How Do I Get Into Public Health Management?
By Sam MacArthur

Public health can be a very lucrative, yet challenging career path. This career focuses on the overall well-being of human life and preventing diseases. There are many areas that fall under public health that must be properly managed. That’s where public health management really shines, being the leader in partnerships, making decisions, and ensuring everything runs smoothly.

What is Public Health Management?

Public health management is the administrative and managerial part of public health. It deals with how systems and services are delivered, organizations are structured and the financial aspects of creating efficient, effective, and equitable health services.

The possibilities are endless with a career in public management, with additional benefits of operating across the board in a number of capacities. Public health management jobs have a variety of tasks under their umbrella. A public health manager manages various public health threats in an effort to protect the population as a whole. Some duties that fall under this career path include:

  • Overseeing other public health officials
  • The development of new data collection methods
  • Development of new testing methods
  • Creating and evaluation of public health initiatives
  • Development of new public health programs based on location
  • Partnerships with other public health officials to identify and correct problems or potential hazards that may compromise public health
  • Review reports, approve or deny changes and red flag issues
  • Prepare budgets for departments and municipalities
  • Disseminate information and delegate responsibilities to other managers on the public health team

What Type of Education is Needed for a Public Health Management Career?

While some positions only require a bachelor’s degree, that is rare. In most instances due to the high level of responsibility, these positions require a master’s degree or higher, as well as experience. The first step on the road to becoming a public health manager is to acquire a bachelor’s degree via a four-year undergraduate program in public health or healthcare administration.

Once the bachelor’s degree has been obtained, students may either pursue a Master of Public Health or a Master of Health Services Administration degree. This involves an additional two years of education, including one year of an internship where students receive hands-on field experience. Students who already have a degree but wish to branch into public health may pursue a public health certificate program which can be obtained through an online or in-person program.

Dual programs combining the MPH with the MHA, or an MPH with a Master of Business Administration, have become a common choice for ambitious public health leaders. The choice between an MPH, MHA, or MBA no longer has to be that hard – you can get a combo!

How Much Do Public Health Managers Make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average yearly salary for a public health manager is $88,850 but that increases with the level of education, experience, and role of the public health manager. This is a lucrative field, with the demand continuously growing. In fact, this field is expected to grow by 23% by 2022. That leaves a number of options for individuals starting new careers or individuals looking to upgrade or switch their current career path.

What Types of Jobs are Available for this Career Path?

Individuals with this type of degree can be found in a number of roles from financial to regulatory. Hospital COO’s, human resources professionals, public relations, marketing, technology, and policymakers can have degrees of this type. Many legal professionals who work in hospitals or facilities also have a degree of this type along with their Juris doctorate. These types of professionals can be found working for pharmaceutical companies, in group physician practices, outpatient care centers, mental health organizations, and more.

One of the unique things about this career path is that it isn’t limited to working in a healthcare facility. You may also find many healthcare suppliers running companies that require a degree of this type. It’s very possible to find individuals working in consulting firms, healthcare management companies, biotech companies, and educational organizations.

No matter which area is pursued, having experience is required when working in this capacity. Internships and roles that help gain the experience needed are crucial to help move up the ladder. In these types of roles, it does not happen overnight but can be achieved over time. Many people interested in this field started working in a doctor’s office or in an administrative role in the business office to see how things are done and handled.

If you’re looking for a rewarding and lucrative career that spans a variety of areas and roles, having a degree in public health is a definite advantage. These roles help shape the healthcare system that sets the standards and protects the people we serve every day.

Related Rankings:

Top 20 Dual MPH/MBA Degrees

Top 25 MPH and Health Administration Degrees