Broaden your career with a Master of Public Health

Public Health

Global health challenges are increasing in number and complexity each year. Every country around the world is experiencing growth in its older population, along with new disease patterns. These circumstances have paved the way for the rise of chronic and degenerative diseases.

At the other end of the life cycle, there’s the non-communicable disease (NCD) burden among the younger people – they’re also on the rise. NCDs include conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular conditions and cancers. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 15 million people aged between 30 and 69 years prematurely die of NCDs each year. In fact, The Lancet tells us that NCDs are the leading cause of death worldwide.      

Public health plays a huge role in tackling these diseases – after all, it’s the science of creating good health. Drawing on evidence-based approaches, public health is not only about ensuring people live a full life, but also that they maintain quality of life. If we look at Australia’s recent history, most of us can remember a number of successful public health programs – from preventing dental decay, pioneering tobacco control, to reducing the incidence of skin cancer.

The rewards of such public health policies, programs and partnerships are immense. For instance, had it not been made mandatory to add folic acid to all wheat flour for bread making in Australia, we would not have been able to reduce neural tube defects in babies. While these results are positive for the community, it’s also a rewarding field to work in for those committed to helping others live healthier lives.

Could a Master of Public Health career suit you?

What do Master of Public Health Careers involve?

A Master of Public Health (MPH) will prepare you to respond to social, economic, political and environmental shifts. You’ll develop a deep understanding of the health needs that come along with demographic transition. VU’s Master of Public Health, is specifically designed so you can become a specialist in emergencies or development, both here in Australia and worldwide. You’ll be able to help create a healthy nation, and a healthy world.    

What avenues can you go down after completing a Master of Public Health? 

From preventing pandemics to bringing down the road toll, the career opportunities in public health are vast. And there’s a diverse range of career pathways. Here’s 5 Master of Public Health careers to consider.  


Epidemiologist overview

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic helped make epidemiologists household names. Suddenly these scientific experts stepped into the spotlight and took centre stage in countless media reports. As a deadly virus ripped through the globe, epidemiologists became the source of truth in the face of uncertainty. 

While Dr Fiona Stanley discovered the power of epidemiology some time ago, the rest of the world now sees epidemiologists as rock stars. 

Day to day responsibilities

Epidemiologists study how diseases occur across populations. They measure the impact of the disease and inform public policy decisions around aspects such as prevention. Their role is a bit like being a disease detective and stopping a cascading domino of sickness.  

Most epidemiologists follow pathways from biology, medicine and statistics into this growing field. They draw on markers, mathematical and biological models and scientific knowledge to stop a disease outbreak in its tracks.

Day-to-day, you can expect an epidemiologist to gather data using clinical trials to unearth how diseases originate and how they spread. Then, it’s their role to advise health practitioners, policymakers and the public on how best to treat it.

Salary expectations 

Many epidemiologists find employment in government health departments, hospitals and universities. And they can be expected to be paid handsomely. In Australia, epidemiologists can earn on average AU$91,563.

NGO Manager

NGO Manager overview

An NGO Manager heads up a non-government organisation, working with vulnerable and marginalised people. Protecting human rights and working to build sustainable community initiatives for health is often at the core of this role.

For instance, you could be working with an organisation such as Asha which is based in India. This would mean you could help provide lifesaving emergency care to around 700,000 slum dwellers across 91 slum colonies in Delhi. Or you might find yourself in an Australian based NGO like Family Planning NSW who provide access to quality reproductive and sexual health.    

Before embarking on a Master’s, generally, NGO Managers have completed a degree in management. Given that social, economic and political insight is required for jobs in this field, other qualifications that are seen as valuable pathways to this role include; social work, international relations, international development or public policy, and law.   

Day to day responsibilities

Working as an NGO Manager, you’ll be operating within a complex and dynamic environment – crossing cultures, managing public opinion and influencing government action. Your role will cover everything from advocacy and creating programs, to disseminating communications and fundraising.

