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Is a Bachelor’s in Public Health Worth it – (Pros VS. Cons)
Written By: Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Have you been looking for a career path that positively impacts your community? You may be interested in public health but don’t know what career options are out there. You may even be wondering, is a bachelor’s in public health worth it? Public Health is a growing field with numerous career opportunities and room for growth. Continue reading to learn more and learn 25 reasons why a bachelor’s in public health is worth it. We will also look at 7 reasons why a bachelor’s in public health is not worth it and answer some additional questions you may have.
RECOMMENDED ONLINE BACHELOR’S IN PUBLIC HEALTH PROGRAMS
WHAT IS A BACHELOR’S IN PUBLIC HEALTH DEGREE?
A bachelor’s in public health degree is an undergraduate degree that prepares you to work in a public health or service-related career. A public health degree prepares you to promote health and wellness at a community level through disease prevention, education, and policy creation. Once you graduate with your degree, you will be able to work as a public health professional in a large number of roles. A bachelor’s in public health is worth it if you want to start a health-focused career or if you want to get a master’s or doctoral degree later.
HOW LONG DOES A BACHELOR’S IN PUBLIC HEALTH DEGREE TAKE?
The amount of time it takes to complete a bachelor’s degree in public health depends on the program you choose and if you attend school part-time or full-time. The University of Cincinnati
online program will take 4-years of online classes to complete your degree. If you prefer in-person classes, you can earn your degree from Oregon State University
in 4 years as well.
If you are needing flexibility and want to complete your degree on your timeline, including evening classes, you can earn a degree online from Grand Canyon University
. This program allows you to take classes at your own pace and work around your current job or other obligations. Some programs will accept transfer credits from other schools, which may reduce the amount of time it takes for you to graduate.
HOW MUCH DOES A BACHELOR’S IN PUBLIC HEALTH DEGREE COST?
It is important to consider the cost when looking into a public health degree. The cost of your degree can vary depending on the school and if you attend part-time or full-time. At Regis College
, you will pay $46,150 per year, so if it takes you four years to complete your degree, you can expect to pay around $184,600. In comparison, it will cost you $320 per credit to complete your degree online through Southern New Hampshire University
. You will need 120 credits to graduate, so your total cost would be $38,400.
WHAT ARE THE ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS FOR A BACHELOR’S IN PUBLIC HEALTH DEGREE?
Here is a list of the common requirements you will need to meet to apply for a bachelor’s in public health degree:
• A high-school diploma
• A copy of your high school transcript to show which classes you completed
• A GPA of 3.0 or above
• A copy of your standardized test scores (ACT or SAT)
Make sure you check with the admissions department at the program you want to apply for and get a list of their specific requirements, as they may differ from the ones listed above.
WHY IS A BACHELOR’S IN PUBLIC HEALTH WORTH IT? – THE PROS
(The following are the 25 top reasons why a Bachelor’s in Public Health is worth it in 2023.)
REASON #1: A bachelor’s degree in public health allows you to make a difference in people’s lives.
One of the top reasons why a bachelor’s in public health is worth it is because you can make a measurable difference in the lives of people in your community. This may include your friends and family, or it can even be on a greater scale if you work for a state or nationwide program. Having a rewarding and fulfilling career can increase your overall job satisfaction. The most recent Public Health Work Force Interest and Needs Survey
reported that 79% of respondents are satisfied with their job. The satisfaction reported from their job is partly credited to the direct work they do for others.
REASON #2: A bachelor’s in public health promotes lifelong learning.
Working in public health requires you to stay up-to-date on emerging health trends and disease management. It requires research and an understanding of what is important for the health of your community. Lifelong learning continually expands your knowledge base and allows you to be a valuable member of the healthcare community. Staying up-to-date on healthcare trends also makes it easier to seek out new jobs or change career paths later on.
