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Public Health Jobs

Professionals who discovered the West Nile Virus and worked to prevent the spread of this disease. Individuals who lobby for money to develop campaigns for educating on the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Those who find health trends and publish statistics to prevent the spread of injury and disease among a certain population. A lactation consultant who teaches a teen mom how to breastfeed her baby. These are just a few examples of jobs within the exciting and rewarding field of public health. Learn more about public health certification. The following information was gathered from a variety of sources including the www.whatispublichealth.org website, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and interviewing professionals in the field of public health.

What is public health?

Public Health is the science of protecting and improving the health of communities through education, promotion of healthy

There is a wide assortment of specialties within the field of public health. Some of the main areas include:

Environmental health

Environmental health is concerned with the interactions between our surroundings and our health and how to reduce risk factors. Examples of how environmental factors can affect the health of communities, consider food poisoning, cancer, and asthma. Areas of concern in this field are radiation protection, solid waste management, air quality, hazardous waste management, food protection, water quality, housing quality, and noise control. Individuals with a background in engineering, toxicology, and chemistry are needed in this area of public health. Learn more about the public health degree.

Biostatistics

Biostatistics is the study of identifying health trends through use of statistics to develop methods of saving lives through. Predictions can be made for a population’s health trends, which can determine that cause of injury and disease.

Behavior Science and Health Education

This specialty promotes healthy choices to decrease injury and illness among populations mainly through education programs. Healthy choices can include living a healthy lifestyle, preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, advocating seat belt use, and encouraging youth to understand the detriments of binge drinking. Individuals with a background in the following areas could work in this specialty: mental health, health promotion and disease prevention, aging, public health practice, and health education.

Epidemiology

Epidemiologists are often referred to as “disease detectives” since they investigate when food poisoning occurs or there is an influenza outbreak within a population. These professionals have the important job of determining the cause of injury or disease so they can further prevent the spread. Discoveries such as the outbreak of the West Nile virus came from epidemiologists. These individuals work closely with biostaticians.

Health Services Administration/Management

The management and administration of health services is a broader specialty that involves developing budgets for health departments, creating policies, and managing databases. Those with degrees in marketing, finance, policy formation and analysis, economics, and planning may fair well in this specialty. Learn more about public health employment.

Maternal and Child Health

Individuals who work in this specialty work primarily with women and children to improve their health through research and education. Ensuring women have access to birth control, educating pregnant women on prenatal care, and promoting vaccines for children are all included in this specialty.

Nutrition

Those in the nutrition specialty within public health encourage healthy lifestyles through eating healthy and exercising. In promoting overall health and nutrition, the goal is to decrease sickness and injury.

International and Global Health

Individuals who work in the international and global health sector of public health address all the above-mentioned specialties but on a global level. Different health issues that exist in various cultures across the world are addressed. Due to people being able to travel from one country to another or one area within a country to another, diseases can also travel quickly.

Public Health Laboratory Practices

Laboratory professionals test environmental (such as food and water) and biological samples to diagnose, prevent and treat diseases that exist within populations.

Public Health Policy

Those in the specialty of public health policy have the goal of improving public health through federal, state, and local legislation. Examples of focus areas in this field would include the analysis of seat belt laws on tragic deaths and promoting anti-smoking campaign funding.

Public Health Practice

Professionals in public health practice include almost any type of health professional you’d find working at a hospital or doctors office such as physicians, nurses, veterinarians, dentists, and pharmacists. However, these individuals work with a public health focus.

Request Information from Public Health Colleges

The public health degree program you need in order to get your career started is listed below among many public health schools, colleges, and universities. This page was designed to provide you a resource to find what you need quickly and efficiently. Request information from several of the public health schools, colleges, and universities below in order to find the right program for you.

Master Degree in Public Health

A Master of Public Health degree will give you the opportunity to explore many different facets of public health care.  According to the American Heart Association, some form of cardiovascular disease affected nearly 81,100,000 Americans in 2006. During that same year, cardiovascular disease was responsible for about 34.3% of all deaths in the United States, taking the lives of 831,272 Americans and making it the number one cause of death. The second leading cause of death was cancer with 559,888 deaths. Risk factors like high blood pressure (affecting 73,600,000 Americans) and coronary artery disease (affecting 17,600,000 Americans) were among the leading factors that contributed to these high deaths rates by cardiovascular disease.

