Public Safety Administration vs Public Health: Career ROI

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Updated: March 15, 2024, Reading time: 10 minutes

Public Safety Administration vs Public Health - featured image

Giving back to the community is one of the ultimate goals for many students, which is why they decide to pursue a degree that directly impacts society. Public Safety Administration and Public Health are two common fields that attract individuals with this goal. Each field plays a crucial role in ensuring the well-being of communities.

Although these fields are both tied to the principles of social services and social work, they have varying approaches to servicing the public. Public Safety Administration focuses on developing skills for public safety structures, while Public Health promotes and protects community health. 

Because these degrees differ in focus, they’ll also have differences in training, career paths, certifications, and average salaries. You’ll learn their key differences as we go further into this article. 

A Quick Look At the Differences Between Public Safety Administration and Public Health

Essentially, a Public Safety Administration career is for those who want to focus more on immediate response to emergencies and maintaining order, while Public Health is designed for those who are more concerned with the health and wellness of the community.

Public Safety AdministrationPublic Health
Average Salaries$60,628$79,657
Job Growth 2022-2032little or no changefaster than the average for all occupations
Focus and ScopeEnsuring public safety and security, including emergency response, law enforcement, and disaster management.Promoting and protecting community health through disease prevention, health promotion, and creating healthy environments.
Education RequiredBachelor’s degree in Public Safety Administration, with options for specialization and advancement through graduate studies.Bachelor’s degree in Public Health and MPH for career advancement

What Does a Public Safety Administrator Do?

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Public Safety Administration is the division of public service responsible for guaranteeing public safety and security. This field includes a variety of tasks and operations meant to avoid and handle emergencies, uphold the law, and enhance community welfare. It attracts students pursuing careers in administrative, leadership, financial, or incident management. 

As a public safety administrator, you will be called regularly to plan for the extreme. You can work toward the health, well-being, and safety from natural disasters or hazardous events within the community. Becoming a public safety administrator is not easy—you will not be restricted within one aspect of the community, which means you need to be flexible and adaptable.

Public safety administrators are well-informed about the contemporary practices of public safety management, including theories and practices involving issues of emergency and risk management. Your primary tasks will be to provide solutions for issues pertaining to public safety and to build the ability to make judgments that align with your obligations to the community. 

Public Safety Administration: Education and Career Path

Although you can pursue any degree program related to Risk and Emergency Management, a Bachelor’s in Public Safety Administration would be ideal. This program helps you develop technical and soft skills transferable to various Public Safety Administration positions. You can expect to study courses in:

Most bachelor’s degrees in Public Safety Administration will allow you to choose a concentration in your third year of studies. You can often choose to focus on policing, fire protection, disaster relief management, public financial management, and more.

As you advance in your studies, you must complete real-world experience in law enforcement, emergency management, and criminal justice occupations

A bachelor’s degree in Public Safety Administration will help you land various positions in the field, such as:

To increase your abilities in leading public safety and enhance your professional network, you must pursue a Master’s in Public Safety Administration. This degree will build on your bachelor’s degree knowledge and hone your skills in effective:

Public safety and administration graduate programs may receive special accreditation from third-party agencies like the Center for Public Safety Excellence, identifying high-quality programs.

A Public Safety Administration master’s degree will qualify you for higher-level positions, including: 

You can also pursue a terminal degree. A PhD in Criminal Justice is given in conjunction with a PhD in Public Safety and Security. While some programs are offered online, most colleges and universities require their doctorate students to study on campus. This degree level will qualify you for academia and research positions.

In addition to formal education, you should expect to pursue additional certifications that align with your field of interest. For instance, you should obtain Firefighter 1 and 2 certifications to become a firefighter. 

Popular certifications for public safety administrators include:

Public Safety Administration ROI: Education Cost and Salaries 

According to the US News and World Report, students who pursue an online Public Safety Administration at the undergraduate level can expect to spend between $24,000 and $60,000 in tuition.

This is among the best options for modern students, especially those who don’t want to live on campus or spend more money on transportation and room and board costs. Upon pursuing a graduate degree, you can expect to spend an average of $20,513. 

The average annual salary of public safety administrators is $60,628. This figure can increase if you earn a master’s degree and land higher-level positions, such as emergency management director.

According to the Labor Statistics Bureau, EMDs are paid an average of $79,180. However, the field of Protective Service Occupations is expected to have little or no change from 2022 to 2032.  

A career in Public Safety Administration is for you if:

A career in Public Safety Administration is Not A Great Fit if:

What Does a Public Health Specialist Do?

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If you want to participate in the healthcare system but don’t want to become a doctor or nurse, a career as a Public Health specialist might be the perfect avenue for you. This field allows you to help maintain the community’s health without going through lengthy, expensive medical schooling.

Public Health is an intricate system that offers ways to prevent disease while shielding individuals from dangerous or harmful situations.

As a Public Health specialist, your main job is to protect the health of the population, whether in a small local neighborhood or a whole country or region. But unlike clinical professionals like doctors and nurses, who primarily focus on treating patients after they become ill or injured, your job is to prevent problems from occurring or recurring. 

For example, rather than writing prescriptions for high blood pressure medicine, you will investigate the connections between heart disease, diabetes, and obesity and utilize data to inform policy that aims to lower all three disorders.

Public Health: Education and Career Path

A bachelor’s degree in Public Health is the minimum qualification to participate in Public Health initiatives. While you can pursue other related degrees, such as community medicine and health education, a bachelor’s degree in Public Health is the most direct path into the field.

An undergraduate Public Health education focuses on community disease prevention, health promotion, and protection. 

A bachelor’s degree in Public Health will qualify you for entry-level positions, such as: 

Upon earning a bachelor’s degree, you should apply for any field experience to qualify for a master’s degree. A Master’s in Public Health (MPH) will open doors to more growth and career advancement opportunities. Many Public Health specialists are MPH holders. 

An MPH degree will help you broaden your area of focus into health. This interdisciplinary degree will provide knowledge and expertise in various fields, such as biostatistics, environmental health, health policy, epidemiology, program planning and evaluation, and more.

Pursuing an MPH will allow you to explore the recent trends in health and wellness and the scientific approaches and industry best practices that will help you influence health behaviors in various contexts.

Job positions you can apply for as an MPH degree holder include:

There are not a lot of Public Health specialists who pursue a doctorate. For one, an MPH is sufficient for a teaching and research position. However, if you want to seek a Doctorate in Public Health (DPH), you can proceed with a Medical Doctor (MD) degree. Public Health specialists with an MD degree will be qualified to diagnose and treat illnesses. 

There are several valuable Public Health certifications. Some of the most popular include:

Public Health ROI: Education Cost and Salaries

The majority of Public Health degrees are offered on campus. According to NCES, the average tuition costs of undergraduate on-campus programs are $9,596 and $34,041 for public in-state and private institutions, respectively. The average graduate tuition costs are $12,596 for public and $28,017 for private graduate schools.

If you decide to pursue an MD, you can expect to spend about $58,968 annually. 

The salary for a healthcare specialist will depend on their education and experience levels. But in general, the average salary of these professionals is $79,657. Plus, according to BLS, the overall growth of healthcare jobs is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations.

For instance, employment for epidemiologists is expected to increase by 27 percent, while health education specialist jobs are forecasted to grow by 7 percent between 2022 and 2032.

A career in Public Health is for you if:

A career in Public Health is not a great fit if:

Public Safety Administration vs Public Health - fact

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