The public health profession involves assessing, planning, implementing and evaluating programs in schools, health care facilities, workplaces and the community. The health care industry is the fastest growing industry in the United States, partly because expanded access to health care is creating more jobs and career opportunities. There is an increasing emphasis on public health specifically.
Public health professionals are not limited to working in health care settings, however. They can work for the government, nonprofit organizations, private companies or in academia.
Individuals who have earned a public health degree can pursue positions like the following:
Community Nutrition Specialist
Community nutrition specialists concentrate on family and child health care as it relates to diet and food access. Generally, they work with disadvantaged populations and must have an understanding of social, economic and political factors that affect diet and nutrition. They must have a knowledge of child development, health habits and behaviors. Typical tasks that a community nutrition specialist can perform include creating and implementing communitywide educational programs that inform people concerning healthy eating habits and how to access fresh, healthy food. The average salary for a community nutrition specialist is $57,910.
Community Health Worker or Educator
Community health workers provide services and education specific to a particular community, demographic or region. Community health workers and educators are often part of community health centers and organizations, which range from neighborhood health centers to the World Health Organization. A community health worker’s focus can be on a range of health issues or a specific problem. Some community health workers and educators focus on mental health or addiction, while others work specifically to educate and prevent the spread of communicable diseases. The average salary for a community health worker is $43,840 a year.
Epidemiologists are required to have at least a master’s degree in public health. They work specifically to investigate and assess patterns and causes of diseases and injuries. They combine research, education and advocacy to help prevent or reduce the risk of negative health outcomes. The average salary of an epidemiologist is $69,450.
Global Health Worker
Global health workers use both research and education to help people around the world. They can work as refugee coordinators, HIV/AIDS educators and more. Generally, their work provides education, advocacy and direct care to patients. They can create programs that respond to health disparities, provide access to public health resources and advocate for public health policies. Global health workers make a similar average salary as community health workers ($43,840).
Government Policy Analyst
If working directly with the public is not necessarily appealing but public health is still a passion, then working as a government policy analyst may be the right path. Policy analysts assess current and past health care policies and advocate for changes that better respond to current health issues and trends. Policy analysts can work for local, state and federal government agencies or public or private organizations to create change and evaluate the effectiveness of policies and programs. Most policy analysts have a master’s degree.