What You Can Do With a Health Science Degree

There are numerous job options, including dietitian, mental health counselor and respiratory therapist.

Article By: Sammy Allen

Blog Source From : https://www.usnews.com/

The list of careers afforded by getting a health science degree is lengthy, and it’s growing with new technology. Jobs in this field are expected to increase 13% by 2031, more than twice the average job growth rate across all employment sectors, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Here’s what you should know if you’re thinking about studying health science, also called health sciences, in college.

What Is Health Science?

Health science is a broad discipline that touches on principles of basic sciences such as chemistry, physics, biology and microbiology.

Someone interested in health problems and outcomes, and how they are connected to the natural and behavioral sciences, may decide to pursue a degree in health science. Academic programs typically include lab courses as well as classes covering topics related to sociology, psychology, epidemiology, exercise science, communicable diseases and public health.

Read: What You Can Do With a Public Health Degree

Health science degrees “are giving you the foundation you need to enter graduate programs, professional health programs and research,“ says Kendricks Hooker, provost at Cabarrus College of Health Sciences in North Carolina.

Health care is increasingly reliant on technology, creating more career opportunities for people with a health science degree, experts say.

“It’s an ever-growing job market,” Hooker says. “There are more health informatics programs and more digital health (programs) being developed. Given the cost of being in the hospital and clinic visits, you are seeing more programs that are creating a pipeline of talent to assist with home health.”

He adds that many health science academic programs are designed to allow faster completion, with some certificate programs as short as eight or 16 weeks. Accelerated degree programs can be completed in two years.

“They are being abbreviated to help with the shortages of health care workers,” he says. “That does not mean the rigor and expectations have changed. It requires the students to be more focused because they are learning the same amount of information in a condensed period.”

Jobs in Health Science

“There are some entry- level positions with health science degrees, but usually these students are looking at going into medicine, allied health professions and graduate school,” says Hooker. “Some are not so extensive, but they serve as a stepping stone.”

Many colleges offer master’s and doctoral degrees in health science fields, such as a master’s of science in health and human performance at Canisius College in New York and a doctor of health science at the University of Indianapolis in Indiana. Advanced degrees open doors to more career paths, particularly in research and academia, and often higher salaries.

According to PayScale, the average annual base pay for someone with a bachelor’s degree in health sciences is $67,000, up from $63,000 in 2020. Some jobs in the health sciences require passage of a national licensing exam.

Below are some common jobs for people with a bachelor’s degree in health sciences, along with median annual salaries as of May 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Community Health Worker

Devises strategies to improve individual and community well-being and teaches people how to develop habits that encourage wellness; $48,400.

Dietitian or Nutritionist

Helps people understand nutrition and how to use food to promote a healthy lifestyle and prevent disease; $61,650. 

Health Care Social Worker

Helps individuals, families or groups find needed health resources, works to help resolve problems in the health care sphere, and sometimes responds to crisis situations; $60,840. 

Health Education Specialist

Talks with people in specific populations about health concerns, collects data to help create strategies for wellness and interacts with social service organizations and health care providers to advocate for people’s needs; $60,600.

Mental Health Counselor

Advises people regarding issues such as substance abuse and depression and provides preventative and other support to help people recover from addictions or change problematic behaviors; $48,520.

Respiratory Therapist

Works with patients who have asthma or other chronic breathing problems; $61,830.

Sterile Processing Technician

Maintains the cleanliness of surgical and other medical equipment to ensure patient safety and prepares surgical units for scheduled and emergency operations; $37,440.

Read: The Best Health Care Jobs That Don’t Require Medical School.

What to Consider Before Studying Health Science

Taylor Simone Mathis, who will begin earning a master of public health degree in epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Public Health in fall 2023, says she chose a health science career path after much thought.

“I had a fantastic experience with Statistics in high school,” she wrote in an email. “I really enjoyed it and I was good at it, so I decided to pursue it in college. As I was going through my coursework in college, I really gravitated toward the applied courses as opposed to the theoretical courses. When I was younger I thought about being a doctor briefly, but the long hours and longer school trajectory weren’t for me. I was still interested in health sciences, just not necessarily the pre-med track. The field of epidemiology, particularly infectious disease epidemiology provided me with an opportunity to apply math and statistics to health sciences, which was really the best of both worlds for me.”

Derrick C. Scott, dean of Virginia State University’s College of Natural and Health Sciences, says the historically Black college’s health science program is collaborative, interdisciplinary and prepares students for careers in fields related to biology, chemistry, nursing and psychology.

“We are going into communities to help with vaccinations, addiction and mental health awareness,” he says. “We are doing a project right now between psychology, public health and the local county department health where people are able to come and get help whether they are students, citizens of the local community or throughout the county.”

There is growing interest in studying the social determinants of health, says Doris Rubio, who directs the Institute for Clinical Research Education at Pitt.

Read: Social Determinants of Health – What Premeds Should Know

“Having all the different disciplines come together can tackle these big problems more effectively,” she says. “If you have a social worker working with a physician working with a nurse, one of them is going to look at the issue of homelessness and its impact on health with a different lens. Together they can address the systemic problem.”

Rubio, who began her career as a social worker, says cross-disciplinary collaboration is one of the most prominent changes she has seen over the last 20-plus years in health science as an academic field.

In recent years, greater interest in health-related research has opened up additional career opportunities for health science degree recipients, some experts say.

Given the widening range of job opportunities, health science students should not limit themselves to a career choice early on, Mathis says.

“If you didn’t like chemistry or weren’t too good at physics in the past or even in your first year, you shouldn’t count yourself out of the health sciences field,” she says. “A lot of universities have general education requirements, and you should use those classes to find something you are really passionate about. It doesn’t have to be a hard science like biology, but maybe you will find your niche in psychology or nutrition. Health sciences is very broad, and if you have any interest in it at all, college is the perfect time to explore that.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *