What Can You Do With an MPH in Veterinary Public Health?
January 20, 2022
What is inspiring a significant influx of MPH applicants? If 2020 proved anything, it is the dire importance of trained public health officers—particularly those with a veterinarian background.
The COVID-19 pandemic transformed the way we view the public health profession. These experts on the frontlines worked to control the virus, communicate with the public, and call out social disparities that worsened its effects. Throughout the year-plus contagion, a previously little-noticed field moved to center stage.
According to many educators and health officials, a large portion of recent MPH applicants sees this career path as a social justice calling. Earning an MPH in Veterinary Health prepares students to attack some of today's most pressing medical and societal needs.
Think back over the past decade. Zoonotic disease (i.e., diseases that pass from animals to humans), food safety scares, and community health education all worked their way into headlines regularly. The line between animal and human wellness has narrowed significantly—-with at least 60 percent of infectious diseases now considered zoonotic. Veterinary health officials are specially equipped to face these new challenges head-on.
But what can you do with an MPH in Veterinary Medicine after graduation? While this degree specialization may sound extraordinarily niche, it actually covers a variety of job titles.
As the CDC points out, public health veterinarians tackle everything from infectious disease to bioterrorism. They take on environmental challenges that impact food production, migration, and animal safety.
This points to a range of job opportunities and career paths for veterinary health MPH graduates. So, what can you do with an MPH in Veterinary Public Health? We'll dive into this topic by answering a few FAQs on the subject:
- What do veterinary public health officials do?
- How much do veterinary public health officials make?
- Will I make more with a master's degree?
- Can I get my MPH in Veterinary Public Health online?
- Is an MPH in Veterinary Public Health right for me?
What do veterinary public health officials do?
Veterinary public health officials stand at the meeting place between human health and animal life. They understand that vigilance, awareness, and good science can protect society from zoonosis.
But their role goes far beyond disease control. The combination of veterinary training with the education of a public health professional results in a well-rounded expert in communication, policy, and strategy required to prevent another pandemic.
Where do MPH graduates work?
Let's start by taking a look at the role of the trained public health official, particularly professionals with an MPH. They must identify and communicate health risks with public officials, the healthcare community, and most importantly, the general public.
It's important to note that we're talking about everything from viruses to food insecurity. Public health experts work in both the public and private sectors to ensure today's complex social systems serve their people equitably.
Professionals with an MPH work in a long list of multi-faceted areas. Some of the most common specialties, however, include:
- Community health education
- Food insecurity and disparities
- Food safety
- Infectious disease prevention
- Health services
- Healthcare access
- Maternal and child health
- Public health policy
As for specific careers, you'll find job titles that focus on research, education, government affairs, environmental science, and of course, medical services and epidemiology.
How about an MPH with a specialty in veterinary medicine?
Take a look at the topics above and note how many depend on a safe and healthy planet. When you add veterinary expertise to the mix, these topics broaden to include a more extensive scope of study and career opportunities.
Veterinary public health jobs address what is known as the "One Health," concept, which stresses the interconnectedness of life on our planet. You'll spot this term used in many of today's top degree programs and their curriculum and by the CDC.
"One Health" specialists are hired by government agencies and private sector companies to manage:
- Animal control and safety
- Animal food production
- Disaster preparedness
- Environmental health
- Epidemiology from an animal disease perspective
- Risk communication
- Zoonotic disease
Where do veterinarians with an MPH work?
The MPH is ideal for two groups. According to the Iowa College of Public Health, the first group consists of practicing veterinarians looking to shift into a public health career or become board certified in Veterinary Preventive Medicine.
The second group is made up of students who earn an MPH and DVM simultaneously. These students either choose to become veterinarians or pursue the public health career track. In either case, students then branch off to either the public or private sectors.
Public sector jobs with an MPH in Veterinary Health
Trained professionals find job postings on the local, national, and global level with major organizations that include:
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
- Department of Agriculture
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- Heifer Project International
- Pan American Health Organization
- State health departments
- USDA Food Safety Inspection Service
- US Military
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- Veterinarians Without Borders
The University of Tennessee - Knoxville points out that the USDA—the largest public employer in the US of veterinarians—will see a massive influx of open positions in the next few years.
Private sector jobs with an MPH in Veterinary Health
In the private sector, look to pharmaceutical companiess. Independent food companies utilize MPH grads to maintain safety standards for production.
Graduates may also find more specialized roles within larger animal health companies conducting research and public education initiatives.
How much do veterinary public health officials make?
Professionals who specialize in veterinary medicine and public health earn enviable salaries, depending on where they work. Glassdoor lists the average salary of a public health veterinarian as about $92,800. Specific jobs at the US Department of Agriculture include mid- and supervisor-level positions around this pay zone.
Salaries vary based on your role, the type of company or organization, and where you live. Work in an area with a higher cost of living, such as Los Angeles, and you might make $100,000 a year.
If we break this down into more specific roles, you'll find that veterinarian epidemiologists make an average of about $63,000 a year, with higher-paying cities reaching the high $70,000s. These numbers line up with the standard MPH salaries in non-veterinary fields.
Will I make more with a master's degree?
ZipRecruiter specifies that the average salary of those with a master's in public health hovers around $74,000 nationwide. The higher-paid positions that we listed above typically require advanced degrees to provide that competitive edge.
Biostatistician careers, for example, typically require advanced training or a master's degree, particularly if you're eyeing a highly specialized role in veterinarian health. These jobs pay an average of approximately $124,000 per year, according to Glassdoor.
The most crucial link between a master's and salary is choice—particularly in the medical field. Training both in the public and veterinary health world opens up career paths across the board.
Can I get my MPH in Veterinary Public Health online?
You will find dual DVM/MPH programs and veterinarian MPH programs offered online by select universities. The University of Texas at Knoxville offers an excellent example. Students enrolled in a DVM or graduate veterinarian program are eligible for this online concentration, as are licensed veterinary medical technicians.
Curricula typically cover:
- Animal health
- Environmental health
- Food systems
- Health policy and leadership
- Human wellness
- Research and program evaluation
In addition to virtual coursework, students in the UTK program must complete 240 hours in an applied practice experience to demonstrate their skills directly in the real world as they study.
Combined DVM/MPH programs are quite common. Universities allow students to overlap coursework in the two departments and complete both degrees in just four or five years. The University of Minnesota's degree offers this degree online and allows students to combine experience from the two programs alongside relevant fieldwork.
During a three-week on-campus workshop, students have the opportunity to collaborate with their peers. With most of the courses online, this represents a crucial chance to address such a hands-on topic.
Is an MPH in Veterinary Public Health right for me?
A master's degree can open doors in unique areas of your field. Not only can an MPH in Veterinary Public Health unlock higher salaries in some jobs but it also may help you answer the call of a greater social purpose.
Students and professionals with a background in animal health can expand their reach with this highly specialized and yet highly in-demand skill set.
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