Public health officials represent an essential component of public service. These professionals work with private nonprofits and public agencies to ensure that populations stay safe and free of illness. The public health sector is especially strong in the state of Washington. Washington’s Department of Health is a national leader in public health, and the state is home to some of the most innovative and successful public health nonprofits in the world. For example, PATH and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which are both preeminent public health organizations, are headquartered in Seattle.
The public health field is projected to grow substantially in the near future. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that Washington will experience a 15% increase in its health educators and a 10% increase in its epidemiologists over the next three years. You can earn a master’s in public health online in Washington from many different programs, making it a great place to earn a degree and start a career in this field.
Washington is committed to the health, safety, and well-being of its residents and consistently sets new goals for its public health programs. For the last 20 years, the state’s Public Health Improvement Partnership, which is a collaboration between top public health experts, established initiatives to promote healthy lifestyles, protect people from disease, and ensure equal medical treatment. An essential component of the Public Health Improvement Partnership’s mission is constant revision and evaluation of the state’s public health programs. In 2012, the partnership began work on the Foundational Public Health Services (FPHS) program, which aims to modernize public health in Washington and bring care and education to more citizens. Through the FPHS program, Washington state is overhauling all facets of its public health services, including environmental public health; access to clinical care; and maternal, child, and family health.
Although both provide helpful work experiences to students, key differences exist between internships and fellowships. Internships can be paid or unpaid, are often available to undergraduates, and can sometimes be completed for academic credit. Alternatively, fellowships are almost always paid and typically aimed at graduate or post-graduate students. The list below details some internships and fellowships that may appeal to students at public health programs in Washington.
- Post-Bachelor Fellowship (PBF)
Offered through the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, this program gives MPH students the opportunity to work with faculty to complete high-level quantitative research projects. Fellows deepen their understanding of global public health issues and research.
- PATH Health Systems Analytics Internship
PATH is a nonprofit focused on global public health. This organization hires interns to conduct qualitative research to improve immunization programs. The internship is based out of PATH’s Seattle headquarters and lasts three months.
- Global Noncommunicable Diseases Initiative Internship
This internship at the Research Triangle Institute (RTI) provides graduate students with experience conducting research, analyzing data, and presenting findings in the global health field. The internship is taken for credit, and students can apply through RTI’s website.
- Fund for Global Health Internship
This internship can be completed remotely and gives students hands-on experience in advocacy and lobbying, which are important for ensuring good public health in the U.S. and abroad. The Fund for Global Health is headquartered in Seattle and focuses on supporting communities in developing countries.
- PATH Digital Health Internship
This intern helps the digital health team by creating manuals, tools, and best practice guides. Interns learn about project management in the public health industry.
As in any industry, the salaries of public health officials vary widely based on experience, education, and location. For example, community health educators, who typically have a high school diploma and maybe some college experience, earn a median pay of $35,000. Alternatively, epidemiologists usually earn more advanced degrees and take home $60,000 annually. In addition, epidemiologists in Washington earn considerably more than those in other parts of the country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the annual mean wage of epidemiologists in the state is $92,560
|Employment||Hourly Mean Wage||Annual Mean Wage|
Public Health Employers in Washington
It is important to conduct research regarding large employers before graduating with a degree in public health. The largest employers tend to have the most job openings and are good places for recent graduates to start their careers. The table below lists some of the largest public health employers in Washington.
|Employers||Number of Employees|
|U.S. Military (Civilians)||31,049|
|University of Washington||21,977|
|Washington Department of Health||1,810|
Public Health Research Centers in Washington
In addition, students earning an online MPH in Washington who want to follow a career in research should investigate the region’s most prominent research centers. Being aware of these facilities can be helpful during your job search.
- Health Promotion Research Center: This University of Washington research center is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and conducts research to improve the health and wellness of middle-aged and older adults.
- Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center: This research center’s public health sciences division fosters collaboration between public health experts from a variety of fields to determine the links between cancer and factors like diet, lifestyle, and the environment.
- Center for Genomics and Public Health: Operated by the University of Washington, the Center for Genomics and Public Health serves as a educational training and resource hub. This center provides assistance to organizations at the local, state, and regional level with regard to genomics and public health.
Public Health Professional Organizations in Washington
Workers in nearly every industry depend on professional organizations for career advancement, networking events, and annual conferences. Because the public health field is so research-centered, public health officials are especially likely to benefit from joining professional organizations. Conferences like the ones held by the Washington State Public Health Association and the Washington State Environmental Health Association allow public health professionals to share their findings and collaborate on advocacy efforts with their peers.
- Washington State Public Health Association: The Washington State Public Health Association brings together about 400 public health and medical professionals to improve the overall health and safety of Washingtonians. The association advocates for public health funding and hosts training sessions for public health workers.
- Society of Health and Physical Educators Washington: An affiliate of SHAPE America, this organization supports health educators through conferences and training workshops. Members gain access to the organization’s journal, which covers new public health legislation, provides lesson ideas, and recognizes achievements in health education.
- Washington State Environmental Health Association: This organization is comprised of professionals who focus on how the environment affects public health. Members receive discounts to the association’s conferences and can apply for annual awards and scholarships.
