Public Health

What Can You Do With an MPH in Community Health Education?

What Can You Do With an MPH in Community Health Education?
Community health educators promote health and wellness to specific social groups. Some health care workers focus on a geographical area—working in local schools, hospitals, and shelters—while others home in on at-risk communities. Image from Unsplash
Ginny Bartolone profile
Ginny Bartolone June 28, 2021

An MPH in Community Health Education enables you to direct outreach programs that promote public health among specific populations. Many excellent schools offer this degree online.

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Unquestionably, the past several years have showcased the crucial role public health educators play. If you’re on track to earn an MPH in community health education, your expertise is in high demand.

Gaining access to healthcare became far more challenging for many communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. While federal health officials focused on the country as a whole, most communities looked to their local health professionals for guidance.

Earning an MPH with a concentration in community health education allows you to serve as a bridge between your neighbors and the healthcare they require. Your skills will enable you to carry crucial health information right to your neighbor’s door with compassion and professionalism.

Curious about what you can do with an MPH in Community Health Education? Here’s some excellent news: entering the field with an MPH should significantly increase your salary range and open the doors to more full-time positions. Below, we’ll dive into some prevalent job titles along with their job descriptions and typical salaries.

In this article, we’ll answer a few frequently posed questions:

  • What do community health educators do?
  • How much do community health educators make?
  • Will I make more with a master’s degree?
  • Can I get my MPH in Community Health Education online?

What do community health educators do?

Community health educators promote health and wellness to specific social groups. Some health care workers focus on a geographical area—working in local schools, hospitals, and shelters—while others home in on at-risk communities.

You’ll find community health workers in:

  • Addiction centers
  • Government agencies
  • Hospitals
  • Humanitarian non-profits
  • Private companies
  • Schools
  • Shelters

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of public health positions should grow rapidly in the next ten years. The BLS reports a 13 percent increase in jobs—much higher than the 4 percent rate for the job market as a whole.

Community health educator jobs

Let’s break down some of the most commonly occurring job titles in each of the categories above. Each of these offers unique health education programs to employees, patients, and local community members.

Community service managers

These leaders organize community outreach programs that connect local people with health care services. For example, they may spread details about the available health benefits for families or local clinics for annual screenings and vaccinations.

Additionally, community service managers work to advance available programs in their area. Their work aims to better serve the specific needs of the local people during times of crisis and improve overall wellness.

The vast majority of community services managers hold a bachelor’s degree, while a master’s degree is more common for leadership and management positions. Other competencies include:

  • Communication
  • Community organizing
  • Problem-solving
  • Psychology

School health educator

Many school health and wellness coordinators have backgrounds in community and public health. These experts build school- or community-wide health promotion plans for students and, at times, their families as well. Responsibilities may include health record-keeping, student health screenings, and behavioral health counseling.

Typical requirements for a school educator include:

  • Administrative and organizational skills
  • Bachelor’s and master’s degree in nursing or public health
  • Communication skills
  • Experience working with young children in school or community settings
  • Psychology and physical education background

Employee wellness coordinator

Here’s a private sector pathway for public health education. Companies are redirecting their focus to mental health and overall wellness. These full-time coordinators:

  • Collaborate with company directors to shape a healthy work culture
  • Plan and implement physical health education and wellness programs for employees
  • Present to employees on work and home health
  • Report on links between productivity and corporate health goals

Director of volunteer services

From undergraduate public health programs to local community centers, volunteers are the heart of local projects. Professionals with public education experience make ideal leaders for these recruits.

The director of volunteer services typically oversees the process from recruitment to training. They may also track the progress of each project, setting goals for groups of volunteers. While these positions normally only require a bachelor’s, some large organizations prefer a master’s degree.