Graduate jobs within the NGO sector are promising, with thousands of positions advertised each year. While securing a job in an NGO is competitive, there’s a number of organisations like Oxfam and Save the Children that offer entry level jobs. And once you’ve got your foot in the door, there’s hundreds of innovative and impactful NGOs you can work for, like, which has a unique, and daring solution to the world’s water crises.   

Salary expectations 

NGO Managers take home an average salary of AU$78,353.

Policy Advisor - Health

Policy Advisor - Health overview

Public health policies are designed to protect and promote wellbeing. For instance, the A-Z of infectious diseases descriptions, notification requirements and management listed on Victoria’s hub for health services and business is one such example.

As a health policy advisor, you’ll be responsible for creating strategies that set out wellbeing priorities – that could be providing solutions on anything from vaccination, to obesity, or breastfeeding.

The road to a policy adviser role may start with a qualification in social research and policy. A background in medical research, or health sciences can also be desirable, before embarking on your Master’s. 

Day to day responsibilities

In this leadership role, your key responsibilities will include identifying policy issues and advocacy opportunities. You’ll provide strategic advice on complex legal policy issues, and produce briefs and recommendations based on review and analysis. Once you present your findings to key stakeholders, you’ll then be charged with implementing policies, and monitoring, reviewing and evaluating their success.

Salary expectations 

By 2024, the projected job growth in health policy adviser roles are expected to go up by almost 11 per cent. And the good news is, as of now you can earn around AU$110,000 per year.

Public Health Researcher

Public Health Researcher overview

At the heart of a public health researcher’s role is data. You’ll be collecting and analysing key findings and identifying public health trends. This information will be used to inform decisions around exposure to various health risks.

For instance, you could be collecting information on infectious diseases such as rotavirus which, in 2013, killed 215,000 children under the age of five, worldwide. Or you may be looking at environmental risks such as the impact of poor air quality following Australia’s devastating bushfires in 2019-2020.  

While the key role of a public health researcher is to protect communities, it’s also about allowing health professionals to do their jobs more effectively based on evidence. 

To specialise in this field, you’ll need to hold a bachelor’s degree in public health before you complete your Master’s.

Day to day responsibilities

Day-to-day, a public health researcher may flit between investigating causes around community health threats, to researching solutions to these risks. As an officer in this role, you’ll also be expected to continually fine-tune your own research procedures. Often, you’ll also find yourself collaborating with epidemiologists. 

Salary expectations 

Right now, on employment site SEEK, you’ll find over 1000 jobs listed in public health research. And your take home pay on average will be around, AU$79,992.

Public Health Professional

Public Health Professional overview

At the heart of public health is a different approach to wellbeing known as salutogenesis – the creation and maintenance of good health. It’s the counterpart to pathogenesis which is the medical approach that aims to avoid disease. With a deep understanding of salutogenesis, you can improve the health and wellbeing of our community in a variety of professional roles.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, governments around Australia are hiring Public Health Officers to complement their existing efforts to control the virus. This holistic approach promotes health and wellbeing rather than just focusing on prevention of the virus. It’s a proven practice that’s been used extensively in public health programs, such as reducing smoking, preventing child injuries and eating healthy.

Another way to look at salutogenesis is that it helps build resilience in individuals and communities. Public health professionals educate and empower people to develop coping mechanisms which help to preserve their health despite stressful conditions.

Day to day responsibilities

With a Master of Public Health, you’ll develop the skills to recognise and identify the health supporting assets that exist inside the community you’re working with. More importantly, you’ll have the ability to harness and activate these resources throughout the community. In the end, it’s all about connecting people with the right tools to improve their quality of life.

Salary expectations 

Public health professionals work in a broad range of roles right across Australia – from capital cities to regional communities. While there’s no average salary, public health professionals can earn between $80,000 and $137,000.

How to get Master of Public Health jobs?

If you’re excited about finding solutions to global health issues and would like to work in this rewarding field, it’s a reason to study a Master of Public Health.

At VU, you’ll have the opportunity to experience what it’s really like working in public health through an industry partnership, which will take you straight into the heart of the community.

Learn more about VU Online’s Master of Public Health.