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Public Health Careers: Find Your Next Job

Updated: January 5, 2024 | Published: June 7, 2021

Updated: January 5, 2024

Published: June 7, 2021

Public Health Careers Find Your Next Job - Hana

Even though basic health care is a fundamental human right, the world encounters a major shortage of health care workers. Per a research study titled, Global Health Workforce Labor Market Projections for 2030, “ the global demand for health workers will rise to 80 million workers, double the current (2013) stock of health workers, while the supply of health workers is expected to reach 65 million over the same period, resulting in a worldwide net shortage of 15 million health workers.”

In the current scenario and keeping in mind the labor market predictions for the future, skilled health care workers are going to be in huge demand. However, contrary to general perceptions, being a health care worker doesn’t only mean being a nurse or a doctor; there are indeed so many other ways to work in health, where you can make an impact on people’s lives on an even larger scale. One way is to explore working in public health careers. By earning your degree in public health or a related field, there are many different career paths that you can go into, depending on your interests.

What is Public Health?

Public health is a field that strives to plan for, promote, and protect the health and well-being of people in a given community.

Whether this means preventing diseases, keeping people safe in an epidemic or pandemic, protecting people who may be getting ill from the water supply, or creating social wellness programs to get a community suffering from obesity to exercise more, there are no limits as to what public health departments are capable of doing in order to protect their constituents. Public health is an important aspect of any society.

Why Pursue a Degree in Public Health?

By pursuing a degree in public health, you are first and foremost opening yourself to many different career paths, each of which is potentially very rewarding. As public health is something that will always be a necessity, pursuing a degree in this field means you’ll likely always have work as well as the opportunity to grow individually as you help many others.

A Look into Public Health Careers

The public health sector encompasses many different types of jobs within different areas. These include:


Public health careers in the public sector may involve working with local communities, public policy, administration, and government.


Public health careers in the education sector may involve teaching about public health at the college level or working with companies to teach them how to implement public health campaigns — like social wellness — into their work office environment. 


Public health careers in the private sector may involve working with private health organizations, insurance companies, private practice, etc.


Public health careers in the non-profit sector may involve working in advocacy, education, research, administration, and other areas with non-profit organizations or NGOs.

Public Health: Many Career Paths with One Degree

If you’re thinking about getting a degree in public health, then you might be wondering what type of degree you should go for. The great thing about getting a degree in public health — or a related field like biology or health sciences — is that any degree can set you on a pathway for success. Whether or not you continue your studies depends on what type of position you’re looking to get it.

Associate Degree in Public Health

An associate degree in public health is a two-year degree in which you’ll get a decent introduction to public health and what a career in this field will look like. You’ll take some of the core subjects in this area.

Though most public health jobs typically require a bachelor’s degree, an associate in public health is a good opportunity to see if this is the career you want to go into, without spending too much time and money in case it ends up not being the right fit. At the very least, you’ll get some meaningful experience and may be able to land an entry-level job in public health.

Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health

A bachelor’s degree in public health is a four-year degree where you can explore different areas of public health, on top of building expertise and a strong understanding of how to do a job in public health.

Some universities may offer both a BS in public health and a BA in public health. The former might focus more on research, epidemiology, and natural sciences, while the latter might focus more on social sciences, community health, etc. This degree will allow you to get a decent job in the public health sector, and prepare you for a graduate degree if that’s what you decide to do.

Master of Public Health

A master’s degree in public health (MPH) or master of science in public health (MSPH) is a graduate degree that will typically take another two years to earn after receiving your bachelor’s degree. The programs may differ from one university to the next, but in general, they should cover topics ranging from biostatistics and epidemiology to health services administration and global health.

Of course, if you’d like, you can continue on to get a Ph.D. in Public Health, but this is not a compulsory requirement.

Careers Available in Public Health

Now that you know how vast the public health field is, you’re probably wondering what type of career paths you can look forward to if you decide to pursue a degree in this field! There are many different types of careers available, and within these, more specific jobs to choose from.

public health careerSource: Pixabay

Biostatistics and Informatics

This is a career field in public health that’s ideal for those holding a bachelor’s of science in public health, but not necessarily. It involves analyzing data, identifying trends, and applying the outcomes to evidence-based plans for public health.


