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What Can You Do With a Public Health Degree?

Student speaker at Dornsife commencement 2019

The Dornsife School of Public Health offers a variety of on-campus and online degrees and certificates that can lead to different public health-related career options or continued education opportunities.

Public Health Jobs: 9 Potential Career Paths

There are many paths to a fulfilling career in public health after obtaining a certificate or degree, and Dornsife's location in Philadelphia offers job opportunities for public health graduates in Pennsylvania and beyond.

Public health practitioners come from a variety of diverse backgrounds. Many find their way to their career through a combination of inspiring classes, encouraging mentors, community volunteering, and meaningful work. Some transition into public health from other careers.

“By enrolling in an MPH program, doors open to you. You get the skills to make a difference once you step through those doors. You’ll get a broad base of understanding in the field, and the flexibility to carve out your own identity," Dornsife's Associate Dean of Education Gina Lovasi, PhD, MPH, tells Fortune Education in What You'll Learn in a Master's of Public Health Program.

If you’re currently wondering, “What jobs can I get with a public health degree?," below are a few areas that present opportunities and may be of interest. See ASPPH’s areas of study for a complete list, and see STEM designated programs for a list of possible STEM careers in public health. 

1) Community Health

Community health workers have expertise navigating medical, public health, and other related systems (e.g., housing, employment, benefits programs). Community health specialists typically require at least a bachelor’s degree such as Dornsife's BS in Public Health.

2) Data Science and Statistics

Data scientists and biostatisticians use their computational and statistical training to analyze and interpret data to solve real-world public health problems. The career path start off with a BS in Health Data Analytics and expand career opportunities with an MS in Biostatistics or MS in Epidemiology.

3) Environmental Health

Environmental scientists identify and answer important questions about how the physical environment and the workplace influences human health. Researchers study topics such as air pollution, drinking water and sanitation, occupational health and safety, climate change and infectious diseases. Entry-level environmental health specialists need at least a bachelor's degree, with additional paths for those with an MPH in Environmental and Occupational Health or MS in Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences.

4) Epidemiology

Epidemiologists study trends and patterns of disease transmission and outcomes, including which characteristics put individuals, populations, and communities at higher and lower risk. Both infectious disease epidemiology and social epidemiology are relevant and important workforce needs. An MS or MPH degree is typically required for epidemiology positions, while an PhD in Epidemiology provides additional advancement and research opportunities.

5) Global Health

Global health and international development are growing areas in which practitioners work on issues that affect the world’s population. Examples of issues include communicable disease, malnutrition, water and sanitation, chronic disease, injuries, environmental health challenges, and reproductive health, and maternal and child health.

The focus is often on designing, implementing, and evaluating programs in underserved communities in the United States and abroad and on proposing and applying ethical, sustainable approaches.

Entry-level global health specialists typically need at least a bachelor’s degree such as a BA in Global Public Health, with broader research, policy, and program management opportunities with a graduate degree such as an MPH in Global Health or MS in Global Health.

6) Health Administration

Individuals in health administration have the training and expertise to supervise health workers and coordinate support for vulnerable populations and communities. Most health administrators have an advanced degree such as a Master's in Public Health (MPH).

7) Occupational Health

The field of occupational health science studies workplace issues and hazards, which includes working conditions, injury prevention, industrial hygiene, environmental exposures, and health and safety.

Occupational health addresses strategies for preventing, controlling, and managing risks in order to protect the health of workers. Occupational health careers typically require a bachelor's degree at a minimum, and an MPH in Environmental and Occupational Health or MS in Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences open up other career options.

8) Population Health or Urban Health

Population health and urban health scientists analyze factors that influence the health of populations. They think critically about how to develop effective and sustainable solutions. One example would be developing solutions to improve access to COVID testing, vaccines, and treatment for vulnerable populations. Population health scientists typically need a master's degree such an MS in Population Health Sciences or MPH in Urban Health.

9) Public Health Education

Public health educators partner with communities to assess health problems, propose solutions to issues, and support the health of communities locally, nationally, and globally. An MPH is often required for public health education positions.

Potential Salary Ranges with a Degree in Public Health

While salary can range across industries and vary based on education level and experience, here is the median annual wage for certain undergraduate and Masters in Public Health careers within in the field of public health:

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021 data

Job Title  Career Median Salary 
Community Health Worker $46,590
Epidemiologist $78,830
Environmental Scientists and Specialists $76,530
Health Education Specialist $60,600
Medical / Health Service Manager $101,340
Occupational Health and Safety Specialist $77,560
Research Analyst $82,360
Social and Community Service Manager $74,000

Employers of Those With an Undergraduate, MPH, MS, and/or Doctorate Degree in Public Health

Those with a public health degree may find a job with various kinds of employers, including:

  • Health systems
  • Hospitals
  • Nonprofits and foundations
  • Community organizations
  • Health centers
  • Universities
  • Private sectors like biotechnology and pharmaceuticals

To learn more about what Dornsife alumni are doing with their public health degree, read a Q&A with 25 outstanding DSPH alums from the anniversary issue of our magazine.

Why Pursue a Public Health Degree?

A career in public health offers the ability to have a direct impact on community health and improve people’s livelihoods.

Amy Carroll-Scott, PhD, MPH, associate professor and chair of the Department of Community Health and Prevention, explains why a public health career is collaborative, dynamic, and meaningful:

“Public health is the field – both in research and in practice – that works across disciplines in a truly collaborative way.

People can't be healthy if they don't have stable housing or enough nutritious food to eat, and so the solutions require collaboration, curiosity, and creativity.

And your colleagues will be passionate.”

Pursuing Your Public Health Degree with Drexel Dornsife

Dornsife is at the forefront of research that addresses many public health challenges we face today here in the City of Philadelphia and also all over the world.

Viewbooks to learn more about Dornsife's public health programs
Explore our public health program viewbooks to learn more about undergrad, master's and doctoral programs at Drexel.

Whatever your chosen plan of study or career path, Dornsife will provide you with the knowledge, skills, and experience to lead public health into the future so you can truly make a difference.

If you are interested in learning more about Drexel Dornsife’s public health degree programs, or to learn what jobs you can get with a public health degree, request more information to speak with a member of our admissions team.

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Collage of alumni

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