The variety of public health careers creates plenty of opportunities for professionals.

' 'Keeping communities healthy and safe takes a lot of work—and a lot of public health workers. But who are these workers and is now a good time to join them?

Answering that question requires understanding what public health is. Many think of it as analogous to health departments and similar government agencies, but that’s only partly correct. The public health field also includes professionals in the nonprofit, private, and academic sectors. If your job deals with protecting and improving the health and well-being of communities, you work in public health.

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Public health is such an extensive field that estimates vary for the number of people employed as public health professionals. A 2012 University of Michigan Center of Excellence in Public Health Workforce Studies put the number of public health workers in the U.S. somewhere between 303,000 and 516,000.1 And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, opportunities in the field continue to grow.

Where Public Health Professionals Work

Many different organizations employ public health professionals. You can find people working in public health at:

  • Global health organizations
  • Government health and human services agencies
  • Health research labs
  • Hospitals and other medical facilities
  • Human resource departments of corporations
  • Insurance agencies
  • Local and state health departments
  • Nonprofits focused on health and/or the environment
  • Think tanks
  • Universities and other academic settings

Fields of Public Health

Public health encompasses many different fields. These include:

  • Behavioral and social: Focused on studying and improving the life choices and social conditions that affect health.
  • Biostatistics: Focused on collecting and analyzing health data to uncover health trends within populations.
  • Community health: Focused on using the wealth of public health knowledge to reach vulnerable communities and supply the resources/education they need to improve health and safety.
  • Epidemiology: Focused on monitoring and understanding the spread of diseases.
  • Emergency management: Focused on preparing for and responding to the public health threats created by natural and manmade disasters.
  • Environmental health: Focused on understanding and addressing environmental factors that affect people’s health.
  • Food safety: Focused on ensuring food supplies are safe and accessible.
  • Global health: Focused on understanding and addressing health threats that cross national borders.
  • Health disparities: Focused on understanding and addressing health disparities between populations, typically focusing on the racial and/or economic disparities that lead to poorer health.
  • Health policy: Focused on advocating for and implementing laws and regulations designed to improve health and/or safety.
  • Health promotion: Focused on communicating with communities about health threats and ways to live healthier.
  • Maternal and child health: Focused on improving maternal care, infant care, and the care of young children.
  • Mental health: Focused on addressing mental health problems through awareness and intervention.
  • Occupational health: Focused on ensuring workplaces are safe and accessible.
  • Substance abuse: Focused on reducing substance abuse and helping communities overcome its effects.

Types of Public Health Careers

Every field of public health has people working in a variety of roles. Some of these roles require years of training and/or advanced degrees, but many jobs are available to entry-level professionals or can be reached after a short time within public health. These include such jobs as:

  • Director of rehabilitation
  • Public administrator
  • Epidemiologist
  • Community health worker
  • Healthcare administrator
  • Policy analyst
  • Community outreach coordinator
  • Health services manager
  • Health officer
  • Operations manager
  • Program director
  • Public health emergency preparedness coordinator
  • Public health program specialist
  • Public health information officer

While the demand for each job varies, data suggests the overall need for public health workers is on the rise. For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs for health educators and community health workers is expected to increase by 16% between 2016 and 2026, a rate that’s much faster than average.2 Jobs for epidemiologists are projected to increase by 9% over the same span,3 while jobs for medical and health services managers are expected to increase by 20%.4

How to Start a Public Health Career

If you’re looking for opportunities in public health, you should consider earning a BS in Public Health. Through a bachelor’s in public health program, you can gain the knowledge, skills, and qualifications you need to prepare for a public health career. Best of all, you can earn your BS in Public Health degree online.

An online public health program allows you to earn your degree from wherever you are right now. No moving necessary. And no need to completely rearrange your schedule, either. An online public health degree program gives you the power to take your classes at whatever time of day works best for you—a convenience that makes it possible to earn a public health degree while you continue to work full time.

With so many fields and roles, public health offers many career opportunities. And thanks to online education, you can earn a BS in Public Health and put yourself in a position to land an in-demand public health job.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a BS in Public Health degree programs online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


1Source: www.phf.org/resourcestools/Documents/UM_CEPHS_Enumeration2012_Revised_July_2013.pdf
2Source: www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/health-educators.htm
3Source: www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/epidemiologists.htm
4Source: www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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