Is Public Health a Good Major? [2024 Guide]

By Dr. Carol Benton
Updated on April 14, 2024
Edited by Briana Sukert
Ready to start your journey?
Is public health a good major? Explore the advantages of this major, and discover the diverse career opportunities available in this rapidly growing field.

Is public health a good major? A bachelors degree in public health may open doors to a rewarding career in this vitally important and rapidly expanding field.

Is Public Health a Good Major

A career in public health may allow you to help others and make a positive contribution to society.

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If you desire to serve others by helping them maintain good health, you may want to consider majoring in public health.

Is Public Health a Good Major?

Medical and Health Services Manager meeting with hospital staff

Yes, public health is a good major for many undergraduate students. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, community and social service jobs are set to grow at 12% over the next 10 years, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Common public health careers in this field include medical and health services manager, dietitian, health education specialist, emergency management director, and community services manager.

With a degree in public health, you might work in a hospital, municipal health department, nonprofit organization, wellness facility, or private industry. A public health career is not the same as a direct patient care job, such as a nurse or doctor.

Instead, public health professionals deal with creating and implementing policies and programs to protect the health of large or small populations of people. They gather data to assess the health needs of people in the community, and they perform outreach to educate citizens and carry out public health programs.

Courses in a public health program often prepare you to work with the public as well, recognizing that social, cultural, and behavioral factors influence the health of people in communities.

Public Health Major Curriculum

Medical and Health Services Manager in a meeting

As with any bachelors program, public health degrees require the completion of a basic core curriculum that includes courses in math, English, history, social and physical sciences, and humanities.

You may then focus on courses in the public health major curriculum. Here is a list of courses you might take in a public health degree program:

  • The Role of Communication in Public Health
  • Public Health and the Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Health Promotion in the Workplace
  • Public Health Program Planning
  • Survey of Health Equity
  • The Influence of Social Networks on Public Health
  • Statistical Analysis in Public Health
  • Survey Methods for Public Health
  • Public Health Management
  • Women’s Health Issues in Public Health

This list represents a small sample of the challenging and interesting courses you might take as a public health major.

3 Things You Can Do with a Public Health Degree

Medical and Health Services Manager meeting with a doctor

With a bachelors in public health, you might advance in your career to become a manager or director of public health services. The following leadership positions in public health may be obtained with a bachelors degree along with experience.

1. Medical and Health Services Manager

As a medical and health services manager, you could be responsible for planning, directing, and coordinating the work in a healthcare facility or health department.

Your job may include recruiting and training staff, ensuring compliance with laws, and improving the efficiency of healthcare delivery. For this role, managers must demonstrate excellent communication skills in order to lead colleagues and staff as well as to reach out to the public.

2. Emergency Management Director

Emergency Management Director meeting with staff

As an emergency management director, you may organize and coordinate the responses to natural disasters and other emergencies that affect the health, safety, and well-being of the public.

You may prepare plans for disaster response and coordinate with public and private organizations to be ready for emergency situations. In this role, you may also assess hazards, secure funding, and review emergency plans.

3. Public Health Community Services Manager

As a manager of community public health outreach, you may work with healthcare professionals and community members to assess the needs, plan the programs, and implement the public health initiatives in communities.

Your responsibilities would likely include communicating and coordinating with representatives of the public as well as healthcare providers. You may also analyze data and write proposals for funding to provide public health services.

Public Health Careers

Public Health Careers

Completing your bachelors degree in public health may qualify you for a variety of jobs in this important field.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the following jobs are related to public health and can be pursued with a bachelors degree. Epidemiologists, though, often require a masters. Experience is necessary for advancement to management and leadership positions.

Careers Annual Median Salary
Medical and Health Services Manager $104,280
Health and Safety Engineer $94,240
Occupational Health and Safety Specialist $76,340
Emergency Management Director $76,250
Epidemiologist $74,560
Social and Community Service Manager $69,600
Dietitian or Nutritionist $63,090
Health Education Specialist $56,500
Medical Records and Health Information Technician $44,090
Community Health Worker $42,000

Public health jobs exist in governmental agencies, such as health departments, as well as in public and private settings, like public school systems and healthcare facilities. Public health jobs in disaster management organizations and NGOs even take workers all over the world.

