T Nation

Good Careers to Be In Now


So with the economic downturn I think this is a good topic for this forum.

What is a good career to be in/go in now?

I have a bachelor's degree in public health and have been working in public health emergency preparedness for the past five years. The pay is ok but not great (roughly $40,000). I'm 29 years old and will be finishing a master's degree in epidemiology in less than a year. I started my master's right after I finished my BS and entered the workforce (I've been working full time and doing my master's for five years). I've found out that most jobs in epidemiology field require or prefer a PhD.

I'm in a situation where I either quit working and complete my PhD (which I don't think is prudent at this time) or continue working and work on a management type degree (MPA, MBA or MHA).

I guess I'm just looking for advice on which path to take. I feel like I'm going to be stagnant with only a MSc in epidemiology. I want to make more money and have a more influential position. I know education isn't everything but it counts for something. So which way should I go; PhD, MPA, MBA or MHA with the idea that I want to work in health care or public health.

I look forward to hearing from you all as you are the most honest no nonsense people I've seen on the internet.

Thanks for everyone's feedback.


I think that you should primarily go for a PhD, because it's highly valuable, marketable and will automatically qualify you for positions with high salaries.

If you choose to get a management degree, you could always work in healthcare management.
The economy WILL bounce back, and it could bring some changes to the job demographics of the healthcare field.


I work in Vaccine Manufacturing and as of right now we are not hurting, actually growing. With focus in health moving towards prevention I think that is a good area to be in, preventive measures.

PhD would be a good route if you can get it paid for.


Health is always a good field because people are always sick or dying.

Weigh the costs/benefits of getting a PhD, specifically in how much you'll make afterward and how long it'll take you to pay back. Also, factor in the money you'll lose by not working if you choose not to work.


Bishop is a good gig.


There are easier ways to make money and not take on that much schooling and debt. By the time you get done the gov't could be dictating you salary as a doctor.

To me the healthcare market is the one that is at the most risk right now.

You best bet is to look at the forbes 400 list and see what industry is most prevalent and among the most wealthy.

another track would be to look at where the most public dollars are being, or will be spent in the private sector. Environmental science, farming, etc.

You can also make a lot of money is sales or as a property owner. Shit, I barely graduated college and sales is treating me better than if I would have spent a ton more time and money in school to become a doctor. Certainl not as rewarding but it pay well.


Spatula technician at the local soup kitchen.


I don't have a Ph.D, but I have a very good friend that is getting through his. He was lucky enough to have someone else pay for most of it, and the remainder is being written off by the school because he is teaching. Maybe you could look into companies that offer educational advancement. For instance, with a masters in epidemiology, maybe you could get hired by a huge hospital, huge health network, or huge pharma company that would pay for you to pursue your masters in another area or your Ph.D while continuing to work. It would take a while to get the school done, but you'd have food on the table and no debt mounting. . .

Healthcare is a good field, but "the times, they are a changin" and healthcare is on the block for a huge overhaul.

If you got a Ph.D you could be an expert witness after some career experience. THAT will pay the bills.


You must have had some career plan, what motivated you to do a degree in public health? I think there has to be a good reason to stay on to do further education (not just to earn more money) and at the moment it sounds like you don't have one.


orthopedic surgery

bioengineering of artificial joints


The classic approach in economic downturns is to stay in school or go back to school. Grad school can be a decent living if your frugal. When my wife was in grad school, through grants and teaching, she was able to pay all her expenses plus pay off just about all her undergrad student loans.

Get you MBA or the PhD in Epidemiology (note; getting the MBA will probably cost you, the PhD will pay you).


Guys, guys, guys. How prudent is it to suggest life-long career advice based on the CURRENT economic and social environment? Considering we can't accurately see even 5 years out -- AT BEST -- isn't it a bit myopic?

Dude, you're 29. You'll be working for the next 30+ years most likely. You'll make a living with a phD, you'll make a living with an MBA. Choose the path which most interests you. Work hard. Hope for the best. It's all we can do.


Medicine/pharmacology. Folk always are getting sick, and in a economic downturn it can only get busier.


My field (Computer Science) is a good field to get into IF you're good at it. I'm getting paid 68k a year and i just graduated college a year ago - even in this economy I have no worries about finding a new job if I quit or my company goes under. I think though that I might not be in as good of a position had I not been good at programming and that kind of stuff from the start. You kind of have to have a knack for it.


Repo man will be a good choice.


With a PhD, you could work in academia or industry. Both have their pros and cons, but both can be comfortable.

On a side note, I'm in med school at the moment. One of my friends is gonna leave the system once he gets his MD and go straight to industry. Highly marketable degree.


Bank president?


Law enforcement and Barber, soon we'll all be considered criminals and people will always need haircuts...


Mortician. The supply of dead people isn't decreasing anytime soon.


Yesterday, the WSJ did an article on the top 200 jobs. The jobs are rated on five Core Criteria: Environment, Income, Outlook, Stress and Physical Demands. The top two jobs are mathematician and actuary (high pay, low stress). The worst: logger (low pay, high risk).

This is the ranking that was the source of the article: