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Areas in
Public Health

Search Public Health Job Opportunities Across The Nation

Public health promotes the well-being of the entire population.
Career paths typically fall within the following areas:

  • Infectious/communicable disease control
  • Chronic disease & injury prevention
  • Environmental public health
  • Maternal, child, family health
  • Access to & linkages with clinical care, including public health nursing and nutrition sciences
  • Laboratory sciences
  • Program administration, grants management and finance, and executive leadership

Building Core Competencies in:

  • Assessment & surveillance
  • Community partnership development
  • Equity
  • Organizational development
  • Policy development & support
  • Accountability & performance management
  • Emergency preparedness & response
  • Communications

Roles in Public Health

Here are some roles and descriptions in the field.
Note that job titles and functions may vary by state and agency.

  • Ensure that budgets are accurately managed. People with business training and accounting or finance backgrounds are needed. A CPA or accounting degree is often a plus, but not required.
  • Keep offices running, greet customers, answer emails, accurately file documents, and manage records. Excellent organizational and customer service skills are needed, though no specific training is required.
  • Build trust and relationships with community members. Provide education, perform assessments, and coordinate services through home visiting and care coordination. No specific education is required but connection to your community is a must. Some localities may prefer certification, find out more here.
  • Work with agency staff and vendors to identify agency needs for informatics, reporting, and data analysis; plan and oversee the development, implementation, and maintenance of database systems. Ensure these products meet legal and security requirements. Strong computer skills (especially in database management, IT infrastructure, SQL) are a must.
  • Investigate reported, suspected, and potential cases of infectious diseases, and intervene where necessary. May serve as community engagement specialists or patient navigators. Recommend testing/screening and refer positive patients to care. Assist in statewide screening programs, and/or meet patients in their homes and communities. Great interpersonal skills, empathy, and persistence needed. No specific education is required; some locations prefer certification. Find out more here.
  • Public health organizations frequently respond to emergencies and disasters. Quickly communicate clear information - such as risks and actions to take - to the public during emergencies and disasters. A background in communications, PR, writing, or English likely required.
  • Provide day-to-day administrative and programmatic functions to prepare for and respond to natural and man-made public health emergencies. Ensure compliance to federal programs and collaborate with partners to increase effectiveness. Directors set strategy and lead emergency response coordination activities. Requirements vary; a Bachelor’s degree and relevant programmatic and/or emergency response experience
  • Identify, assess, and remediate health risks; conduct reviews of reports, construction plans, etc.; advise officials on public health engineering problems, including measures for improvement and compliance with legal requirements. Assist in the enforcement of public health laws, investigate engineering conditions, and prepare technical reports. Bachelor’s degree in engineering required.
  • Serve as a scientist and storyteller to make public health data useful for internal and external stakeholders. Conduct investigations, identifying disease trends and outbreaks. Gather data that describes the community’s health and conduct statistical analysis of the data. Provide interpretation and illustration of data for the health department and to the community. Propose practices or policies that preserve or promote public health. Master’s degree in public health with a specialization in epidemiology usually required. Find out more here.  
  • Design and implement grant projects and other activities required to support, sustain, and grow programs. Handle reporting, tracking, compliance with grant requirements, budget review, expense monitoring, project management, technical assistance, and document tracking. Experience is generally preferred; educational backgrounds vary.
  • Provide and manage education programs that improve community health. Identify community needs and assets prior to planning, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating public health programs and activities. Participate on community coalitions, committees, and task forces, and promote public health programs and services. Degree in public health and/or Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) may be preferred. Find out more here.
  • Collects, analyzes, queries, reports, and visualizes data from a variety of different domains. Can include data cleaning, quality, collection, statistical analysis, coding, reporting, and data visualization. Bachelor’s degree with a major in computer science, business or systems information, or a related field; skills in R, Python, SAS, SQL, Access, Tableau often required. Find out more here.
  • Sets strategic direction of the organization with responsibility for programs and activities of the health department. Represents department to the residents, public officials, and community stakeholders. Provides policy and program guidance. Several years’ leadership experience and a public health, nursing, or medical degree is usually required.
  • Performs analyses of human tissue, body fluids, and environmental sources (such as food and water). Tests range from basic to highly complex, and require knowledge of microbiology, chemistry, immunology, and/or other disciplines. All tests are performed under a quality management system, compliant with regulatory requirements. May rotate through the various areas of the laboratory, including: clinical and environmental microbiology, molecular diagnostics, newborn screening, immunology, toxicology and environmental chemistry. Bachelor’s Degree in a life science (e.g., microbiology, biology, chemistry, biochemistry, clinical or medical laboratory science) usually required; additional licenses such as Clinical Laboratory Scientist Generalist (CLS-G) or a Clinical Laboratory Scientist Specialist (CLS-S) may be needed. Some entry-level work as lab technician also available. Find out more here: APHL and CDC.
  • Helps implement local elements of federal food assistance programs; builds partnerships with community organizations, designs trainings and events around good nutrition. May provide programs on obesity prevention, or special programs for women, infants, and children. May require certification, such as Registered Dietitian (RD) or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). Find out more here.
  • Assists in planning, developing, modifying, and implementing policy and strategic plans. May conduct research. Evaluate programs and initiatives, assist in preparing reports and presentations, and work with clients, partners, outside vendors, and management. Bachelor’s degree in public health, nursing, public policy, health administration, community health, health promotion, health education, community development or a closely related field generally required.
  • Plans, directs, coordinates, and provides day-to-day administrative and programmatic oversight of a public health program. Ensures program quality and collaborates with stakeholders. May provide technical assistance & training. Evaluates programs for compliance with state and/or federal guidelines. Requirements vary; a Bachelor's degree in a related field and experience may be needed.
  • Works on program design and implementation. Manages programs or provides technical assistance to various organizations. Public health or related degree and/or experience usually required.
  • Focuses on improving population health by emphasizing prevention and the social determinants of health. Includes advocacy, policy development, and health planning. Addresses issues of social justice and health equity. Performs services focusing on prevention including: family planning, child health, adult health, sexually transmitted disease, preparedness, communicable disease, breast and cervical cancer Control Program, refugee health, tuberculosis, immunizations, and primary care (for a few examples). Nursing degree (typically RN) required. Find out more here.
  • Helps ensure that the health department is viewed as a credible source of health information. Provides residents with clear public health messages and resources. Handles media requests, develops responses to inquiries, and coordinates with internal programs and external partners to strengthen department messaging. Excellent written and verbal communication skills and marketing/media skills required.
  • Conducts environmental health inspections and evaluations of facilities like restaurants, swimming pools, day care centers, etc. Makes recommendations for action requiring departmental approval, license, or permit. Conducts health inspection enforcement, permitting, education, and reporting. Bachelor's degree in the field of environmental health, biological, chemical/physical sciences, engineering, or other area required. Registered Environmental Health Specialist, Registered Environmental Health Specialist-in-Training, or eligibility is often required. Find out more here.

And many more!

Connect with Local, State, and Territorial Health Departments

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