How To Become A Public Health Professional – Education, Careers, Job Descriptions And Salaries

Good health is one of the major desires of every living creature. Now, What Do Public Health Professionals Do? The primary goals of public health are the avoidance of illness and the enhancement of human existence in general. The findings of recent studies make it abundantly evident that the significance of maintaining good public health cannot be overemphasized. This is why we have chosen to look at how to become a public health professional.

Public health as a course of study is very vast and as such so many universities and colleges have developed corresponding curricula to touch on the various aspects of public health. In a report. Although the education required to become a public health professional can be said to be demanding, the pertinence of the field is worth it. A survey by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that improvement in public health practices has contributed immensely to the life expectancy of persons living in the United States.

As stated earlier, public health is vast, and as such we are going to cover everything you need to know about public health in this post. Continue reading to know what is public health, who is a public health professional and how to become a public health professional. How to become a public health consultant. What do public health professionals do? Where do public health professionals work? Public health degree careers and highest paid public health jobs and salaries.

Table of Contents

What Is Public Health?

The field of study known as public health is the branch of science that focuses on both preserving and improving the overall health of people and the communities in which they live. Monitoring, preventing, and reacting to outbreaks of illness are all part of this responsibility. Public health comprises teaching individuals about self-care and healthy lives, as well as advocating for those lifestyles.

In addition to this, a significant amount of study is required in order to determine the factors that contribute to illness, disability, and natural disasters and to develop solutions. The primary goal of the study of public health is to enhance the overall quality of life of people across the world and to lessen the amount of suffering they experience.

Who Is A Public Health Professional?

Public health has been defined as “the science and art of avoiding disease, extending life and promoting health through the coordinated efforts and informed decisions of society, organisations, public and private, communities and individuals”. The person who does this is called a public health professional.

The public health professional does the basis of public health which is analyzing the determinants of health of a population and the challenges it. Public, as used in this regard, can consist of as few as a few people or as many as all of the inhabitants of a town or city; in the event of a pandemic, the public may even extend over multiple continents.

The idea of health takes into consideration physical, psychological, and social well-being. Hence a public health professional is one who studied public health as described above and carries out research to improve the overall health conditions of the public.

How Can I Become A Public Health Professional?

Many people who seek to know how to become a public health professional have come across different handouts on that. In this post, we are going to briefly answer your question, how can I become a public health professional. We are going to discuss extensively the education requirements to become a public health professional. You will also learn the step-by-step guide to becoming a public health professional.

Becoming a public health professional requires getting the necessary education and passing the required exams. In states or regions where they require licensing, you must meet the criteria to be licensed as a public health professional.

Step By Step Guide To Become A Public Health Professional

A certain level of education will be required for a career in public health, despite the fact that the prerequisites for becoming a public health professional could change depending on the field. The following are the actions that need to be taken in order to make a profession in public health a reality.

  1. Get An Associate Degree

An associate degree, which typically takes two years to complete, is a great way to get started in the subject of public health. Students will get an understanding of the fundamentals, including the objectives of public health professionals and the potential obstacles they may encounter. The student’s coursework could also concentrate on national, federal, or even international legislation.

However, graduates with an associate degree in public health may be eligible to apply for some entry-level employment as well as administrative support jobs. The majority of public health vocations require a more advanced degree. Additionally, if a student wishes to continue their education in the same subject, the credits earned toward an associate degree will normally transfer and can be utilised toward the completion of a bachelor’s degree.

For several careers in the field of public health, a bachelor’s degree is the absolute minimum need. Obtaining a Bachelor of Arts (B.A) or Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in public health may be possible, depending on the college. Either one ought to provide students with a comprehensive educational foundation in public health, enabling them to select a master’s programme that is tailored to meet their specific requirements.

Those who are interested in pursuing graduate degrees can begin their education with a bachelor’s degree and then specialise via the usage of electives.

  1. Get A Master’s Degree In Public Health

A Master of Public Health also known as an MPH degree is a professional degree that focuses on practical application and enables graduates to take leadership roles in local, state, federal, and international public health environments. Just as the bachelor’s degree, it’s either a Master of Arts (M.A) or Master of Science (M.Sc.).

The student makes their decision on which to do (either M.A or M.Sc.) depending on their long-term career objectives. This degree is required for epidemiologists, health educators with postgraduate degrees, and researchers who conduct health surveys. MPH and MSPH are two of the most frequent graduate degrees in public health.

  1. Get Work Experience

After obtaining your bachelor’s and master’s degrees in public health, the next step to becoming a public health professional is to gain work experience. This is absolutely necessary for a PhD in public health. Applicants to PhD programmes in public health who have previous work experience are given preference. The required experience can be gotten through internships, volunteering or part-time employment in health related sectors.