Public health care officials are dedicated to changing these statistics by making public awareness and health education their top priorities. Regardless of where you find yourself within the public health sector, you can feel confident that your work is making a difference in the health of the community you serve, and the direction the nation’s health is trending.

Bachelor Degree in Public Health

Students pursuing the Bachelor of Science in Public Health degree will find that their education will take them down one of several different paths. The overall objective of this degree is to give students the skills, values, and knowledge to be integral forces in the public health care system, regardless of which area of public health they choose to specialize in. Some students choose to secure entry-level positions after the completion of this degree program, while other students use their degree as a stepping stone to graduate-level education.

The Bachelor of Science in Public Health degree incorporates the complexities of the health care system, health care law, information systems, financial management, and human resources management. Recurrent changes within the health care system, such as with the HIPAA privacy laws and new regulations regarding the adoption of electronic health record systems, have not only made the public health care arena an interesting place in which to work, but also a complex one that requires professionals who are knowledgeable in all areas of health care.

Every type of hospital, health care system, medical practice group, government agency, research institute, and health care consulting firm needs qualified professionals who can help operate and manage the inflow of patients and their health care needs. Pursuing a bachelor’s in public health is a good way to begin your training in this dynamic field.

Schools of Public Health

Why pursue an education in public health?

Issues affecting public health are in greater focus now than has ever before been the case. It seems nearly every major issue being discussed in a public forum among politicians and legislative bodies domestically, as well as globally among member nations of the UN, World Health Organization (WHO), and Center for Disease Control (CDC) have been highlighting the need for greater public awareness and involvement in issues related to collective health.

For those individuals considering public health jobs, regardless of their chosen area of expertise, the soul professional motivation is the health of a given community. The education through programs offered by public health schools provide a new perspective on health such that each individual is able to be seen in the context of the community in which he or she lives.

How will public health schools prepare me for a career in public health?

The focus of public health professionals can be as intimate as providing a low-income neighborhood with access to basic medical care, or as global as working with the international medical community to stop the spread of a global pandemic. In a world that

What are some issues currently in focus in public health schools?

The international medical community has had its hands full in recent years. Pandemic scares related to various new forms of influenza, a shrinking supply of potable water, and the AIDS epidemic in Africa are all vitally important public health issues that rightfully have been receiving a lot of international attention from the schools that train these professionals.

Domestically, childhood obesity and early onset diabetes, as well as a dramatic increase in the incidents of heart disease and diabetes among adults, have been public health issues that have been the focus of public health schools and the American public health community at large. Thanks in part to the passion with which first lady, Michelle Obama, has brought these issues into the spot light, the public is now part of the discussion, and are talking about issues related to the nutritional content of school lunches and all inclusive athletic programs in our nation’s public schools.

Deadly new forms of staph and MRSA, have been affecting perfectly healthy segments of society, mutated forms of avian and swine influenza that have demonstrated the capability of being transferred from animal to human populations have also brought attention to the fact that public health is not a collection of issues with limited reach relegated only to impoverished segments of American society.

These issues have helped bring to light the very real need for well trained public health professionals concerned with educating the public, controlling the spread of disease, and providing options for taking preventative measures to stay healthy.

Public Health Salary

Public health administration salary

Public health is a broad, diverse field, one that covers local, state, national and global health issues, from improving health care access to promoting healthy lifestyles, reducing substance abuse to implementing educational programs.

Individuals working in the industry may encounter or deal with issues from any number of issues that could impact public health, such as global epidemics, environmental risks, obesity, natural disasters and more. There are numerous educational paths available to potential careers in the field, spread across ten core subject areas, according to the Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health:

  • Behavioral and social science
  • Biostatistics and informatics
  • Community health
  • Environmental health
  • Epidemiology
  • Global health
  • Health policy and management
  • Health promotion and communication
  • Maternal and child health
  • Minority health and health disparities

Careers in public health

Because of its breadth, public health encapsulates several primary paths of career focuses, such as health communication, research, occupational safety, laboratory practices, preventative services and more. Below is a list of 11 common public health careers:

Biochemist. Biochemists are scientists that coordinate and conduct research into living organisms, focusing on areas including genetic mutations, diseases and more.

