With advancements in science and tech, human life expectancy has increased but so have novel infectious diseases. Public health specialists play a key role in combating these diseases.
The COVID-19 pandemic showed failings of the current public health system while simultaneously demonstrating the importance of qualified public health specialists in healthcare. It urged governments around the world to invest more in their public health sector to be able to better manage any such calamities in the future.
This led to a massive shift in how the public health sector and academia are perceived. With growing interest in the field and higher demand for healthcare professionals, job prospects also increased.
Many students pursuing healthcare and medical-related bachelor’s degrees are now more interested in exploring the public health sector—both for higher studies and career prospects. While a master’s in public health can open a lot of career pathways for you—epidemiologist, public health analyst, clinical research coordinator, health services administrator, public health nurse, and much more, this degree may not be everyone.
Naturally, like any other field, pursuing a master’s in public health has its pros and cons. Let’s look at a few.
Advantages of an MPH Degree
If you have completed your bachelor’s degree, an MPH will add to your skill and qualifications. Combining an MPH with your previous experience can open up a lot of job opportunities for you. Many MPH degree programs have both full-time and part-time study options. You can opt for one according to your convenience. Depending on the mode of study you choose, you can complete the degree in 1-2 years.
If you have a busy schedule, online degree programs are available. Many MPH online degrees being offered by various universities and colleges across the country offer flexible learning—allowing you to balance work, study and other priorities effectively.
It goes without saying that with a master’s in public health, your work can have a far-reaching impact. You can apply your skills and knowledge from an MPH degree to participate in anything from addressing health issues in your local communities to influencing national and global healthcare policies. You can also serve underprivileged communities and prevent the spread of diseases by educating and empowering them with the proper knowledge.
An MPH degree is also mandatory for senior-level jobs in several global organizations. Suppose you want to make a difference and be a stronger voice in the field. In that case, specialization in areas like epidemiology can open up opportunities and put you on a global map. This work also includes extensive travel, which can allow you to connect with and positively impact people’s lives wherever you go. In short, your work will be enriching lives globally.
The addition of an MPH on your resume can make you more marketable. You will have an edge over your peers in the job market. This degree qualifies you for senior-level jobs that have a high pay scale as well.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, public health jobs are expected to grow in the coming years. Some specializations of public health, like epidemiology-related jobs, are estimated to grow 30% by 2030. At the same time, a 17% increase is estimated for health education specialists and community health workers by 2030. This means that there won’t be a shortage of jobs in public health-related careers.
Public health professionals can also pursue government jobs with an MPH and enjoy the perks that come with the position.
Cons of an MPH Degree
Competitive Job Market
The job market for public health careers is tough. Especially entry-level jobs are highly competitive. Applying for entry-level jobs after your MPH degree can be emotionally draining as well. Entry-level jobs can have you competing with a Ph.D. in public health or people with medical backgrounds like nurses and even doctors. To compete in this job market, you have to put in more effort. To stand out, try to engage in voluntary work to gain relevant work experience, publish your research work, strengthen your network and join professional associations.
Like all grad students, unwanted stress is a given for an MPH student as well. An online degree is more convenient, but if you are juggling a job along with other responsibilities, it can be very stressful. The thought of attending classes after coming back from work or doing assignments, exams, quizzes on off days can scare you off. But it would help if you kept in mind that nothing is possible without hard work. These 1-2 years of your life will set you for life.
Not just during your degree, the job hunt after completing your degree can also be stressful but keep in mind that professionals in other fields also go through this nerve-wracking situation. Given the nature of the work, you will face many unusual problems in your job as well. To deal with uncertain situations, learning different techniques to cope with stress early on will benefit you in the long run.
Exposure to Hazards
Public health is a vast field with several sub-specializations. Professionals from non-medical backgrounds might wonder about the safety situation in this industry, considering its involvement in disease identification and prevention. However, be assured that this field is just as safe or dangerous as any other field of work. Only some concentrations in public health like epidemiology and toxicology can expose you to a certain level of hazards and infectious agents. However, extensive precautions are taken to ensure all involved personnel is protected and safe. Personal protective gear is a must for on-site jobs. Still, there is always a chance of exposure. So, choose your specialization carefully, especially if you’re afraid of getting sick.
We hope that this article helped you find an answer to the question that “Is an MPH degree really worth it?” Take a keen look at all the advantages and disadvantages carefully before coming to a decision. However, keep in mind that hard work is necessary for success, no matter what field.
In public health careers, an MPH degree can greatly advance your career, upscale your career pathways, and give you a chance to influenc millions of lives. This career will help you make a difference within your community and all across the world.