Without the extra steps required to become certified, public health graduates in Washington can enter the workforce faster than graduates in other states.
There are no nationwide licensing requirements for public health officials, although some states do enforce their own certification guidelines. However, Washington is not one of those states. Graduates of online MPH programs in Washington can begin practicing their careers as soon as they find employment; without the extra steps required to become certified, public health graduates in Washington can enter the workforce faster than graduates in other states. In addition, licensing fees can add up year after year, so graduates from public health programs in Washington save money in the long run.
However, some voluntary certifications are available for public health workers. These can help MPH graduates distinguish themselves from their peers and improve their job prospects. For example, MPH graduates can obtain a Certified in Public Health (CPH) designation, which is a national classification that indicates deep knowledge of the field.
When deciding between online MPH programs in Washington, it is essential to choose an accredited program. If a program has earned accreditation, it has successfully passed a rigorous academic evaluation verifying that its curriculum meets certain national standards. Choosing an accredited MPH program in Washington is an important step towards a successful career in the public health sector. A degree from an accredited school indicates to potential employers that you received a quality education.
Two general types of accreditation exist: national accreditation and regional accreditation. Regional accrediting bodies typically deal with traditional four-year colleges, while national bodies tend to work with vocational schools. The regional accrediting agency for Washington is the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Be sure to look out for accreditation from this organization, and from the Council for Education on Public Health, when choosing between online MPH programs in Washington.
- Bullit Environmental Fellowship
The Bullitt Foundation’s Environmental Fellowship is for graduate students in the Pacific Northwest who plan on pursuing careers in the environmental field.
Amount Offered: $50,000 per year
Scholarship Deadline: April 1
Eligibility Requirements: Applicant must be a graduate student studying in British Columbia, Washington state, or Oregon and demonstrate leadership ability.
- Cooley Scholarship
The Cooley Scholarship is offered through the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE), which is a national association for public health educators. The organization awards a scholarship each year to a student enrolled in a graduate health education program.
Amount Offered: $1,000
Scholarship Deadline: October 15
Eligibility Requirements: Applicant must be a health education master’s student at an accredited university and have a 3.0 GPA.
- ACMPE Scholarship Fund
The Medical Group Management Association has established a scholarship fund for students studying public health, healthcare administration, or any other field related to medical practice management.
Amount Offered: Varies
Scholarship Deadline: May 1
Eligibility Requirements: Applicant must be enrolled in a program relevant to medical practice management for the upcoming school year.
- HOSA Scholarships
HOSA-Future Health Professionals is an association for health students that offers an array of scholarship opportunities to its members. These scholarships support students in various health-related fields, including public health.
Amount Offered: Varies
Scholarship Deadline: March 15
Eligibility Requirements: Applicant must be a HOSA member.
- JCCs of North America Graduate Scholarship Program
This Jewish Community Center scholarship is for students enrolled in master’s programs in subjects that help fulfill the JCC’s mission of supporting the Jewish community. Degrees like public health and health education are accepted.
Amount Offered: $10,000 per year
Scholarship Deadline: Check here for details.
Eligibility Requirements: Applicant must be a Jewish student pursuing their first master’s degree full-time; they must also commit to working at a JCC for two years after graduation.
- Foster G. McGaw Graduate Student Fellowship
The American College of Healthcare executives established this scholarship to honor the memory of Foster G. McGaw, who was the founder of the American Hospital Supply Corporation. The scholarship supports graduate students enrolled in health-related programs and can be applied to tuition, room and board, and other costs.
Amount Offered: $5,000
Scholarship Deadline: March 31
Eligibility Requirements: Applicant must be enrolled in their final year of a health-related graduate program and demonstrate financial need.
- Patrick-Beresford Fellowship in Social Epidemiology
This scholarship is offered through the University of Washington’s School of Public Health and supports graduate students studying social epidemiology.
Amount Offered: $5,000
Scholarship Deadline: January 30
Eligibility Requirements: Applicant must be a student at the University of Washington’s School of Public Health engaged in the study of social epidemiology.
- Harry S. Truman Scholarship
Each year, this federal scholarship is awarded to outstanding college students committed to a career in public service. The scholarship is one of the most prestigious in the country and is only awarded to students who display above average leadership skills.
Amount Offered: $30,000
Scholarship Deadline: February 6
Eligibility Requirements: Applicant must be a college junior planning on pursuing a graduate degree in public service, including public health.
- School of Public Health Office of the Dean Master's Fellowships
Starting this year, the University of Washington’s School of Public Health is awarding up to six fellowships to incoming master’s degree students. These awards are intended for students with diverse backgrounds or for students committed to promoting diversity in the public health field.
Amount Offered: $10,000 per year
Scholarship Deadline: January 31
Eligibility Requirements: Applicant must be accepted to the University of Washington’s School of Public Health and demonstrate commitment to diversity in the field of public health.
- WorkCare Safety and Health Scholarship
This scholarship, funded by the American Society of Safety Engineers, is for graduate students pursuing a degree in occupational safety or another health-related field. Master’s in public health students are preferred.
Amount Offered: $5,000
Scholarship Deadline: December 1
Eligibility Requirements: Applicant must be a full-time graduate student studying in a health-related field and have a 3.5 GPA.