Have you seen a public health campaign in your neighborhood or an advertisement on TV that tells you what to do in the face of a pandemic? This is all thanks to health promotion and communication. You could become a PR manager for a public health department or a spokesperson.

A minor in communications or a major in communications with a minor in public health would help you get a job like this.

Community Health

Community health professionals help to solve public health problems in their communities. They may plan more holistic initiatives to provide solutions or health and wellbeing education and campaigns for people on a local level.

Public Health Education

Do you like teaching about public health to train young minds to go out and make a difference? Then a career in public health education might be right for you. You could teach at the college level or run public health seminars for policymakers.

Emergency Management

A public health crisis can lead to an emergency, and those with a public health degree can go into emergency management. This means being in charge of or involved in creating a management plan in the case of an emergency, for instance, an epidemic, so that victims can get the help they need.

Environmental Health

There’s no denying that problems in our environment can lead to a public health crisis, whether it’s contaminated water, pollution from a nearby factory that’s causing disease in members of the community, or keeping people safe from smoke inhalation in the case of a wildfire. The list, unfortunately, goes on and on, which means someone who works in environmental public health — especially in the face of rapid climate change — will no doubt have a lot of career options to choose from.


Public health professionals working in epidemiology work to monitor and stop the spread of diseases. They do this by understanding where they originate, knowing how to develop solutions based on data, and being able to work quickly and efficiently with the community and global health departments.


There’s so much research to be done in the field of public health. We are constantly learning about new trends, information, and relationships between things. Research plays a huge role in public health response, and you could be part of that.

Medical Practice

You can’t have public health without the “health” aspect. Except, unlike a doctor that might treat an individual, a public health professional that works in the medical practice side would be treating entire communities and groups of people who may be suffering from, say, an outbreak or epidemic.

Mental Health

Mental health is also a major component of public health that unfortunately does not always get as much attention as the physical health side. Working in public health from a mental health standpoint means that you can work to address widespread mental health issues.

Public Policy and Administration

Oftentimes, laws need to be passed to implement public health research, strategies, and solutions. Being on this side of public health means you can work to get this done.

Social and Behavioral Science

How are social influences in society impacting health for individuals and on a larger scale? Work to find out how health concerns can be mitigated and treated at the root of the problem.

These are just a few of the broader career paths and jobs within public health, but the list is much longer. By speaking to a career counselor at your college, you can learn more about the opportunities that exist with a public health degree.

public health illustrationSource: Pixabay

Top Employers in Public Health

As you can see, there are so many different careers you can go into after earning your degree in public health. But what are some of the top employers in the field? If you go into public health, you may find yourself applying for a job at one of these employers:

  • CDC
  • NIH
  • Hospitals and medical facilities
  • State and local public health departments

Important Skills for Public Health Graduates

Obtaining your degree in public health will give you much of the experience and knowledge you need to be prepared for a career in public health. But, in addition to that, there are certain skills that employers would be looking for when they set out to hire someone.

Think about which skills you have that you can highlight or if you don’t yet possess these skills, what you can learn:

  • Analytical/Critical thinking
  • Assessment
  • Communication and collaboration
  • Science
  • Financial planning
  • Project management
  • Policy development
  • Program planning

Public Health Job Outlook and Salary

The salary and job outlook of public health professionals depend by and large on the job itself. To give some examples, the salary of a public health officer ranges from $49,498 to $72,089. Alternatively, according to the BLS, an epidemiologist had an average salary in 2019 of $70,990 a year, with a 5% projected job growth between 2019 and 2029.

If you’re looking to get your degree in something that will provide you with many career paths, with a promising salary and job outlook, then public health could be the way to go. This is especially true if you want to work in health and/or science, but you’re not particularly interested in going into the medical side of things.

And, whether you’re absolutely sure you want to go into a career in public health or you want to explore this route without spending insanely high tuition fees and changing your schedule to be in a classroom, then check out University of the People. We’re the first accredited institution of higher education that’s not only entirely online but tuition-free! Best of all, we offer degree programs in health sciences.