Patients can now consult with doctors and refill medications without ever leaving the house. They can monitor their health through a sleek, fashion-forward watch, access their medical records, and more easily share pertinent information with those they trust. They can download mobile apps that help monitor their food intake and track their blood pressure. People, now more than ever, can take control of their own health.
It’s become clear: The only constant in public health is change. Because of that, the field needs new leaders with a population health perspective who understand the realities facing today’s patients, practitioners, and policy makers, and can apply emerging technologies to solve health disparities facing communities locally and abroad.
If you’re interested in becoming one of those leaders, earning a master’s in public health could be the next best step in your career.
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What Is a Master of Public Health?
A Master of Public Health (MPH) is a professional, non-thesis graduate degree designed to train students to effectively protect and improve the health of populations worldwide.
“The MPH is a skills-based degree that has wide applicability across a number of disciplines and professions,” says Alison Gillis, program manager for Northeastern University’s Master of Public Health. “If you have an MPH, it shows your commitment to helping people live healthier lives.”
Public health extends far beyond the traditional view of healthcare. Practitioners in the field strive to improve the economic, social, and environmental health of communities, as well, by focusing on a broad range of issues, including:
- Educating populations about the dangers of opioid, tobacco, and alcohol use
- Detecting, preventing, and controlling disease outbreaks
- Improving sanitation
- Providing underserved populations with access to nutritional foods
- Reducing gun violence
- Promoting reproductive and sexual health
- Developing safe housing to eliminate risks that come from poor ventilation, pest infestation, lead poisoning, and water leaks
- Establishing better transportation systems
- Decreasing the prevalence of childhood obesity
- Combatting climate change
By earning an MPH, you’ll learn more about the issues impacting communities worldwide and how you can tackle those challenges through educational programming, new public health policies and services, research, or community partnerships.
Dr. Neil Maniar, director of Northeastern’s MPH program, has experienced firsthand the breadth of the public health field. Over his more than 20-year career, he’s created a youth violence prevention program, established partnerships and strategies to address disparities in infant mortality, and focused on improving outcomes related to cancer prevention and intervention.
“The skills and knowledge base I was using in one position, I was able to transfer to another,” Maniar says. “That gives you a powerful way to think about problems and solutions to those problems.”
Common Career Paths for Master of Public Health Graduates
If you’re interested in establishing your own public health career, there are a variety of paths you can pursue. The field intersects with business, law, pharmaceuticals, technology, and science— enabling you to combine your passions to find the right fit.
Northeastern’s MPH graduates have gone on to work at federal, state, and local health agencies, hospitals, nonprofits, community-based agencies, private foundations, and health maintenance organizations. Want to know where an MPH could take you? Here are seven positions popular among Master of Public Health graduates.
1) Healthcare Administrators
Average Annual Salary: $98,350
Estimated Job Growth by 2026: 20%
Healthcare administrators oversee the daily operations of a hospital, research lab, physician practice, or other healthcare facilities. They develop organizational goals, manage the facility’s budget and finances, and work to ensure patients are receiving quality, efficient care.
2) Registered Nurses
Average Annual Salary: $70,000
Estimated Job Growth by 2026: 15%
Registered nurses (RNs) assess individuals’ health, provide patient care, record symptoms, analyze test results, and administer medicines and treatments. They also offer emotional support to patients and their loved ones, as well as consult with doctors and prepare patients to live at home once their treatment concludes.
Average Annual Salary: $69,660
Estimated Job Growth by 2026: 9%
Epidemiologists study the patterns of disease and aim to improve public health outcomes by publishing research, establishing community education programs, or developing new health policies. They collect, analyze, and communicate data to health practitioners, policymakers, and the public, and work to prevent future outbreaks.
4) Social and Community Service Managers
Average Annual Salary: $64,100
Estimated Job Growth by 2026: 18%
These managers supervise social service programs and community outreach organizations, such as substance abuse clinics, homeless shelters, and mental health facilities. They often oversee budgets, write grant and funding proposals, recruit and train volunteers, and plan initiatives to increase awareness and support of their programs.
5) Dieticians and Nutritionists
Average Annual Salary: $59,410
Estimated Job Growth by 2026: 15%
Dieticians assess patients’ nutritional needs and counsel clients on healthy eating habits. They create personalized meal plans for patients and collaborate with other healthcare professionals to coordinate and improve patient care. They might also establish educational workshops or manage food programs in hospitals, schools, and long-term care facilities.
6) Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
Average Annual Salary: $43,300
Estimated Job Growth by 2026: 23%
These counselors advise patients who suffer from alcoholism, mental health issues, drug addiction, eating disorders, or other behavioral problems. They evaluate patients’ health, recommend treatment programs, and refer clients to other services, such as job placement organizations and support groups.
7) Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
Average Annual Salary: $39,180
Estimated Job Growth by 2026: 13%
Health information technicians organize, analyze, and report health information data. They review patient records to ensure all data is accurate and secure, track patient outcomes, and often code and categorize data for insurance reimbursement purposes.
Taking the Next Step
If you’re interested in public health, now is an opportune time to earn your MPH. As the field continues to evolve, there’s a growing need for public health practitioners with the skills and know-how necessary to solve the complex problems facing communities worldwide.
“I really don’t think there has ever been a more exciting, more challenging, or more important time for individuals to enter the public health field,” Maniar says. “This is the opportunity to save many, many lives all at once.”
If you’re interested in earning your Master of Public Health, visit Northeastern’s program page to learn more about how an MPH can advance your career.