Public health is a growing and evolving field that is gaining increasing importance. The American Public Health Association describes public health as an effort to improve communities’ quality of life and prevent public hazards and public harm. It can involve tracking disease outbreaks, setting safety standards, developing nutrition programs for children, preventing gun violence, addressing climate change and more.
When it comes to making a difference in the world and improving people’s lives, a public health degree offers many fulfilling career opportunities. The Arkansas State University (A-State) online Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Public Health program prepares graduates to address the most pressing public health concerns that keep individuals and communities from achieving optimal health.
Graduates of A-State’s program have the versatile skills necessary for a handful of career directions. Here are four of those potential career paths:
1. Health Services Manager
Health services managers oversee the delivery of care at healthcare organizations. They may be responsible for an entire facility, including staffing and budgetary tasks, or take charge of a specific department or program, such as an intensive care unit or immunization outreach initiative. These professionals ensure that healthcare facilities and programs run efficiently, comply with regulations and meet the needs of patients.
As healthcare priorities shift to focus on improving social determinants of health and health inequities, health services managers are instrumental in adapting service offerings and staffing to maintain adequate care access within communities.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for health services managers is $104,830 (May 2022), with the highest earners exceeding $209K. The job outlook is promising as the BLS reports employment growth of 28% through 2032.
2. Public Health Programs Manager
A public health programs manager leads and coordinates community and social service programs. Sometimes also called social and community service managers, these individuals work to improve the lives of individuals and communities by addressing social issues such as food insecurity, mental health or housing instability. They connect people with essential services and develop and implement programs to support individuals and families struggling with the emotional and financial impact of big life events (like losing a job or loved one or receiving a medical diagnosis).
The median annual wage for a public health programs manager is $74,240, notes the BLS (May 2022). The demand for these professionals is expected to grow much faster than average as communities face ongoing social challenges.
Epidemiologists are disease experts who seek to understand and control the spread of diseases and other health-related conditions to improve public health. They track disease patterns, assess risks to the population and conduct research to inform evidence-based guidelines and emergency responses.
Many people first became familiar with the field of epidemiology during the COVID-19 pandemic and have come to understand the critical role these public health professionals have in preventing and responding to disease outbreaks. While a bachelor’s degree in public health is a valuable step toward career advancement, epidemiologists typically hold a master’s or doctoral degree.
The median annual wage for epidemiologists is $78,520, according to the BLS (May 2022), with the potential for higher salaries as professionals progress in their careers and education. The BLS reports that the job outlook is 27% growth in job opportunities through 2032.
4. Community Health Worker
Community health workers promote public health by educating individuals and communities about health and wellness issues like nutrition, vaccinations and chronic disease management. They also develop and implement programs to improve access to preventive care services and connect community members with healthcare providers. Through their efforts, community health workers can increase public awareness of these critical issues, build engagement and improve well-being.
The median annual wage for community health workers is $46,190, according to the BLS (May 2022). As the importance of preventive health measures continues to grow, the demand for these professionals should rise.
A-State’s B.S. in Public Health online program readies students for fulfilling careers within their communities and beyond. Whether you aspire to manage a healthcare organization, contribute to epidemiological research or engage directly with community members, a degree in public health allows you to make a meaningful impact in the lives of many.
Learn more about Arkansas State University’s online B.S. in Public Health program.