Public health is a rewarding career that offers stability, growth, and countless opportunities to make a difference in others' lives. The work that public health professionals do to educate populations, promote health and wellness, and inform policy is an essential aspect of the healthcare system that has a tremendous, and often immediate, impact on the communities that they serve.
For many professionals pursuing a career in public health, a major factor underlying this decision is a passion for helping those in need.
“For me, the most rewarding part is actually having a direct impact in the community,” says Dr. Richard Pulice, professor for Regis College’s public health programs. “The work of public health has a direct and often immediate impact. Say you’re involved in a disease outbreak or a water project—you get to see the results of these things fairly quickly and that's often rewarding.”
For those hoping to break into the field or take the next step in their public health career, pursuing a bachelor’s degree is one way to develop the skills and experience needed to unlock opportunities for career growth.
If you are considering earning a bachelor’s degree in public health, one of the biggest questions you’re likely asking yourself is: What can I actually do with this degree?
According to Dr. Leslie Mandel, associate professor and director of Regis College’s public health program, “You’re not limited with public health.”
Here’s a look at the top careers available to public health professionals with a bachelor’s degree, as well as average salaries and career outlook for the field.
Students who complete their bachelor’s degree in public health have a wide variety of career options available across different settings. According to our analysis of job postings data, the top industries hiring public health degree holders include:
It’s important to note that the job opportunities available to public health professionals often depend on geographic location. If you’re interested in working somewhere there’s abundant opportunities for public health professionals, here are the top U.S. cities hiring graduates of bachelor’s-level public health programs, according to our analysis of job postings data:
However, each location might have different job opportunities depending on demand and the communities’ needs. For example, some of the top public health careers in the Merrimack Valley include health educators, community health coordinators, and public health advisors.
According to our analysis of job postings, a bachelor’s in public health provides the fundamentals for the following positions, despite the fact that many require additional qualifications:
Many of these positions require additional education, such as a master’s in public health (MPH) or a nursing degree like an ASN or BSN. If you’re hoping for a position that just requires a bachelor’s in public health, however, here are some of the most popular job titles for bachelor’s degree holders in public health.
Community health workers serve as intermediaries between the community and health/social services. They perform a variety of functions such as:
Since community health workers support others through advocacy and occasional informal counseling, this role requires strong empathy and communication skills. This position typically requires at least a high school diploma or associate's degree.
Environmental sanitarians work to improve health and safety within an environment by:
They typically work in settings like businesses, hospitals, restaurants, and the general environment.
Health educators work to educate community members about healthy behaviors and healthcare access in an effort to improve overall health outcomes. Health educators work in healthcare facilities, schools and colleges, non-profit organizations, and other settings.
Public health investigators observe the severity of illnesses caused by chronic and acute conditions. They do so by:
Their work often involves interviewing patients and gathering data to evaluate the spread of disease within the community, especially during outbreaks.
Similar to environmental sanitarians, environmental specialists seek to understand the unique ways in which the environment impacts human health. They leverage this understanding to improve the health of the community by working to address environmental concerns such as waste management and pollution.
Public health researchers conduct research surrounding various public health trends, risk factors, solutions, and so on. This research is often used by other public health professionals and healthcare providers, and to inform public health policy.
Public health advisors are responsible for assisting in the development of public health programs to improve overall community health and well-being. This involves:
In addition to developing programs, public health advisors often provide guidance to an organization and those that it serves.
According to our analysis of job postings data, professionals who hold a bachelor’s in public health make a median annual salary of $68,500, and this number is increasing at an annual rate of 27%. However, this can vary depending on position, experience, and even geographic location.
According to our analysis of job postings data, here are the national average salaries for each of the positions listed above:
Keep in mind that your earnings in each of these positions will vary based on your location. However, it’s important to remember that different locations have different costs of living as well. Therefore, it’s not always recommended to apply for a job just for a higher salary. Instead, try to factor in living expenses when job hunting.
If you already have an associate's degree in public health or a related field, completing your bachelor’s degree can allow you to seek more advanced positions with increased earning potential.
Additionally, a bachelor’s degree can act as a stepping stone to a master’s in public health (MPH), which is often required for the most advanced positions in the field.
As a field, public health is growing quickly to meet the healthcare needs of communities and populations throughout the country. In fact, employment of community health workers and health educators—two popular careers in the field—is expected to grow 12 percent from 2021 to 2031—more than twice as fast as the average growth for all occupations.
Major events—like the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic—have also underscored key public health issues and have contributed to the increased demand for skilled public health professionals.
“I think public health will be in the spotlight because I think there will be more funding for public health in the future, which naturally means more jobs,” Mandel says.
Healthcare is continuously evolving and adapting to support the needs of communities. It’s difficult to predict what healthcare challenges the public will face in the future, but there will always be a need for public health professionals.
Public health is a promising and rewarding career choice for many. To help you decide if earning a bachelor’s in public health is right for you, consider your personal and professional goals and evaluate how completing your degree will help you achieve those goals. If you do choose to further your education, it’s also important to find a program that fits your unique needs and will support you in pursuit of those goals.
Regis College, for example, offers flexible programs including a degree completion program which allows students to convert their existing associate's degree into a bachelor’s in public health. Regis’ public health programs are also focused on hands-on learning and real-world experience to give students the skills they need to be successful in the field.
In addition to field experience, industry-aligned faculty—many of whom are active in the field—are able to bring their unique knowledge to the classroom everyday and share the experiences they’ve had throughout their careers with students.
If you are ready to take the next steps in your public health career, consider Regis College’s Bachelor of Arts in Public Health. This program will equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to become a leader in the public health field.