Careers in Public Health

Public Health Experts in Demand

A public health degree has never been more valuable than it is today.

Federal and state governments continue to pursue massive reform of health care. Public health leaders and people across the health care system are increasingly asking questions, and looking for answers, about health inequities. Everyone is grappling to understand a deluge of health care and public health data. And Baby Boomers continue to age.

The result is a spike in demand for public health experts — at the same time as tens of thousands of public health workers are getting ready for retirement. The upshot for students pursuing public health degrees: your expertise and talents are in high demand.

Consider this:

  • A survey of the employment market that the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health commissioned found that demand for masters-level public health professionals in the Western United States grew 66 percent from the first half of 2013 to the last half of 2016. Demand for masters-level public health professionals grew 60 percent nationwide.
  • Similar surveys commissioned by the School of Public Health found demand for bachelor’s-level public health professionals increased 38 percent in the West over those four years, and 48 percent nationally, and found demand for doctorate-level public health professionals increased 15 percent in the West, and 23 percent nationally.
  • The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that employment in all health care occupations — including public health positions — will grow 19 percent from 2014 to 2024. The bureau estimates more jobs will be added in the public health and health care sector than any other industry during that period. By 2024, the sector will account for 14 percent of all jobs.

And this surge in jobs will happen as more and more Baby Boom-aged public health workers retire. One national survey found in 2015 that 38 percent of the public health workers at state agencies across the U.S. were planning to leave the profession by 2020, 25 percent of them because of retirement.

We already know how successful our graduates are. Our alumni surveys show that a year after graduation, 96 percent of our Master of Public Health graduates are either working or continuing their education.

All of the stats underline the value of a public health degree from the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health. But that value is deeper than employment stats. Yes, the degree prepares students for a workforce where their talents will be in demand. But it also empowers students with the skills and expertise that will help them become the public health leaders of tomorrow.