Students in higher education would benefit tremendously from the pre-professional experience. Not only does having this kind of job experience make graduates more well-rounded, but it also improves learning outcomes since it allows students to put what they’ve learned into perspective. Pick work experience that aligns with the goals you want to achieve. Experience in the field and conducting research is necessary for everyone interested in epidemiology.

  1. Get A Doctorate Degree

This is more or less the crown of academic sojourn. A doctoral degree in Public health is almost always required for a position as a medical scientist. It is necessary for advanced research or teaching at the college or university level. In addition, students will be required to select the appropriate kind of doctoral degree to pursue based on the kind of work they intend to do.

For instance, the PhD is better suited for individuals who are interested in either teaching or conducting research. After that, it is customarily expected of students that they will pick a specialty. Biostatistics, chronic disease epidemiology, environmental health, and health policy and management are a few examples specialties in public health that can be pursued while earning a doctorate in public health.

The above paragraphs are a detailed step-by-step guide on how to become a public health professional. Apart from these, in states, regions or countries where licensing is required, you can get your licence before going for a PhD.

What Do Public Health Professionals Do?

It is essential to keep in mind that the field of public health encompasses a wide variety of professional paths. Each of these career paths in public health has a unique set of responsibilities. The day-to-day responsibilities of one public health professional will be different from those of another.

On the other hand, the eventual purpose for all professionals working in public health is the same. That is to protect the general welfare. They strive at reducing the health disparities that exist and promoting fairness, quality, and accessibility in healthcare for everyone. In summary, the overall functions of the public health professionals can be classified into:

  • Protection of Public Health

Public health professionals ensure the protection of public health. The major aim of public health professionals is to prevent diseases and injury. Public health professionals monitor the spread of infectious illnesses and ensure healthy communities. They determine what causes sickness and disability and then provide cures, but on a larger scale.

  • Promotion Of Good Health Among The People

Public health workers, much like other types of medical professionals, strive to improve the overall health and well-being of the people or communities in which they are employed. They promote healthy behaviours and educate individuals (or groups) on how to develop and maintain healthy habits and how to properly care for oneself.

This might entail working with individuals on nourishing and healthy dietary habits, or it could mean highlighting the significance of maintaining a healthy mental state.

  • Research, Develop And Implement Programs For Change

Public health professionals, such as researchers, practitioners, and educators, are tasked with the responsibility of investigating, designing, and putting into action innovative programmes for the betterment of society. They put a stop to pollution of the air and water in certain regions across the world. They also combat obesity, diabetes and other endemic diseases in the communities where they work.

As part of their efforts to combat the opioid epidemic in the United States, public health professionals are focusing on a number of issues related to overdose deaths, drug trafficking, and the delivery of newborns with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

If you still ask, What Do Public Health Professionals Do? The following is a list of some further examples of what public health professionals do on a regular basis:

  • They enlighten the public on how addiction may be avoided with the proper knowledge about the perils of alcohol and drugs.
  • Advancing environmentally responsible business practices as a means of protecting the natural world
  • Controlling smoking to shield individuals from the dangers of lung illness and secondhand smoke
  • Developing preventative measures and several other strategies to put an end to bullying in schools
  • Education about nutrition in schools to ensure that students have healthy diets
  • Finding the root causes of cancer and working to avoid it.
  • Offers medical care along with a variety of other services even to the most remote places.
  • Prevention of the spread of HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases in communities where they are attached.
  • Taking precautionary steps and providing safety precautions for employees while they are on the job
  • They develop Vaccines against diseases.
  • They research and also profer solutions to autism

Where Do Public Health Professionals Work?

People who are not familiar with the public health profession could have the misconception that employment opportunities are exclusively available in particular environments, such as government agencies.

However, because public health is involved in practically every facet of contemporary life, graduates may discover that they have the option to work for a variety of organisations and in a wide range of environments. The public health professional can work in any of the following places.

  1. Hospitals and Health Centres

Public health professionals are increasingly being relied upon to manage complicated combinations of medical treatments. They also carry out scientific developments, creative wellness programmes, and other aspects of the ever-evolving health care profession.

These include: Policy formulation, finance, economics, marketing, long-range planning, management, applied science, information technology, and human and financial resource stewardship are in great demand.

Social workers in medical facilities coach and support patients’ additional health care requirements. This involves linking patients with counselling services and helping them build their social support network. They can also help patients in coordinating their medicine, therapy, nursing, and other requirements.

