What Can You Do With A Public Health Degree
The field of public health includes a large range of workers from scientists who track epidemics to someone teaching a family how to care for a new baby.
While nurses and doctors are usually called on to treat illnesses or injuries, most public health workers are concerned with how to prevent illnesses or injuries from happening in the first place.
The aptly named whatispublichealth.org summarized the field.
“Overall, public health is concerned with protecting the health of entire populations. These populations can be as small as a local neighborhood, or as big as an entire country,” the website said.
Job Duties for Public Health Workers
Public health workers can be found in jobs that cover such diverse specialties as health education, environmental health, public health practice, child and maternal health and global an international health.
Most work in hospitals with individual and family services the next largest employer, but about 40% work in government, home health and nursing homes, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
A bachelor’s degree in public health is considered the basic degree for the field and can lead to jobs in social services, health education, environmental health and others.
To move higher in the field, a master’s in public health is valuable, according to whatispublichealth.org. Master’s degrees include: Master of Public Health, Master of Health Administration and Master of Health Services Administration.
The Association of Schools of Public Health lists 50 schools with public health programs accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health with another seven working toward accreditation.
Bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees are offered at traditional and online schools.
Public Health Workers Salaries
Salaries for public health workers vary widely depending on job description and where they work. Here is a list of salaries for public health workers, based on numbers provided by the Whatispublichealth.org site: health education, $33,000 to $86,000; public health practice and program management, $41,000 to $102,000; health service administration, $37,000 to $161,000.
Here are a few of the jobs in the field of public health services:
At a rate of 37%, the need for workers in this field is expected to increase nearly three times as fast as the nation’s overall job growth, the BLS said.
Health educators may instruct individuals, families, groups or the public about health issues that can range from a health department campaign about nutrition to telling a patient what to expect during treatment or conducting a class on installing a child’s car seat.
More than half work in healthcare or in government positions, but others work for non-profit groups, in education or social agencies.
A bachelor’s degree in health education is necessary for entry level jobs that can carry a median salary of $45,000 with hospitals and government positions paying more, according to the BLS.
Clinical social workers
One of two divisions of social workers, clinical social workers, also called licensed clinical social workers, diagnose and treat mental and behavioral problems. The may provide group, family or individual therapy, help clients adjust to major changes in their lives or develop treatments along with doctors and other professionals, the BLS said.
Many work in private practice but may specialize in areas such as children and families, general healthcare or substance abuse.
Clinical social workers need a master’s degree in social work that generally requires two years of graduate school, the BLS said.
Direct service social workers
These workers focus on helping people in their daily lives from adjusting to illnesses or divorce, helping clients get aid and community resources to improve their lives or responding to disasters or child abuse, the BLS said.
Like clinical social workers, direct service workers may focus on the same general areas of healthcare such as substance abuse or family services.
A bachelor’s degree in social work is needed for entry level jobs, though a degree in sociology or psychology may also work, the BLS said.
Job growth in both fields is expected to be about 25% through 2020, according to the BLS.
The median pay for social works in healthcare is $47,000, for schools, children and families $40,000, $38,000 for substance abuse and mental health and $51,000 for all others, the BLS said.
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