A Career in Public Health Communication

Whether it’s creating campaigns for health care initiatives, using social media to target specific audiences or raising awareness for public health concerns, health communication professionals leverage marketing strategies to enhance the well-being of people around the globe through information.    

By pursuing a Master of Public Health (MPH), you can choose to specialize in health communication and address the need for strong communicators with leadership skills and marketing expertise to drive health care initiatives at the local, national and global levels.

What Is Health Communication?

Understanding why health communication is important will help aspiring public health professionals decide in which branch of health care to seek employment. Health communication professionals actively engage individuals and communities to spread awareness and promote prevention and wellness. Through the use of new technologies and marketing tools, health communication professionals work collaboratively with a broad range of other public health experts to help people make sound health decisions and effectively manage their health behaviors.

Professionals with health communication jobs perform these occupational functions:

  • Create and evaluate marketing programs and products that aim to improve the health of communities by identifying unhealthy habits and proposing healthy alternatives .
  • Implement or supervise the implementation of the communication and marketing components of public health initiatives.
  • Learn to create campaigns that leverage digital tools such as social media, gamification and app design. 
  • Initiate market research studies and analyze their findings to understand opportunities for improving health on a wide scale.
  • Direct the hiring of advertising, promotions and marketing staff, and oversee their daily activities.

How Do I Become a Health Communication Professional? 

Health communication professionals and specialists often find unique paths into the field, but earning a bachelor’s degree in health communication is the primary method of entry. Those with a bachelor’s in marketing, advertising, public relations or journalism also have many of the prerequisite skills necessary to become eligible for health communication jobs.  

A master's in public health from an accredited school of public health, like the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University, is essential to most senior health communication jobs. Many jobs also require years of experience in either health care or marketing.

Where Do Health Communication Professionals Work?

Professionals with health communication jobs may work closely with the media, responding to stories on health, communicating risk and confirming or rectifying stories. They may also design campaigns regarding school-based health initiatives, anti-tobacco programs, violence prevention and health disparities in historically underrepresented populations. 

Health communication professionals may work in settings such as:

  • Private consulting firms
  • Research institutes
  • Wellness centers
  • Large government agencies
  • Public media organizations

Why Become a Health Communication Professional? 

Aspiring public health professionals fascinated by the idea of spreading awareness, analyzing market research and creating campaigns to improve the health of populations around the world may be interested in specializing in health communication.

Despite the abundance of health information that is easily accessible online, misinformation and false popular opinion can often result in unnecessary harm to the public’s health. The health communication field is important because it steers populations toward accurate and beneficial health information. 

Specializing in a sector of public health, like health communication, presents a wide number of possibilities for employment because every branch of health care can be supported by expert communication professionals.

Health communication professionals can find employment advocating and spreading information for many sectors of health care, such as:

  • Environmental and occupational health
  • Epidemiology and public health research methods
  • Global health
  • Health policy
  • Program planning and evaluation  

Growth and Salary Outlook for Health Communication Jobs

For professionals looking to enter the health care industry, the future is bright. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, all health care occupations are projected to grow 14 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 1.9 million new jobs.1

Fortunately, aspiring health communication professionals can also expect growth in their specific occupational sector. Overall employment of advertising, promotions and marketing managers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will vary by occupation setting.

The median annual wage for marketing managers was $134,290 in May 2018. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $69,840, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000. 2

Learn More About MPH@GW

Located in Washington, D.C., the nation’s hub of health policy, the George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health is the No. 12 public health school in the country.3

MPH@GW offers students part-time or full-time completion tracks with an option to earn your degree online in as little as 12 months. Students also have the opportunity to tailor their curriculum and concentrate their electives in public health disciplines such as health communication. 

Fully accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), MPH@GW enables students to advance their public health career online from a top-ranked school without relocating.