Clinical social worker. Clinical social workers provide substantive care to individuals, families and the community dealing with issues stretching from substance abuse to serious illnesses.

Dietitians/Nutritionist. nutritionists work with individuals to establish healthy eating and lifestyle behaviors.

Environmental science technician. Environmental science technicians work under the supervision of environmental scientists, assisting with both laboratory- and field-based research in areas such as pollution or water safety.

Environmental scientist. Environmental scientists study the impact of the environment on human beings, including climate change, water pollution, chemicals and more.

Epidemiologist. Epidemiologists are public health researchers that collect and analyze data to investigate the causes and risks of diseases in human beings.

Health educator. Health educators are responsible for creating, implementing and maintaining healthy living strategies to improve the general well-being of their neighborhoods, communities or state.

Public health administrator. Public health administrators may work in a range of health care settings and are typically responsible for coordinating patient care, managing policy issues, and ensuring proper delivery of health services.

Registered nurse. Registered nurses provide and manage patient care in a variety of health care settings, from hospitals to schools.

Substance abuse counselor. Substance abuse counselors work with individuals (and their families) dealing with drug, alcohol or other behavioral-focused behaviors.

Salaries and career outlook for public health professionals

Overall, the public health sector is projected to experience continual employment growth nationally between 2012 and 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov). Based on job data from the BLS, the fastest growing public health careers include substance abuse counselors, public health administrators, dietitians and nutritionists, and biochemists.

The three best paying public health careers include public health administrators, biochemists, and epidemiologists. Below is a table of public health professions, with their 2013 national average salary and projected employment growth figures nationally from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Occupation

2013 National Average Salary

Projected % Growth in Employment Nationally, 2012 - 2022

Substance abuse counselor

$41,090

31.4%

Public health administrators

$101,340

23.2%

Dietitians and Nutritionists

$56,300

21.1%

Registered nurses

$68,910

19.4%

Health educator

$53,800

19.0%

Environmental science technicians

$45,470

19.0%

Biochemists

$91,640

18.6%

Environmental scientists

$70,770

14.6%

Clinical social worker

$72,710

11.3%

Epidemiologists

$73,040

10.2%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013

Public health state salaries

Indeed, national salaries figures only tell one part of the story. Location has a major impact on potential earnings for public health professionals. Below is a list of the top three paying states in 2013 for the public health careers mentioned above. Data is from the BLS:

Biochemists

  • New Jersey ($125,090)
  • Massachusetts ($105,540)
  • Connecticut ($103,720)

Clinical social workers

  • Hawaii ($102,990)
  • Rhode Island ($93,710)
  • Alabama ($85,800)

Dietitians and Nutritionists

  • California ($71,870)
  • Nevada ($70,580)
  • Hawaii ($64,150)

Environmental science technicians

  • Nevada ($59,430)
  • South Carolina ($57,130)
  • Washington ($55,960)

Environmental scientists

  • Virginia ($84,120)
  • Rhode Island ($83,680)
  • California ($83,210)

Epidemiologists

  • North Carolina ($104,300)
  • New Jersey ($99,730)
  • Massachusetts (88,640)

Health Educators

  • Maryland ($83,140)
  • Georgia ($74,150)
  • Rhode Island ($66,270)

Public health administrators

  • California ($118,040)
  • New York ($118,020)
  • Delaware ($114,640)

Registered nurses

  • California ($96,980)
  • Hawaii ($85,380)
  • Massachusetts ($83,720)

Substance abuse counselors

  • Michigan ($50,890)
  • Utah ($49,760)
  • New Jersey ($49,460)

State employment projections for public health professionals

Nationally, the occupations listed above are projected to see an average employment increase of nearly 19 percent between 2012 and 2022. However, job opportunities vary by state and, in many cases, career growth in individual states should surpass national averages.

