Public Health Careers
A public health degree provides graduates with a variety of opportunities for employment. Graduates trained in public health practice, such as health education and health care administration, find employment opportunities in health care settings, non-profit organizations, public health departments and other government agencies. Graduates trained in public health sciences such as biostatistics, epidemiology and environmental health often obtain research or policy positions in government agencies, research institutions, private industry and academic settings.
Examples of Public Health Specialties:
As a subset of statistics, biostatistics is the analysis of data related to health. Public health professionals focusing on biostatistics may use models to track the health of a population and identify trends.
Public health informatics is the systematic application of information and computer science and technology to public health practice, research and learning. Public health informatics professionals work on information and technology issues from the perspective of groups of individuals.
Examples of public health careers with a focus in biostatistics and informatics:
- Medical and Health Services Manager
- Health Informatics Specialist
Community health professionals take a more holistic approach to public health. Their work involves considering the many dynamics that may be at play influencing the overall health of a particular community or region. They may initiate wellness programs, undertake educational activities or create resources to promote healthy living.
Examples of public health careers with a focus in community health:
- Health Care Administrator
- Health Educator
- Community Health Worker
Environmental health addresses all the physical, chemical, and biological factors external to a person, and all the related factors impacting behaviors. This field focuses on preventing disease and creating health-supportive environments. Environmental health professionals hold positions focused on prevention, research or community outreach to minimize the impact of these environmental risks.
Examples of public health careers with a focus in environmental health:
- Environmental Scientist
- Quality Investigator
- Environmental Engineer
Global health professionals combine research and education to serve populations around the world. Their work may involve creating ways to eliminate health disparities, improve access to care, and foster public health policies that encourage healthy habits.
Examples of public health careers with a focus in global health:
- Refugee Coordinator
- HIV/AIDs Educator
- Project Manager
Pulling from a variety of disciplines, health policy and management professionals need to be knowledgeable about economics, politics, management and finance. Additionally, these professionals are critical thinkers and problem solvers who are comfortable in leadership positions. Health policy and management professionals may be responsible for crafting policies that ensure access to medical care and provide uniform services across various populations.
Examples of public health careers with a focus in health policy and management:
- Health Services Manager
- Health Department Administrator
- Government Policy Analyst
Health education, promotion, and communication professionals spearhead efforts to encourage health lifestyles. Their job duties may be diverse and include creating and implementing wellness programs, developing marketing campaigns, completing grant applications and working with a team to formulate a comprehensive response to a health concern or crisis.
Examples of public health careers with a focus in health promotion and communication:
- Health Education Specialist
- Health Promotion Coordinator
- Public Relations Manager
Public health efforts to combat infectious disease include collecting data about the symptoms patients report and the diagnoses they receive, watching for unusual cases, and investigating outbreaks. When an outbreak occurs, public health officials take action to inform the public, educate physicians, and develop policies and systems to contain the infection.
Examples of public health careers with a focus in infectious disease:
- Infection Preventionist
- Disease Ecologist
Maternal and child health professionals concentrate on reproductive health, infant care and how best to protect the health of mothers and their children. Professionals in this field understand the social factors affecting the health habits of mothers as well as knowledge regarding the basics of child development. Professionals may provide services directly to women, their children and families. Others may be involved at the public policy level and work to facilitate programs that encourage better health for these populations.
Examples of public health careers with a focus in maternal and child health:
- Breastfeeding Support Coordinator
- Nurse Midwife
- WIC Nutrition Specialist
Minority health and health disparities professionals are committed to understanding why there is unequal access to health services and then work to alleviate those imbalances. Jobs in the field may require individuals to develop ways to better distribute available resources and improve health knowledge among underserved communities.
Examples of public health careers with a focus in minority health and health disparities:
- Public Health Nurse
- Minority Health Office Administrator
- Minority Health Research Analyst
Social and behavioral health includes a focus on the social influences impacting a population’s overall health. However, social and behavioral health places a greater emphasis on understanding how individual thought processes can affect health. For example, psychology, psychiatry and social work are all important components of this specialization. Workers may further focus their career on specific health concerns such as obesity, mental health or substance abuse.
Examples of public health careers with a focus in social and behavioral health:
- Social Worker
- Psychiatric Nurse
The core domains of veterinary public health include the following: diagnosis, surveillance, epidemiology, control, prevention and elimination of diseases common to man and animals; protecting our food supply; management of health aspects of laboratory animal facilities and diagnostic laboratories; biomedical research; health education and extension; and production and control of biological products and medical devices. Other veterinary public health core domains may include management of domestic and wild animal populations, protection of drinking-water and the environment, and management of public health emergencies.
Examples of public health careers with a focus in veterinary public health:
- Public Health Veterinarian
- USDA/NIH/CDC/FDA/FSIS Research Associate
- Bioterrorism Preparedness Specialist
Public Health Employers & Settings:
Government jobs include health department administration, public nursing, inspection services, outbreak investigations, food and drug safety, or disaster preparedness.
Jobs in this setting often focus on a particular population or location to address specific health disparities. Work is often focused nationally or internationally on populations such as minorities or women and children.
Public health professionals working in academia most often focus on research and teaching in public health-related degree programs.
Within the private sector, careers at insurance companies, health care facilities, or pharmaceutical research centers are common. Public Health professionals also work in private employment as a consultant working on a contract basis.