When it comes to weighing your career options, there are many different factors that you should consider before settling on a particular career path. Personal satisfaction—the feeling you get when you love your job and know that you are making a difference—is one of the most important factors, but it is by no means the only one. Potential salary, job demand, and employment stability are also all extremely important.
Below, we take a closer look at the current career outlook for public health professionals so that you can make a more informed decision as to whether or not this is the right career for you.
One way to think about the career outlook for public health is to ask yourself the question: What can you do with a bachelor’s degree in public health? The answer is that earning a public health degree can prepare you for almost any job pertaining to health systems, services, and community health.
Some of the most common public health job titles include:
It’s important to note that this is by no means an exhaustive list, just the most commonly held titles. The diversity in job titles is one strong indicator that the field of public health is strong and growing. Simply put, if you pursue a career in public health you will have many options.
Salary for public health workers can vary significantly depending on a number of factors, including the specific job title you hold, the geographic location where you are employed, your employer, and how many years of experience you have. That being said, below are some averages that you can reference for the most common public health careers:
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the field of public health is expected to grow at a rate of approximately 17 percent between 2020 and 2030. This is a much faster rate of growth than the eight percent expected for all professions—more than double! Using this figure as a basis, the next ten years are expected to see an additional 21,100 more public health jobs be created compared to past years.
But those numbers don’t even come close to capturing the true demand for public health workers. According to one recent study, in 2020 the US needed an additional 250,000 public health workers (at the local, state, and federal levels) in order to truly provide the level of services that are currently needed.
This growth in demand has a number of causes. First, most states indicate that they already have a shortage of well-trained public health workers. Second, as the US population continues to age and live longer, the level of public health services they are expected to need will only continue to increase. These factors, paired with the fact that an estimated 38 percent of existing public health workers plan to retire in the next five years, is creating an industry that is being pinched from both ends.
The good news for those considering a career in public health is that all of these numbers indicate that the field of public health will see significant growth in coming years. Increased demand, a smaller pool of qualified workers, and a renewed focus on the field due to the COVID-19 pandemic all point to an industry on the cusp of revitalization. COVID also revealed a lot of gaps in local and state public health. As a result, there is a lot more investment in public health initiatives.
The key unknown, at the moment, lies in how much state, local, and federal governments are willing to invest in filling this gap.