Below is a list of the states projected to see the largest employment gains for the following public health careers between 2012 and 2022:

  • Biochemist. Top states include Florida (50.9%), Utah (41.1%), Colorado (35.6%), Kansas (35.5%) and Vermont (27.7%)
  • Clinical social worker. Top states include Utah (25%), Indiana (22.2%), Georgia (21.2%), Florida (20.7%) and Oregon (19.9%)
  • Dietitians/Nutritionist. Top states include Texas (30.1%), Utah (29.9%), Colorado (28.2%), Kentucky (27.6%) and Arizona (25.5%)
  • Environmental science technician. Top states include Colorado (37.7%), North Dakota (35.6%), Wyoming (28.9%), Utah (28.7%) and North Carolina (27.2%)
  • Environmental scientist. Top states include Colorado (30.1%), California (29.5%), Kentucky (26.1%), Utah (23.9%) and Texas (23.5%)
  • Epidemiologist. Top states include Florida (32.4%), Kentucky (30%), Texas (17.8%), Washington (17%) and North Carolina (16.9%)
  • Health educator. Top states include Florida (33.1%), Utah (30.2%), Kentucky (29.2%), Tennessee (27.5%) and Colorado (27.3%)
  • Public health administrator. Top states include Utah (35.4%), Kentucky (30.4%), Texas (30.3%), Georgia (29.1%) and Arizona (28.2%)
  • Registered nurse. Top states include Utah (31.4%), Texas (28.2%), Idaho (26.4%), Colorado (26.2%) and Arizona (25.6%)
  • Substance abuse counselor. Top states include Kentucky (42.1%), Georgia (40.9%), Utah (37.5%), New Hampshire (35.9%) and Arizona (34.2%)

With multiple career options and growing job openings, public health is a field that should be of interest to any prospective student.

Public Health Employment

What different public health employment settings are available?

Professionals in the public health field can work for both private and public organizations. Within the public sector, there are federal, state and local organizations. Examples of federal or government organizations include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Medical Association, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institute for Health. Examples of local health groups include any non-profit organizations, colleges, research and development institutes, and even hospitals. Examples of non-profit organizations would include the American Cancer Society or the Red Cross. In the private sector there are positions available such as working in control trials for health insurance or pharmaceutical companies.

Learn more about the public health degree.

What types of accomplishments have occurred due to the field of public health?

According to a study in 1999, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed public health’s biggest achievements to include the following:

Vaccines: Due to the widespread use of vaccines, smallpox and polio were eradicated in North and South America, and

Public Health Degree

What kind of bachelor’s degree is needed to work in public health?

Since public health is so broad there are a variety of bachelor’s degrees one can obtain to pursue this field. Some chose to earn their bachelor’s in public health and others may chose a degree that relates to the specific area of public health they’re interested in. For example, for a person who wants to pursue a job in biostatistics or epidemiology, a degree in math or biology may be appropriate. A nutrition or dietetics degree is suitable for those who want to pursue the nutrition field within public health. For those interested in health services administration, a marketing or business degree is an excellent fit. A psychology, sociology, or anthropology degree would fit well for someone interested in a behavioral science or global health career. For those who want to be involved in health education, an education degree would be an appropriate match.

Learn more about public health certification.

Is a master’s degree helpful for the public health field?

Typically to advance in the field of public health a master’s degree is needed. Even for those who are uncertain if they want to obtain

Are internships typically required for a degree in public health?

Most programs require internships so students are able to gain hands on experience in this field. The types of internships vary based on the program and the area of emphasis in public health an individual is pursuing. Internship experiences usually vary from six to nine months in duration. Oftentimes several shorter (perhaps two to three month) internships are required so students can get experience working in a variety of settings. Settings may include local or state health departments as well as hospitals.

Public Health Certification

Are there additional certifications that increase one’s credibility in public health?

There are a variety of certifications depending on the specialty one pursues in public health. Examples of these are Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES), Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), and Licensed Social Worker (LSW).

Learn more about the public health degree.

Is there a professional organization for those in public health?

In the field of public health, what are some common job titles?

The titles within this broad field can really run the spectrum. There are analysts, specialists, managers, and directors of various initiatives. Here is a breakdown of some common titles by category found on the University of North Carolina, School of Public Health website.