Typical requirements include:

  • Background in volunteer management
  • Communication
  • Data tracking
  • Education
  • Project management
  • Recruitment

You’ll find countless additional positions in the education communications field, including those that focus on:

  • Alcohol and substance
  • Communicable diseases
  • Corporate training
  • Diabetes
  • Grant writing
  • Health curriculum development
  • Health journalism
  • Reproductive health
  • Vaccines
  • Youth outreach

“I’m Interested in Public Health!”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that there are more than 170 public health job categories, and a Master of Public Health prepares students for employment in all of them. This degree can open doors to excellent career opportunities in the private and public sectors. (source)

An MPH in Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Health Services Administration, or Health Policy and Management will provide a much more marketable set of skills and help you qualify for some of the highest-paying public health jobs. One of the best things you can do to maximize your earning potential after graduating with an MPH is to enroll in a program that has strong post-graduation job placement rates and high alumni salaries. If you don’t see either of these metrics on a school’s website, reach out to the admissions office directly to ask for more information. (source)

University and Program Name Learn More

How much do community health educators make?

You’ll find a range of salaries in the community health field, from entry-level to leadership positions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that health education specialists overall make about $57,000 a year. Keep in mind that this includes community health workers from different regions, health-related fields, and organizations around the country.

Your comprehensive training during grad school qualifies you to take on leadership roles that pay higher salaries and offer room to grow. Just as we did above, let’s look at some specific positions.

Social and community services manager salary

Community services managers make nearly $70,000 a year. Break this down by state and salaries can range even higher. In New York, expect to make nearly $90,000 in this position. In Montana, professionals see numbers in the low $60,000s.

School health educators

Health teachers in public or private schools make an average of $52,000. This number varies widely depending on where you live and whether you enter the role as a registered nurse. A health teacher in a metropolitan area like Washington, DC can make an average of $68,000.

Employee wellness coordinator salary

Corporate wellness coordinators can pull in higher salaries, even in entry-level positions. While the national average falls around $59,000 a year, a position with a New York company can increase that average to $64,000.

Director of volunteer services salary

Directors earn an average salary of about $72,000 a year according to Glassdoor.

Let’s take a quick look at some additional average salaries:

Will I make more with a master’s degree?

You should see a clear rise in salary between those with a high school diploma, bachelor’s, and master’s degree. On a general level, reports that professionals with a master’s earn between $63,000 to $68,000 a year. That’s a small—but notable—jump from what you can expect to earn with a bachelor’s ($62,000 to $67,000).

Perhaps most importantly, a master’s degree in public health offers more than a simple bump in pay. Your connections and experience open up positions with greater room for growth. You’ll have the opportunity to branch out into fields with higher salaries while highlighting the skills you developed in school.

Can I get my MPH in Community Health Education online?

Jumping into a full-time master’s program is difficult in any career. Working in community education is no easier. You likely already have a position or ongoing professional relationship with a school, company, or non-profit that turns to you for help.

These are just a handful of reasons why an online program makes a world of sense in this field. The best programs ensure the same community aspect you would experience on campus, but with the flexibility to learn on your own time.

Many schools also feature an off-campus practicum. You’ll earn credits by working in the field and immediately applying what you’ve learned through your school mentors. You may even be able to fulfill that practicum with your current employer.

Here are some additional perks to consider:

  • Build your class schedule around your current career
  • Collaborate with your professors one-on-one online
  • Eliminate the commute to campus
  • Prepare for the health education credentialing

University of Tennessee – Knoxville online community health masters program

The University of Tennessee – Knoxville offers a multidisciplinary program accredited by the Council of Education for Public Health. Its online Masters of Public Health allows students to complete all 42 credits online at their own part-time pace. This typically takes between two and three years.

Choosing a community health education focus at UTK allows students to focus on:

  • Quantitative and qualitative research skills
  • Social causes that lead to the spread of community disease
  • Strategies to reduce social inequities
  • Writing an industry-specific grant proposal

UTK stresses the importance of its practicum. Students link up with a local organization for nine weeks with the assistance of a school mentor. Most importantly, the curriculum prepares students to take the mandatory CHES certification exam upon graduation, setting them up to transition immediately to the professional world of public health.

It’s easy to assume that health care providers and politicians solely call the shots on public health. Community educators, however, work on the frontlines, identifying the day-to-day challenges that keep a community from meeting its health goals. An MPH in community health education prepares you to face these issues head-on with the confidence of a trained medical leader.

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About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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