  1. Departments Of Public Health In States And Municipals

State and municipal health departments in the United States are responsible for improving public health via programmes, legislative initiatives, and research. It employs over a thousand public health professionals in the United States alone. Many state and local health departments work with social services. These organisations address behavioural, environmental, and physical health challenges.

  1. Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC)

The CDC is the most consulted agency on public health concerns in the U.S. The agency employs scientists, physicians, nurses, economists, communicators, educators, technicians, epidemiologists, toxicologists, and public health consultants. It handles disease outbreaks, food and water safety, environmental dangers, injuries, and other threats to public health, including bioterrorism.

  1. College And Universities

A public health professional can work as a lecturer in colleges or universities. Although this profession requires postgraduate studies or higher academic qualifications such as a Master’s or PhD. The college and university professors equip public health students for real-world situations.

Academic institutions welcome applications from all aspects of public health. This comprises

  1. Health Insurance Facilities

Health insurance companies support public health. Managed care and health service delivery businesses have enormous health databases. They utilise this data to spot patterns, implement health campaigns, prevent sickness, and reach disadvantaged communities.

Modern accountable care organisations use a population health management strategy to enhance service and save costs. Public health professionals manage, lead and educate companies beyond treating diseases to avoiding preventable illnesses, minimising needless care, and promoting health and wellbeing.

  1. Corporate Bodies

Recently, major firms have embraced corporate responsibility. Public health professionals can work with the private sector in formulating health care policy and discovering, developing, and manufacturing medications.

  1. Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs)

International organisations help unite the public health industry’s aims in a global, linked society. Niche organisations focused on certain diseases, health challenges, or communities also contribute. Numerous consumer advocacy groups and volunteer health agencies provide meaningful work for public health students and professionals.

What Are The In-Demand Skills For Public Health Professionals?

Public health professionals as well as students who are working on a degree in public health study more than simply the fundamentals of their discipline during their studies. Additionally, they get skills that are easily transferable to occupations even beyond the realm of public health.

Because of this, entering this area as an undergraduate student can be a wise decision, even for those who are unsure about whether or not they want to pursue a master’s degree in public health. If they decide to not continue in their sector, they can still use their talents to find work in a different industry. Below are the in-demand skills for public health professionals.

  • Good Communication Skills (Oral and Written)

Public health practitioners spend much of their day communicating, regardless of location. This communication may involve one-on-one conversations with clients and team members or the establishment of public service initiatives.

Writing abilities can help graduates in any job they choose after graduation, whether it’s public health or another. Technical writers should be informed about public health and be able to write well. After gaining communication skills, students may be qualified for careers in management, marketing, sales, and customer service.

  • Attention To Detail And Organisational Skills

Public health jobs require strong community and project management abilities. To be successful, they must recognise needs and find out how to satisfy them in a way that drives a community to support the initiative.

Public health degree students may gain organisational and community-building abilities. Public health specialists may handle multifaceted programmes and increase group participation. They may be good prospects for a job in companies and non-profits.

  • Research Skills

Research is an element of almost every public health job, but those in biostatistics and epidemiology are experts. All accredited degree programmes must train in these two areas. Public Health Research is applicable to many other fields. Data collection, analysis, and presentation can open doors in academia and industry.

  • Analytical Skills

The description of the factors that affect a community’s health and the ability to identify and determine the data and information needed for assessing community health are skills necessary for public health professionals. They should possess the application of ethical standards in the process of collecting, analysing, using, and disseminating data. The use of information technology; the selection of valid and reliable data, the identification of gaps in data and others.

  • Program Planning Skills

This position involves articulating organisational strategic plans, planning health improvement and establishing programme goals and objectives, and devising and implementing techniques for continuous quality improvement.

  • Cultural Competency Skills

The Public health professional should be able to describe diversity’s applicability to individuals and populations. He must as well describe its influence on a community’s policies, programmes, and services, as well as its general health. Explain the value of a diversified public health workforce.

  • Financial Planning And Management Skills

This area includes creating funding bids and administering programmes within existing and expected budgets and staffing levels. He also encourages people to accomplish programme and organisational goals. The public health professional must possess the ability to use employment management systems to improve programmes and organisations.

Highest Paid Public Health Degree Jobs/Careers And Salaries

There are a lot of careers possible for persons with a public health degree. This is because public health is a very broad field. This also means that anyone who is considering entering the public health profession has a wide variety of career/job possibilities to choose from.

Each of these careers has its own set of prerequisites in terms of education, training, and previous job experience. The following list provides an overview of some of the highest paid public health degree jobs/careers and salaries as of May 2021 according to the US Bureau Of Labour Statistics (BLS). The prerequisite educational requirements necessary to pursue these careers are also discussed.