Nutrition

    • Clinical/Registered Dietician
    • Nutritionist
    • Worksite Wellness Specialist
    • Consultant
    • Program Coordinator
    • Policy Assistant
    • Research Associate

Epidemiology

  • Epidemiologist
  • Occupational Epidemiologist
  • Risk Analyst
  • Program Director (of academic or medical research center)

Learn more about the public health salary.

Biostatistics

    • Biostatistician
    • Research Statistician
    • Statistical SAS Programmer
    • Statistical Writer
    • Analysis Programmer
    • Health Informatics Specialist

Health Behavior and Health Education

    • Mental Health Research Scientist
    • Consultant Health Educator
    • Coalition Coordinator
    • Public Health Advisor
    • Program Coordinator/Manager Education
    • Research Evaluator
    • Outreach Coordinator



Environmental Science

    • Environmental Biologist
    • Water Lab Supervisor
    • Research Entomologist
    • Research Scientist
    • Consumer Health Director
    • Air Quality Engineer

Public Health Leadership

  • Bioterrorism Preparedness Specialist
  • Public Health Nurse
  • Safety & Health Specialist
  • Clinical Trials Coordinator
  • Director for Public Health
  • Process Integration Manager
  • Public Health Educator
  • Environmental Health Coordinator

Learn more about the public health employment.

Maternal and Child Health

    • Project Director
    • Public Health Prevention Specialist
    • Clinical/Medical Director
    • Program Planner/Evaluator
    • Health Scientist Consultant
    • Research Associate
    • Developmental Services Coordinator

Global Health

    • Environmental Protection Specialist
    • Statistician
    • Laboratory Operations Coordinator
    • Health Scientist
    • Public Health Analyst
    • Health Education Specialist
    • Public Health Advisor



Health Policy and Management

  • Operations Administrator
  • Vice President for Strategic Development
  • Health Officer
  • Research Associate
  • Public Health Advisor
  • Project Specialist
  • Health Policy Analyst

Careers in Public Health

What are some public health careers currently in focus?

The variance in the types of public health careers is as wide as the variance in issues specific to public health currently being discussed in the public form. Working on ways to resolve these issues continues to be the focus of all public health professionals, regardless of their chosen vocation. Although the jobs performed by these professionals are vastly different from one another, they all share a common concern for the health and wellness of the communities in which they work.

Health educators are needed to teach our nation’s youth about everything from safe sexual conduct to maintaining high standards of cleanliness in an effort to reduce the spread of communicable diseases.

Nutritionists are needed to ensure schools and other public institutions offer lunch programs with nutritionally complete meals.

How do public health professionals implement methods of prevention?

The creation of a first of it’s kind medical bill that will extend medical coverage to millions of Americans who have never before had access has contributed to making issues related to public health common talking points among all Americans. Citizens of this country are now becoming more aware of how issues of health within our communities, our country, and the world affect us all individually and collectively.

In exploring all means by which to achieve an improvement in the health of the communities they serve, public health professionals promote preventative measures that have been recognized as the best means by which to combat many public health issues.

The formula of better diet and increased exercise is simple, albeit a tricky one to implement. While public health advocates are working to promote taxation on sugary beverages and are pushing to have soda machines removed from public schools, they find themselves in opposition with cash-strapped school districts who look to these soda machines as sources of much-needed revenue. Sadly, afterschool athletic programs are among the first things to be cut when a school looks for ways to save money as operating expenses grow and revenue stagnates.

Public health careers in this context will continue to be focused on education and motivation while placing the individual and collective health of communities first and foremost.

Sources

Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, http://www.aspph.org/discover/

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Substance Abuse Counselors, www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-and-behavioral-disorder-counselors.htm

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Health Educators, www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/health-educators.htm

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Biochemists, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/biochemists-and-biophysicists.htm

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Environmental Scientists, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/environmental-scientists-and-specialists.htm

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Biostatisticians, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/statisticians.htm

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Public Health Administrators, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Dietitians and Nutritionists, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dietitians-and-nutritionists.htm

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Environmental Science Technicians, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/environmental-science-and-protection-technicians.htm

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Epidemiologists, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/epidemiologists.htm#tab-2

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm

Public Health Schools