Marion, J.W., Murphy, T.J., and Zimeri, A.M. 2017. Trends in the environmental health job market for new graduates. Journal of Environmental Health, 80(2):32-36.
Environmental Health Science
The question of whether the job market can support future graduates of environmental health programs remains an important and difficult question for environmental health programs, current and prospective students, parents, and other stakeholders. Our previous report using 2014 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics demonstrated anticipated growth and higher than average pay in the profession through at least 2022 for baccalaureate degree holders (Marion & Sinde, 2015). Growth in the profession does not necessarily translate into job availability if the market is saturated with job candidates. While university programs produce graduates, local health departments (LHDs) have suffered tremendous job losses nationally. Although there was a net gain of 850 positions in LHDs in 2016, the U.S. has 50,000 fewer LHD employees today than one decade ago. For monitoring potential changes in job availability, an annual survey is performed among the 32 programs accredited by the National Environmental Health Science and Protection Accreditation Council (EHAC). The results of the last six surveys (2012 - 2017) pertaining to job outlooks were evaluated. Using the responses to the overarching categories of public sector and private sector employment, descriptive analyses and a logistic regression model were performed to see if programs perceiving increasing job growth were oriented more toward having graduates placed in private sector positions. Overall, over half of accredited EHAC undergraduate and graduate programs perceive increasing job opportunities for their graduating students. The programs most closely aligned to the private sector reported more favorable job outlook scenarios for their graduates. Specifically, the odds of perceiving an increasing market for graduates increased six-fold for each percent increase in the number of recent graduates working in private industry (OR = 6.0, 95% CI: 1.1, 32). Most of the programs that are most closely aligned to public sector employment opportunities perceive either no change or increasing opportunities in the job market. Future studies among recent graduates taking into consideration salary differences between public and private employers are encouraged. Such discrepancies, if any, between public versus private salaries among EHAC graduates could be useful in informing environmental public health budgets and policies.
Journal of Environmental Health
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