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What is Public Health?
Public health is the study of healthcare as it relates to populations, particularly how a given factor may affect overall public health, such as environmental concerns or disease. A degree in public health prepares students for a career in the various aspects of public health, including research, policy, education and management. Individuals will seek employment at agencies or businesses that deal with public policy regarding health.
An education in public health will revolve around the policies implemented to curb risks, the methods and techniques used to implement research that may be used to form such policies, the various outlets and resources that may be utilized to educate the public to such risks, and the oversight of these applications from a managerial perspective. Due to the nature of public health, students will exposed to a cross section of medical education, sociology, and law, as well as other disciplines that fall under its broad umbrella. Degrees in public health are available at the bachelor degree level; though a minimum of a master degree is typically needed for entry into the field for any meaningful employment.
A curriculum in public health may include:
- Environmental Health
- Global Health
- Communicable Diseases
Individuals pursuing a career in public health will typically find work through hospitals, non-governmental associations, or through local, state or federal agencies. Based on one's education or focus, he or she will work in research, implementation, management or public relations. Individuals will have a variety of opportunities open to them, as the need for qualified professionals operating in the various aspects of public health increases due to the various health risks inherent to large populations and the need for the proper research and dissemination of information in order to assist and educate the populace. Individuals in managerial and advisory positions will more likely affect policies affecting public health, identifying dangers and offering methods and techniques to reduce risks to public health, for example the laws surrounding smoking are a result of the health risks created by second hand smoke and the campaigns that affected those laws are a result of a public health policy and research.
Job Growth, Salary and Related Fields
Job growth is expected to increase dramatically over the next decade as social, environmental, and other concerns build up, risking the health of an ageing population and requiring the need for professionals to work to provide solutions to the increasing health risks. Salaries for public health professionals may vary wildly, though those in administrative positions, epidemiology, or environmental health may exceed $120,000 per year. Research and statistical positions typically earn less at an average of $55,000 per year, with other professions occupying the middle of the spectrum. Education and experience are the primary factors in career advancement and increased pay.