REASON #3: You get to work closely with other professionals
Public health degree holders have the opportunity to work closely with other professionals, including doctors, nurses, educators, and more. Working with other professionals will allow you to network and collaborate to improve health outcomes in your community. Without your public health expertise, these other professionals may not be able to make the best-informed care decisions for the populations they serve.
REASON #4: The ability to teach others in a way they can understand.
Holding a bachelor’s degree in public health gives you the ability to educate community members and meet them where they are at. Providing health education in workplaces, schools, or through community outreach ensures that more people have access to the health information they need. Depending on your audience, you can tailor your information in a way everyone can understand.
REASON #5: You enjoy analyzing and interpreting data.
Another one of the top reasons why a bachelor’s in public health is worth it is if you enjoy analyzing and interpreting data. A large part of public health is focused on statistics such as disease prevalence, rates of infection in a given community, and monitoring annual trends. Public health professionals help to interpret this data which drives current and future health policies and procedures.
REASON #6: You will have a large selection of job choices.
Having a bachelor’s in public health opens the door to career opportunities. You won’t have to worry about being stuck in one specific job forever. If you decide that you do not enjoy the first job you take there will be a list of others to try as well. Public health allows you to work for the government and private sector agencies so the career opportunities are endless.
REASON #7: The ability to work for government agencies
Many public health professionals choose to work for government agencies due to the benefits that are provided. Government agencies usually provide excellent health and retirement benefits. Having the security of healthcare insurance and benefits after retirement can reduce stress when you are ready to retire. Government agencies are also the largest driving force behind healthcare policy and change.
REASON #8: The opportunity to work for hospitals or large corporations
Private hospitals and large corporations often provide higher salaries. There can be more room for monetary growth and merit-based raises. Private companies will also allow you to create and implement policy changes without having to navigate as many rules and regulations. Working for a hospital in your area will also allow you to make a direct impact on the care people receive in your community.
REASON #9: You are interested in dual degree options.
Dual degree programs can be valuable if you want to go into research or work in a specialized field. You can have a dual degree in public health and biology or chemistry, for example. This increases your options for specialized jobs and opportunities. It opens up the door for working in related fields such as epidemiology. You can also choose to have a dual degree in nursing and public health if you want to have a highly specialized degree that sets you apart from others.
REASON #10: You want to give back to your community
Many people go into public health because they want to make a measurable impact in their community. If this is one of your goals, it may be one the biggest reasons why a bachelor’s in public health is worth it for you. A survey
conducted for public health workers reported that 95% of respondents feel the work they do is important. Having the value of your job connected to the community you live in can be rewarding.
REASON #11: The public health field is constantly growing and changing.
If you thrive in new and changing environments, a degree in public health is probably for you. If we have learned anything throughout the recent pandemic, it is that we must be capable of change. Adapting to the changing environment of infectious disease and public health needs is not showing signs of slowing down anytime soon.
REASON #12: There are numerous job opportunities right out of school.
A bachelor’s in public health degree is worth it if you are hoping to find a job right out of school. Many companies are willing to hire public health degree holders with minimal to no experience. Completing an internship during your degree program will make finding your first job even easier. You will be able to look for jobs in health education, occupational health and safety, and social and community services to name a few.
REASON #13: A bachelor’s in public health degree can be the starting point for medical school.
One of the top reasons why a bachelor’s in public health is worth it is if you have interest in applying for medical, dental, or veterinary school. Having an undergraduate degree in a science-related field will help you with your admission applications. It will also lay the foundation for working in the healthcare field as it will teach you valuable information. If you complete an internship during your program, it will help you as well with real-life work experience.
REASON #14: Opportunities for in-person or remote work.
Depending on the specific job you are interested in you may be able to find remote work. Many large companies use public health professionals to assist with occupational health roles which can be done remotely. Some insurance companies also hire public health professionals for in-person and remote roles.
REASON #15: A bachelor’s degree in public help gives you job security.
Public health is a growing field with increasing demand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics
, jobs within the health education specialist and community health workers sector (both jobs require or recommend a bachelor's in Public Health) are expected to grow by 16% between now and 2031. A projected increase in job demand is always a good thing when looking at options for your degree.
