Public Administration & Policy

Masters in Health Communications Jobs

Masters in Health Communications Jobs
You will need to understand medical and healthcare terminology and be able to communicate it to laypeople. You may even need to condense critical and complex information into Twitter-size chunks. Image from Unsplash
Lucien Formichella profile
Lucien Formichella June 26, 2020

Earning a master's in health communication can lead to a six-figure salary. Thanks to the proliferation of online degrees, you may not even need to leave your current job to earn one.

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Earning a master’s in health communications can prepare you for a high-paying career in the healthcare or communications industry. It trains students to analyze and talk about health issues accurately and effectively, whether they work for government agencies, non-profits, or private companies.

Read on to learn about some of the masters in health communications jobs currently available. This article answers the following questions:

  • What is a master’s in health communications?
  • Who earns a master’s in health communications?
  • What are the best master’s in health communications programs?
  • What can you do with a master’s in health communications?

What is a master’s in health communications?

A master’s degree in health communication, as its name indicates, prepares you for a career in health communications. That’s simple enough; the field it covers, on the other hand, is quite complex. You will need to understand medical and healthcare terminology and be able to communicate it to laypeople. You may even need to condense critical and complex information into Twitter-size chunks.

Simply put, you will need to be able to speak and translate doctor. You’ll be responsible for making sure critical guidance is disseminated widely and clearly without inducing mass panic. It’s a job that requires a broad skill set.

A master’s in health communications covers a lot of ground. Programs focus on a wide array of subjects, including:

  • Advocacy and communication
  • Computer skills for healthcare
  • Digital media
  • Health literacy
  • Marketing
  • Policy design and evaluation
  • Public relations
  • Social media

Who earns a master’s in health communications?

To qualify for a master’s in health communications, you first need a bachelor’s degree—and, of course, superior communication skills. Most programs do not require a specific degree. An undergraduate diploma in public health, communications, English, or even a hard science like biology could serve you well. Many programs look for candidates with relevant work experience. The typical applicant has at least two years of experience in healthcare, communication, or health communication.

Earning a master’s degree is a significant undertaking. Full-time programs usually take two years or less, while a part-time program can take up to five. Part-time programs may be less intensive, but that doesn’t mean that you get to sit on your couch and drink Miller High Lifes out of a beer hat. These programs, as well as online or hybrid (part online and part on-campus) programs, are often designed for those with work and family commitments.

Northwestern University, for example, schedules its health communications masters classes on Saturdays. The program is designed for active communications pros who want to advance by becoming “a more effective professional with each passing week.” Does it work? According to the school’s website, “on average, 40 percent of students receive a promotion or start a new role before they graduate.”

What are the best master’s in health communications programs?

Earning a master’s in health communications is a great way to advance your career. Which program is the best? Attending a top school can have massive benefits, including a pay increase that you won’t get from a run-of-the-mill graduate degree.

Most health communications programs are offered through universities’ schools of public health. According to US News & World Report, the top public health programs that offer a health communications master’s degree include:

  • Boston University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • New York University
  • Northwestern University
  • University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign
  • University of Missouri – Columbia

You may also decide to earn a Master in Public Health (MPH) with a concentration in health communication. If you pursue this option, you’ll likely study:

  • Disease prevention
  • Global health
  • Health administration
  • Health disparities among populations

MPH programs offering a health communications concentration include:

  • Colorado State University – Fort Collins
  • George Washington University
  • Harvard University
  • Tufts University
  • Tulane University of Louisiana

You may also decide to earn a certificate in health communication—these programs often have fewer credit requirements than a traditional master’s program. Boston University’s MPH Functional Certificate: Health Communication and Promotion requires only 16 credits, while the University of Illinois has a 12-credit program.

What can you do with a master’s in health communications?

The jobs that you can get will depend on the kind of degree that you have. For instance, Missouri University’s program is a Master of Arts in journalism focusing on health communication. That means that graduates are prepared for careers in journalism and media relations in the health sector. A degree from Boston University, on the other hand, better prepares you to work in marketing and distribution.