  • Epidemiologist
  • Community Health Worker
  • Public Health Nurse
  • Dietitians and nutritionists
  • Microbiologists
  • Emergency Management Specialists (EMS)
  • Occupational Health and Safety Specialists

#1. Epidemiologist

An epidemiologist studies the causes and patterns of human illnesses, especially infectious diseases, to eliminate or reduce their detrimental effects. Epidemiologists plan, execute, collect, and analyse data to determine what causes illness and other health problems. Epidemiologists work in research and applied epidemiology. Universities and federal organisations often employ research-focused epidemiologists (like the CDC).

Applied epidemiologists are typically recruited by state and local governments to educate and survey the public on public health issues. With a public health degree, you can pursue a career as an epidemiologist.

Educational Requirements

Epidemiologists need a master’s in epidemiology, public health, or a related field. Doctoral degrees (PhD) are required to direct research and/or teach at the undergraduate and graduate levels.


  • $77,600/year
  • $37.31/hour

#2. Community Health Worker

Health Educators and Community Health Workers teach about health and wellness to improve overall health. Public health educators produce and present educational programmes and activities for local communities. They teach health care workers and other professionals, and more. Community Health Workers must grasp their community’s unique health problems and difficulties to counsel individuals and report their findings to health educators and specialists.

Educational Requirements

A bachelor’s degree in health education or health promotion is required for this job. Some employers demand Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) certification. Community health workers may find work with a high school diploma, but they may also need a certificate or associate’s degree.


  • $48,860/year
  • $23.49/hour

#3. Public Health Nurse

Public health nursing focuses on public health. A public health nurse improves community members’ health. The focus is on “community” needs, not individual patients. Non-geographical characteristics can also define a community.

Public health nurses work for government agencies or major commercial health organisations, educating and advocating for at-risk populations.

Educational Requirements

Becoming a public health nurse usually takes a bachelor’s degree, an associate’s degree, or a certification from an accredited nursing institution. Registered Nurses (RNs) must be licenced.


  • $77,600/year
  • $37.31/hour

#4. Dietitians And Nutritionists

Dietitians and nutritionists examine customers’ health and give dietary suggestions to overcome diet-related disorders and improve general health. They work with doctors and health care personnel to design dietary programmes for patients.

Dietitians and nutritionists work in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and private practice. They may oversee food service operations to assure quality, safety, and sanitation.

Educational Requirements

Dietitians and nutritionists usually need a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, dietetics, food services administration, or a related discipline. Many dietitians and nutritionists pursue advanced degrees, especially those who want supervisory jobs. Most states require licencing or certification.


  • $61,650/year
  • $29.64/hour

#5. Microbiologists

Microbiologists study microscopic organisms to understand their nature, growth, and interactions with humans. Many viruses, bacteria, algae, fungus, and parasites can infect humans.

Public health microbiologists research microorganisms to develop anti-infective medications. They create Improved seeds and biofuels. Microbiologists often cooperate with scientists from other fields and supervise technicians and other employees.

Educational Requirements

At least a bachelor’s degree in microbiology or a related field is required. Bachelor’s degree holders must have lab experience before finding a job. Independent research at a college or university requires a graduate degree, specifically a PhD in microbiology.


  • $79,260/year
  • $38.11/hour

#6. Emergency Management Specialists (EMS)

Emergency Management Specialists arrange preparedness and emergency response training before a disaster and coordinate crisis management and disaster response during a disaster. They need excellent organisational and communication abilities to oversee and coordinate the actions of firemen, paramedics, police officers, and others during disasters.

Educational Requirements

Emergency Management Specialist education requirements vary per employment. Most roles require a bachelor’s degree in emergency management, public safety, or a similar profession and two to five years of experience.


  • $76,730/year
  • $36.89/hour

#7. Occupational Health and Safety Specialists

Occupational Health and Safety Specialists analyse workplace health and safety concerns to eliminate illness and injury risks. They inspect workplaces for safety rules and regulations. OHS specialists design and implement workplace processes and procedures to improve working conditions.

They investigate accidents and incidents to determine the cause and find solutions to prevent future accidents and hazards and teach health and safety-related subjects like emergency preparedness.

Educational Requirements

Occupational Health and Safety Specialists often need a bachelor’s degree in safety, health, biology, or engineering. Health physics and industrial hygiene may need a master’s degree.


  • $74,870/year
  • $36.00/hour


Public health is a meaningful approach to improving and protecting health while earning personal pleasure, decent pay, rising employment prospects, and professional perks. This vital public health position includes safeguarding vulnerable populations and the environment, and studying and using data to promote health. Public health professionals promote public health at home and abroad while gaining personal and professional rewards.

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