We are in an altruistic field. Most of us got a Master’s in public health because we had a burning desire to do good in the world and make a difference for other people, so it might seem a bit out of place to talk about money to a group of MPH grads.
However, as Zig Ziglar put it,
Obviously, our life’s ambition is more than obtaining oxygen but we certainly need oxygen in order to achieve our true purpose.
So it is with money. If we truly want our organizations (and ourselves) to thrive so we can continue contributing to making the world better, we might have to take a stab at this money topic.
So In Public Health, Where is the Money?
Let's take a glance at what the experts say. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the highest paid MPH grads are biostatisticians and epidemiologists. These are the only emphases that require a Master’s degree for a starting position and they are certainly compensated for it. The current salary range for epidemiologists and biostatisticians is somewhere between $45,000 and $130,000. In contrast, salaries for health educators fall within $30,000 and $90,000.
This data is the reality for many MPH grads. Looking back, Kathleen Bonner, MPH wishes she had taken more biostatistics and epidemiology classes during her Master’s program. She sees that this is the current demand in public health and realizes that these classes could’ve added to her skill set.
I feel the same way. I barely survived epi and biostats and was glad to check these off the requirement list, but it hit me during my first job search that I should’ve taken more data-focused classes in order to stand out to potential employers.
What Are Other MPH Grads To Do?
We have several options:
- Don’t worry about it. If your passion is health promotion (like mine) and you are okay with your current salary, then enjoy it!
- Think outside the box. Don’t settle for a 9-5 desk job that will not pay you very much. Instead, create a public health online business, a non-profit, or another side business…some way to use your skills to supplement (or replace) your current income.
- Enrich and expand your skill set. We all have a backbone in epi and biostats from our core MPH classes. Use online resources (for free) or attend university classes (for mucho dinero, but might be seen as more legitimate to employers) to supplement what you already know. Adding a few classes to your resume might help you greatly increase your earning potential.
Again, I’m not saying that money is everything. Serving and making the world a better place is everything, but the reality is that money is the “oxygen” that makes a lot of good things happen. Finding ways to use your skills to get more money so that you can make that difference…that’s where the magic happens.