Other jobs open to those with a master’s in health communication include:

  • Advertising, promotion, and marketing managers: Oversee advertising and marketing efforts to promote healthcare services or products. They develop strategies, manage campaigns, and work with sales teams to increase awareness and drive consumer engagement.
  • Communications manager: Responsible for managing all internal and external communications for a healthcare organization, ensuring its message is consistent and engaging. They oversee public relations, media relations, and communication strategies.
  • Communications specialist: Develops and implements communication strategies to effectively convey the healthcare organization’s messages across various channels. They write press releases, manage social media accounts, and support public relations activities.
  • Evaluation specialist: Focuses on assessing the effectiveness of communication campaigns and health programs. They analyze data, report on outcomes, and provide insights to improve future health communication strategies.
  • Grants officer: Identifies, applies for, and manages grants for healthcare projects. They write proposals, manage funding relationships, and ensure compliance with grant conditions, focusing on securing financial support for health initiatives.
  • Health communications specialist: Specializes in creating and delivering health education and promotion messages. They develop materials and campaigns to inform the public about health issues, preventive measures, and healthy behaviors.
  • Health educators and community health workers: Work directly with communities and individuals to promote wellness and healthy lifestyles. They develop and implement strategies to improve health knowledge and behaviors.
  • Health insurance public relations manager: Manages communication efforts for a health insurance company, focusing on maintaining a positive public image, managing media relations, and communicating policy changes to customers.
  • Medical and health services managers: Also known as healthcare executives or healthcare administrators, they plan, direct, and coordinate medical and health services in hospitals, clinics, managed care organizations, public health agencies, or similar organizations.
  • Medical editor: Reviews and edits medical documents for accuracy, clarity, and consistency. They work on a range of materials, including research articles, clinical reports, and educational materials.
  • Medical writer: Specializes in creating clear and concise documents that communicate medical information, such as clinical study reports, research findings, and drug information. They ensure content is accessible to both medical professionals and the general public.
  • Operations program manager: Oversees the development and implementation of healthcare programs. They manage program budgets, operations, and staff to ensure healthcare services are delivered effectively and efficiently.
  • Patient engagement specialist: Focuses on developing strategies and programs to enhance patient involvement in their own healthcare. They work on improving patient communication, satisfaction, and adherence to treatment plans.

What are the top jobs in health communications?

Not all health communication jobs pay the same. For instance, a health educator earns a median annual wage of just under $55,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That’s not bad, but it might not be what you hoped for when you invested thousands of dollars in a master’s degree. Northwestern reports that 46 percent of graduates get promoted or find new employment within one year of graduating, at an average pay increase of 14 percent.

Here are some of the best-paying jobs that you can get with a master’s in health communications.

Advertising, promotion, and marketing managers

Medical advertising is big business; think of all the pharmaceutical ads you see whenever you watch broadcast television. As an advertising, promotion, and marketing manager, you might develop a giant cartoon booger for a 30-second commercial to illustrate how a product gets rid of mucus. Fulfilling and fun! In 2019, advertising, promotion, and marketing managers earned a median income of just under $136,000.

Medical and health services manager

Healthcare is a business; medical and health services managers are in charge of making it run. Their job duties include creating and overseeing budgets, hiring and firing, and ensuring that care is administered properly. Medical health and services managers work not only in hospitals but also in outpatient centers, nursing homes, and government agencies. The median pay for these professionals was $100,980 in 2019, according to the BLS. Alternatives to this job title include healthcare executive and healthcare administrator.

Healthcare program director

Healthcare program directors usually focus on a single department in large healthcare organizations. Program directors oversee care administration and regulatory compliance. They also might have a hand in budgeting. According to PayScale, healthcare program directors earn an average annual salary of just under $81,000 per year.

Medical writer

Medical writers earn an average annual salary of nearly $72,000, according to PayScale. Some are medical journalists, but most write educational and training materials for healthcare companies. The job also involves conducting research.

(Updated on February 21, 2024)

(Last Updated on February 26, 2024)

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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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