to discover risk factors for diseases
- Participate in the design and analysis of clinical studies
- Working for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the National Institute of Health
- Work in a local or state public health department
- Work in research in medical and health organizations
This program has been accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health or CEPH. It is the premier accreditation agency for public health programs in the US.
#2 Master of Science in Biostatistics
Biostatistics is the area of statistics that is responsible for interpreting scientific data that is generated in public health, biology and other health sciences. Patients, subjects and members of the community in question will show variation in how they respond to stimuli and environmental factors.
The variations can be because of different treatments or could be due to error in measurement, chance, or characteristics of the individual. Biostatistics attempts to discover what these various sources of variation are, and tries to make a distinction between correlation and causation. Then, the biostatistician makes inferences from the population samples.
Drexel University online offers a Master of Science in Biostatistics that will prepare you to make quick contributions to public health and biomedical research. This is the only biostatistics master’s program in the state of Pennsylvania that is within a school of public health. This two year program has internationally recognized faculty teaching its classes, and there is a practicum research experience that is based in a public health setting.
This biostatistics program has courses in:
- Statistical theory and methods
- Computing and data management
- Epidemiology and general public health
You will take 33 quarter hours of biostatistics, seven quarter hours of epidemiology, nine hours of data analysis, and six credit hours of electives in public health.
In the second year, there is a practicum experience in the field that is a semester in length. You will work in an academic, government or industry project in your area.
The Drexel MS program also is accredited by CEPH.
#3 Master of Science in Public Health Nursing
A public health nurse is focused more on the community as a whole and tries to improve the overall health of a certain area. Public health nurses often work in county and state health departments, public health departments, correctional facilities, occupational health centers, and schools.
Some of their most important nursing duties are to assemble plans to alleviate or eliminate health and safety issues in a community, such as immunization programs, sexually transmitted diseases and obesity. Public health nurses also often help communities to prepare for natural disasters, and they help in disaster relief.
Classes that you will take include:
- Theoretical Foundations for Nursing Roles and Practice
- Health Care Research Analysis and Utilization
- Ethics, Policy and Finance in the Health Care System
- Environmental Health
- Public Health Administration
- Public Health Practicum
This nursing program has been accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or CCNE. This is the top accreditation agency for nursing programs.
You will need to be an active RN to participate in this online program, which generally means that you already hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
#4 Master of Public Health in Environmental Health
If you are interested in preserving public health and the environment simultaneously, consider an MPH degree in environmental health. As an environmental scientist, you will use your knowledge of public health and the natural sciences to protect both the planet and the public health.
You may work on cleaning up polluted communities, advise legislators on needed policies to protect human health and the environment, and work with industry to reduce pollution.
Many environmental health experts and scientists work with the federal, state and local governments in public health and environmental departments to ensure that water and air are safe.
For those interested in this type of public health and environmental career, consider the online MPH degree in environmental health from Old Dominion University Online. This two year, online program is accredited by the CEPH, so you know that it is a high-quality program that will be highly regarded by future employers.
Your curriculum includes:
- Introduction to Public Health
- Social and Behavioral Sciences for Public Health
- Statistical Reasoning for Public Health
- Public Health Administration and Management
- Principles of Environmental Health Science
- Principles of Epidemiology
- Introduction to Research Methods
- Environmental Health Law and Policy
- Global Health
- Environmental Risk Assessment
Overall, the field of public health is seeing massive growth, and you will enjoy a rich, rewarding career with high job demand and salaries.