The Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) is a terminal professional degree created for those who want to lead in the field of public health. Often, DrPH degree holders have a clinical background and want to move into a research-related field in order to help improve overall community health. Their goal is to conduct research, provide education, communicate risk factors, and be health protectors. Some of the positions available to DrPH degree holders are outlined below.
Epidemiologists are responsible for the study of patterns that could lead to injuries and diseases occurring. Their goal is to lower these risk factors by driving policy and creating educational programs.
Key tasks of an epidemiologist at DrPH level are:
- To perform scientific research on issues facing public health in an effort to prevent them, or if not, treat them.
- To collect and analyze data through surveys, tissue samples, interviews, and observations
- To communicate findings to relevant parties
- To drive new educational programs in the community
Epidemiologists do not require a doctorate degree but those that do, however, can become employed in research fields.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for a doctoral-trained epidemiologist was $99,560 as of May 2016.
#2 International HIV Specialist
These specialists work with HIV-infected patients to increase their quality of life. They also work on stopping the spread of the disease, protecting the general public. They usually work in hospitals or clinics, often in areas of the world where HIV continues to be endemic.
Typical job duties of an international HIV specialist are:
- To collect data on HIV within certain population groups.
- To identify and address risk factors.
- To review and improve existing prevention programs and policies.
- To educate people about HIV infections.
- To create educational resources about HIV prevention.
According to NEJM Journal Watch, around 20% of HIV specialists earn a median annual salary of $174,750.
#3 Public Health Dentist
Public health dentists focus on the oral health of entire communities. Many continue to provide dental care, although their focus is more on providing consultancy services, driving policy, and educating the public. They can be employed in public health departments, clinics, health centers, and universities.
Typical duties of a public health dentist are:
- To identify current community trends and needs with regards to oral health to identify areas for improvement
- To create new policies to improve oral health
- To implement, monitor, and review policies
- To create new services and programs to improve overall oral health in the community, including education programs, reduced cost programs, and so on
According to the Springer Publishing Company, public health dentists can expect to earn between $50,000 and $200,000 per year.
#4 Corporate Medical Director
Corporate medical directors strive to prevent the spread of illnesses in corporations. They work in offices and factories alike, focusing on areas, such as injury prevention, air quality, and more.
Typical duties of a corporate medical director are:
- To hold meetings about workplace safety
- To write and present reports on risk factors
- To work hand in hand with factory and office designers with a focus on stopping the spread of disease
According to Salary.com, a medical director can expect to earn a median annual salary of $263,742.
#5 Public Health Physician
Public health physicians are responsible for making sure that all members of the community have access to high quality medical care. They generally work for government agencies, universities, public health facilities, and hospitals. Around half of their job is office based, while the other half is clinical in nature.
Typical job responsibilities are:
- Conducting research on barriers to access
- Teaching public health classes
- Creating, implementing, monitoring, and reviewing programs for improved access to health
- Diagnosing illnesses
- Engaging in preventative medicine
Salaries vary widely depending on geographical location.
#6 Tropical Disease Specialist
A tropical disease specialist puts measures in place to stop tropical diseases from spreading in this country. These diseases are generally highly infectious and because travel to tropical countries is now highly accessible, the role of a tropical disease specialist is becoming increasingly important. Typically, they work with people who present with symptoms of a tropical illness in a clinical function, although many also work in laboratories to better understand and study these diseases.
Typical duties for a tropical disease specialist are:
- To diagnose tropical diseases
- To create treatment plans and oversee them
- To identify outbreaks or risks of outbreaks, and help prevent their occurrence
- To create rapid response teams in case of suspected outbreaks
- To conduct specialized tests and experiments to better understand diseases
- To consult on potential travel risks
According to Careers in Public Health, salary expectations for a tropical disease specialist range from $38,000 to $77,000 per year.
#7 Public Health Veterinarian
Public health veterinarians usually work with local and federal government agencies, legislators, and hospitals in order to prevent both animal and human illnesses. These specialists work in outdoor environments, but equally in offices and laboratories.
Typical duties of a public health veterinarian are:
- To research existing diseases
- To work as a pathologist
- To examine epidemics
- To consult with the public about health risks associated with animal diseases, including West Nile virus, Ebola, malaria, and rabies
- To work with processing plants and farms to ensure any animal-derive products do not pose a threat to public health
According to the BLS, the median annual salary for a veterinarian was $98,770 as of 2016.
#8 Bioterrorism Researcher
Bioterrorism researchers work in government agencies to study the chances of bioterrorism occurring, and if it does, in what form. They also develop response methods and treatments for potential attacks. Furthermore, they analyze the potential toxins that may be used in bioterrorism attacks. They usually work in laboratories for major federal health organizations, although some find employment in universities or private laboratories.
Day to day duties of a bioterrorism researcher include:
- Collecting and analyzing data to determine which risk areas exist in the community in relation to bioterrorism
- Developing plans to improve and enhance public safety
- Collecting samples of agents that may be used in attacks and reviewing these in the lab
- Developing community response strategies should a bioterrorism attack occur
- Developing detection procedures to safeguard against attacks
Salaries vary tremendously, as explained by the Medical Research Council.
#9 Vaccine Researcher
Vaccine researchers can have a background in a variety of fields, including being a clinical lab technician, microbiologist, medical scientist, or medical doctor. Their goal is to research the effectiveness of current vaccines and to improve them whenever relevant, and to develop new vaccines in response to emerging illnesses. They generally work in a laboratory environment, either for government agencies or for the pharmaceutical industry.
Common duties of the vaccine researcher are:
- To research existing vaccines with an aim to improve them
- To understand the risk of outbreaks
- To develop programs for vaccine delivery in case of an outbreak
- To develop new vaccines
- To understand side effects and safety of vaccines
- To create medical textbooks
- To consult on vaccine-relate issues for public health officials
- To present data and findings at global health conferences
According to the Springer Publishing Company, a vaccine researcher can expect to earn around $73,000 per year.
#10 Outcomes Researcher
Outcomes researchers are responsible for determining whether healthcare programs and practices have been or are effective. They look at the effects of treatments on the quality of life of patients and collect data to present to stakeholders and boards of healthcare facilities. They usually work in public health offices and large hospitals, mainly working on computers in which they analyze available data.
Typical duties of an outcomes researcher are:
- To perform statistical narratives and surveys to collect population data
- To compare goals of the practice and programs to the outcomes
- To review healthcare interventions and programs with the goal of improving on them
- To determine how efficient is the public health provision
- To present findings and develop solutions for improved outcomes
Salaries vary greatly depending on place of employment.
As you can see, earning a DrPH can open up a wealth of career opportunities. The degree is particularly popular with those who already have a medical background, such as physicians, doctors, and veterinarians. However, some universities also accept those who have an MPH (Master of Public Health) background, although this does change the scope of the available positions to a certain degree.
- Mailman School of Public Health – Facts and Figures. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.mailman.columbia.edu/become-student/career-services/facts-and-figures
- DrPH Degree Frequently Asked Questions. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/prospective-students/drph-frequently-asked-questions/