How to Know If a Bachelor’s in Public Health Is Right for You

Health Education Specialists meeting with community

Planning your college major is an important step. One way to determine if majoring in public health is a good fit for you is to consider the career opportunities in the field.

Public health is a service-oriented field, focusing on helping others. If you want to help stop the spread of communicable diseases or promote healthy lifestyles through educational outreach, then you may consider a public health career.

What Is Public Health?

Public health professionals promote good health among people in entire populations. Workers in public health jobs may gather data, perform research, determine the health needs of people in communities, and respond by planning and implementing public health programs.

The programs that public health professionals carry out include detection, prevention, and treatment of infectious diseases that might spread throughout a population. Additionally, public health workers may promote good health by educating the public about healthy nutrition and lifestyles.

What Majors Fall Under Public Health?

Several academic subjects and degree programs relate closely to public health. These include community health and health promotion, nutritional science, health science, environmental health, health and human services, health equity, and global health.

After completing a bachelor’s in public health, you might enter a masters program where you focus on a public health specialization. Areas of concentration include the following: disaster management, epidemiology, public nutrition, occupational health and safety, and biostatistics.

Also, some graduate students choose to enter MSW / MPH dual degree programs and earn a degree in both social work and public health.

Is Public Health a Hard Major?

Bachelor’s in Public Health student in a university

Courses in public health degree programs include biology, health sciences, and social sciences as well as statistics and communications.

As a public health major, you may take courses in psychology, sociology, socioeconomics, computer applications for data analysis, biology, health science, and public relations, as they pertain to the field of public health.

Whether a public health major seems difficult may depend on whether you are interested in science and the topics that will be covered in a public health degree program.

What Do Public Health Majors Do?

Medical and Health Services Manager meeting with medical staff

As a public health major, you may go on to plan and implement programs that positively affect the health of large and small populations of people.

You may work for governmental agencies and public or private healthcare organizations to stop the spread of communicable diseases. You may also promote healthy lifestyles among members of the public.

What Can You Do with a Public Health Degree?

With a bachelor’s degree in public health, you might qualify for an entry-level position in a health department, hospital, wellness clinic, emergency management agency, or community services agency. A health education specialist, for example, earns an average of $56,500 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

To advance in your career toward management or director positions, you may gain experience over time. Medical and health services managers earn an average of $104,280 per year. Additionally, you could also earn a masters degree in public health for career advancement and higher-paying jobs.

How Much Money Do Public Health Majors Make?

Emergency Management Directors in a meeting

A bachelors degree is required for most entry-level positions in public health. After you gain experience, you may advance to leadership positions, such as a manager or director for public health services.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, entry-level public health salaries typically range from $42,000 to $63,000. For example, a public health educator makes an average of $56,500 per year.

With experience, you may be able to advance your career and salary with a management position. An emergency management director earns an average of $76,250, and a medical and health services manager makes an average of $104,280.

Is a Public Health Degree Worth It?

Medical and Health Services Managers meeting in a cafe

Yes, a public health degree is worth it for many students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting 12% job growth in community and social service occupations over the next 10 years.

Common public health careers in this field include medical and health services manager, public health and safety engineer, emergency management director, technical medical writer, and social and community services manager.

A bachelors my allow you to obtain entry-level positions within the field of public health. With experience, you may advance into higher-level positions as a manager or director for public health services.

Getting Your Public Health Degree Online

Getting Your Public Health Degree Online

Online learning is a convenient and efficient way to pursue your degree in public health. Virtual learning platforms allow you to access the same professors, high-quality instruction, and resources that you get from on-campus programs. This is the case whether it’s an online bachelors, masters, or even an online PhD in Public Health.

By taking classes online, you may be able to keep your current job and fulfill family responsibilities while you’re working toward your degree. You may enroll as either a part-time or full-time student, working at your own pace.

To launch your educational journey toward a career in public health, you can start investigating online public health degree programs from accredited institutions.

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