REASON #16: The ability to work in a leadership role.
If you are a natural-born leader and want to guide others, there are many opportunities for this within the public health sector. Working in a leadership role will allow you to identify needs within a community or corporation and directly contribute to finding solutions. You will work with your team to implement new policies and procedures to meet organizational and community goals.
REASON #17: You are interested in research.
Research can be a lucrative career path as it drives innovation and change. Having a bachelor’s degree in public health will allow you to work in several research-related fields. These jobs include things such as biostatistics, analysis of health trends, determining personal and environmental impacts of diseases, and more.
REASON #18: The ability to contribute to disease eradication.
The combined effort of global public health agencies has led to some disease eradication. There is constant and ongoing work being done behind the scenes to eradicate infectious diseases and improve the lives of people in every community. Public health professionals can directly contribute to this goal through their everyday work.
REASON #19: Getting to help underserved communities.
Even in our current digital age where we can access health information and resources with the press of our finger, many underserved communities still lack access to basic services. One of the biggest reasons why a bachelor’s in public health is worth it is your ability to bring health education, services, and awareness to underserved communities in your area. Through education, outreach, and public health clinics you can improve health outcomes for people of all ages.
REASON #20: Working with a diverse population.
Depending on where you live and the communities you choose to work with in your career, there is a good chance you will end up working with a diverse population. Whether you work close to home or far away, all communities are comprised of different individuals. The ability to improve health outcomes for a diverse population can be fulfilling and rewarding.
REASON #21: Becoming more culturally competent.
To fully understand the communities you are serving as a public health worker, it will be important to understand their culture. By investing time in learning what is important to others, you will become more culturally competent and be able to meet people where they are. Culture can be a large driving factor for how and why people do and do not access health care services.
REASON #22: Opportunities to travel domestically and internationally.
Public health professionals through their job or volunteer programs can choose to travel domestically or internationally to provide public health services. This may be part of routine outreach or it may be to meet growing demand during a natural disaster or global pandemic. For some people, one of the biggest reasons why a bachelor’s in public health is worth it is to have travel opportunities. As we have seen during the recent pandemic, other countries have struggled to vaccinate their population or need help expanding their healthcare services to meet the growing need for care.
REASON #23: The ability to be an innovator and create change.
Most public health jobs require some level of policy creation and implementation. You will have the ability to be an innovator in your specific field. Creating new policies to improve the health of others is a measurable way to see and create change within a company or community. Public health degrees are unique in the way that they give you a direct path to implement new ideas based on data and health trends.
REASON #24: Contributing positively to global health issues.
As we have seen with outbreaks such as Ebola, Monkeypox, and even COVID-19, health outbreaks that originally occurred in other nations can greatly impact the whole globe. Public health degree holders help to monitor global health trends and prepare their community to react if the threat reaches them. Vaccination, infection control measures, and isolation guidelines are all driven by public health professionals.
REASON #25: Influencing food safety.
One of the less obvious career paths for you to take in public health is working to support food safety. Public health professionals help set and monitor guidelines for safe food handling and storage. They also assist with monitoring for foodborne illness outbreaks and educating communities on how to lower their risk of eating contaminated food or products. If food safety is something you are interested in it might be one of the biggest reasons why a bachelor’s in public health is worth it.
WHY A BACHELOR’S IN PUBLIC HEALTH MAY NOT BE WORTH IT FOR YOU? – THE CONS
(Now that you have gone through the 25 reasons why a Bachelor’s in Public Health is worth it, here are 7 top reasons why it may not be the right degree for you.)
REASON #1: It can take four or more years to complete your degree.
The amount of time it takes to complete your degree may not be worth it if you are looking to start a career right away. If you are working while earning your degree it can take even longer.
REASON #2: It can be expensive.
A bachelor’s in public health degree is not worth it if you are unable to afford the cost or find scholarships. Paying for a bachelor’s degree is not cheap, if you have financial concerns this may not be the program for you.
REASON #3: You do not enjoy working with others.
A career in public health will require you to work closely with the community and partner with other health professionals. If you do not enjoy working closely with others, it may be wise to look at other options.
REASON #4: You do not like teaching other people about their health
A large part of working in public health is education. If you do not enjoy teaching others and finding ways to make information engaging, this may not be the degree for you.
REASON #5: Data and Statistics seem confusing
You may decide a bachelor’s in public health is not worth it if the thought of looking at data and statistics seems confusing. While these are skills you will learn during the program, it will be helpful to decide if you enjoy working with numbers. A large part of public health can be analyzing and understanding statistics.
REASON #6: You are hesitant about responding during emergencies
Public health professionals may be required to respond during natural disasters or disease outbreaks. They are often on the frontlines of new disease outbreaks. If the thought of responding in an emergency is overwhelming you may want to consider a different program.
REASON #7: You want a job without any surprises
The health and wellness of a community can change at any time. Public health degree holders must be able to change and adapt to the needs of their community. It is difficult to predict what needs will arise and you must be comfortable meeting the challenges as they occur.
WHAT ARE THE 3 MAIN REASONS BEHIND THE DEMAND FOR BACHELOR’S IN PUBLIC HEALTH DEGREE HOLDERS?
There is a growing demand for bachelor’s in public health degree holders, this demand is being driven by many factors, here are 3 of the main reasons:
1. The recent pandemic:
During the start of the pandemic there was a shortage of qualified public health professionals to assist with contact tracing and infectious disease management. The demand for public health professionals has grown steadily, and government and private sector employers alike are hiring public health workers to meet the growing demand for tasks now necessary to keep communities and workplaces safe.
2. Disease Prevention:
Due to emerging and ongoing infectious diseases such as HIV-AIDS and Ebola, the need for people with a bachelor’s degree in public health is in high demand. Public health experts are needed to collect and analyze data that will help prevent and manage disease outbreaks. A bachelor’s in public health is worth it if you want to help meet the growing demand and contribute to this important work.
3. The need for health education in schools and workplaces:
Public health degree holders often provide education in school and workplace settings. As conditions such as obesity and diabetes become more common, the demand for education continues to grow. Without public health educators, the demand for these education needs may not be met.
WHAT IS THE STARTING SALARY FOR BACHELOR’S IN PUBLIC HEALTH DEGREE HOLDERS?
The starting salary for bachelor’s in public health degree holders is $34,660 a year. This breaks down to an hourly rate of $16.66, a weekly rate of $667, and a monthly total of $2,890.
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE SALARY FOR BACHELOR’S IN PUBLIC HEALTH DEGREE HOLDERS?
After you gain some experience, you may want to know what the average salary for bachelor’s in public health degree holders is. Your annual salary can average $60,000. This breaks down to $5,000 per month, $1,154 per week, or $28.85 per hour.
WHAT ARE THE 3 BEST JOBS YOU CAN GET WITH A BACHELOR’S IN PUBLIC HEALTH DEGREE?
With a bachelor's degree in Public Health, there are a large number of jobs to choose from. Here is a list of the top three jobs:
1. Health Education Specialist:
If you enjoy teaching others and providing high-quality education, this may be the best job for you. In this role, you will work with epidemiologists and infectious disease experts to provide high-quality education in a community or healthcare setting.
2. Public Health Administrator:
If you are a natural leader and enjoy responsibility, becoming a public health administrator may be a good fit for you. In this job, you will be in charge of programs that deliver public health services and implement disease prevention strategies.
3. Public Health Analyst:
Do you enjoy analyzing data and looking for trends? If so, a career as public health analyst could be a good choice. Professionals in this role will use public health data to create and implement solutions for health problems or health-related programs.
BONUS! 3 TIPS TO MAKE MORE MONEY WITH A BACHELOR’S IN PUBLIC HEALTH DEGREE?
If you are looking for ways to make sure a bachelor’s in public health degree is worth it, look no further. Here are three ways you can make more money with your degree:
1. Pick a specialty:
Specializing within your degree to focus on a particular area can increase the amount of money you make. Many programs offer public health specialties focusing on health management and policy or health promotion and prevention.
2. Get a Master’s degree:
You can choose to continue your education and either get a master’s in public health or go on to medical, veterinary, or dental school. All of these options will lead to careers where you can make more money.
3. Become an Epidemiologist:
This is another way to specialize in your field. With the focus on emerging infectious diseases and the need to understand them, becoming an epidemiologist is a way to make more money.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Public Health can lead to a lifelong career. If you think you will enjoy working with others to promote health either in your community or on a global level this is the career for you. In this article, we explored 25 reasons why a bachelor’s in public health is worth it and we also looked at 7 reasons why it might not be worth it for you. Ultimately, you must decide the answer to the question, is a bachelor’s in public health worth it?
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED
1. What Is The Best Age To Do A Bachelor’s In Public Health?
The best age to do a bachelor’s in Public health is the age you feel ready. Getting your degree requires focus and commitment. Whenever you feel ready is the right age for you.
2. How Hard Is It To Get Into A Bachelor’s In Public Health Program?
Depending on if you want to attend school in-person or online will determine how hard it is to get in. In general, getting into a public health program is not more difficult than other similar degrees.
3. Do I Need Work Experience To Get Into A Bachelor’s In Public Health Program?
No, you do not have to have work experience to get into a Bachelor’s in Public Health program. Many programs will require you to complete an internship or mentor program before graduation. This is a reason why a bachelor’s in public health is worth it since you can graduate with real-life experience.
4. What Is The Minimum GPA To Get Into A Bachelor’s In Public Health Program?
On average, the minimum GPA requirement for a Bachelor’s in Public Health is 3.0 but this can vary depending on the program.
5. Can I Get Into A Bachelor’s In Public Health Program With A Low GPA?
Some public health schools may accept a low GPA or accept standardized test scores instead. However, remember admission can be competitive. So, don't allow yourself to settle for the lowest GPA.
6. Are Online Bachelor’s In Public Health Programs Worth It?
Online Bachelor’s in Public Health programs can be worth it if you need to take classes during the evening, at a slower pace, or do not live near a college campus.
7. Can Bachelor’s In Public Health Students Have A Life?
Yes, there are many Bachelor’s in Public Health programs available that allow you time to have a life and complete your degree.
8. Do Students Fail In Bachelor’s In Public Health?
Just like in every bachelor’s program, there are some Bachelor’s in Public Health students who fail. The failure rate for public health degrees is not higher than for other similar programs.
9. Will I Ever Regret Getting A Bachelor’s In Public Health Degree?
Probably not, there are endless career opportunities to try out with a bachelor’s in public health. You can also choose to continue your education and use your bachelor’s degree to get a master’s or doctorate.
10. Will Bachelor’s In Public Health Graduates Be Paid Less In The Future?
It is unlikely that graduates of a public health program will be paid less in the future due to the increasing demand for healthcare professionals in general.
11. Are All Bachelor’s In Public Health Graduates Successful In Their Careers?
Your success is determined by how hard you work. If you are passionate about your job, you will likely be successful.
12. Are Bachelor’s In Public Health Graduates Happy With Their Jobs?
Like many health careers, the work can be rewarding. If you find that you are not happy with your job, there will be plenty of other ones to try.
13. Can Bachelor’s In Public Health Degree Holders Become Rich?
Some Public Health degree graduates decide to continue their education and pursue medical or dental degrees. This can provide you with a higher income.
14. What Are Some Bachelor’s In Public Health Degree Alternatives?
If Public Health is not for you, you can also consider a degree in counseling, case management, or nursing.
Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years of experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels. Because of her love of nursing education, Darby became a test-taking strategist and NCLEX prep coach and assists nursing graduates across the United States who are preparing to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).