What Can You Do with a Public Health Degree?

Having a degree in public health opens many doors in terms of career paths. Depending on what level of degree, public health employers seek out graduates for different reasons. At the bachelor’s level, individuals have a solid understanding of public health from a broad perspective, so careers without a specialization or emphasis are a best fit for this degree. At the master’s level, individuals typically choose a specialty, which can provide more expertise that is needed by employers for positions which a specific purpose, such as Epidemiology or Biostatistics. With a PhD, individuals have the most in-depth knowledge of the research associated with their specialization, so employers in research and development, education, or management will usually seek out graduates at this level.

If you have a bachelor’s degree:

Community Health Specialist

Individuals with this career manage different specified illnesses and their exposure in select populations. These specialists work closely with epidemiologists and disease specialists to conduct outbreak investigations and provide site management in the case of exposures. Some of the responsibilities of Community Health Specialists include: (1) improving social service systems, (2) helping families gain access to resources, (3) facilitating communications between government and the population, (4) advocating for the public need, (5) providing social support, and (6) providing basic health services.

Quality Improvement Coordinator

Individuals work in coordination with public health education programs to assist with the improvement in their efficiency. Some of their responsibilities include, (1) conducting site reviews, (2) tracking data and managing input, (3) responding to questions or concerns surrounding the programs, (4) generating documents and site reports, and (5) coordinating public health programs entirely.

Public Health Administrator

Public Health Administrators are responsible for the planning and implementation of disease prevention programs and public services. They also ensure that the quality of these programs is up to par in accordance to national recommendations and make changes or improvements if necessary. Individuals may work as a connecting source between local prevention agencies and policies regarding public health programming. Other responsibilities may include: Job duties of public health administrators include: (1) assessing community health issues, (2) educating the public on the prevention or alleviation of health problems, (3) executing community outreach program, (4) addressing chronic problems afflicting a specific community or population, (5) writing grant proposals and heading up fundraising efforts, and (6) balancing limited budgets and allocating funds where needed.

Research Assistant

Research Assistants in public health can work for laboratories, colleges, or research agencies to help find answers to health-related questions. Typically, research will be within a specific domain of public health. Typical responsibilities can include: (1) conducting literature reviews, (2) collecting and analyzing data, (3) preparing materials for submission to granting agencies and foundations, (4) preparing materials for Human Subjects Committee reviews, (5) preparing interview questions, (6) recruiting and interviewing subject, (7) maintaining accurate records of interviews and safeguarding the confidentiality of subjects, (8) summarizing interviews, providing access to all experimental data for the those involved in the research, (9) requesting or acquiring equipment or supplies for the project, and (10) managing and responding to project related.

Prevention Specialist

Prevention Specialists focus on preventative services for the communities. The responsibilities within this field include the planning of preventative services and programs, communication with the public regarding these programs, and the evaluation of program efficiency on a regular basis. Other responsibilities can include: (1) attending training sessions, (2) participating in case conferences or staff meetings, (3) counseling clients or patients, individually or in group sessions, (4) completing and maintaining accurate records or reports regarding the patients’ histories and progress and services provided, (5) interview clients, reviewing records, and conferring with other professionals to evaluate individuals’ mental and physical condition to determine their suitability for participation in a specific program, (6) coordinating counseling efforts with mental health professionals and other health professionals, (7) reviewing and evaluating clients’ progress, (8) intervening as an advocate for clients or patients to resolve emergency problems in crisis situations and  (9) modifying treatment plans to comply with changes in client status.


If you have a master’s degree:

Public Health Educator

Educators in public health are responsible for focusing on different aspects of public health, such as nutrition, exercise, drug-use, and chronic disease. Educators may also promote their programs through advertising, public outreach, and through schools within the community. Other responsibilities can include: (1) collaborating with health specialists to determine community health needs and the availability of services to develop goals for meeting needs, (2) designing and conducting evaluations and diagnostic studies to assess the quality and performance of health education programs, (3) developing and presenting health education and promotion programs, (4) developing operational plans and policies necessary to achieve health education objectives and services, and (5) developing, conduct, and coordinating health needs assessments and other public health surveys.

Public Health Epidemiologist

Public Health Epidemiologists assist with collecting and analyzing data associated with diseases, illnesses, and injuries within designated areas. Epidemiologists are expected to create and maintain reports on their findings and deliver them to the appropriate source for data reporting. Some other responsibilities for Public Health Epidemiologists include: (1) planning and directing detailed studies of public health issues to discover ways to prevent them, (2) performing the collection and analysis of data, (3) communicating study findings to policymakers, practitioners and the general public, and (4) providing management of health programs by participating in program planning, monitoring program progress and performing data analysis.

Public Health Consultant

Public Health Consultants work to ensure that public health programs are providing the right level of services to the community. This can be achieved through evaluating an organization’s public health programs, treatment process, medicinal storage, and handling of materials. Consultants provide an analysis of their evaluation to the agency in which they are employed to recommend changes and improvements. Other responsibilities may include: (1) presenting findings and their opinions to government agencies or other entities so that they can use the data to develop policies and procedures, (2) counseling families and those in need to determine what options are available to them to improve health and well-being, (3) reviewing current programs and policies that target the public health and determine if they can be improved in one way or another, and (4) consulting with hospitals to determine if improved policies can reduce health risks.

Health Promotion Specialist

Health Promotion Specialists focus on providing educational information to the public to better their overall health and wellness by developing and improving public health education programs. Typical responsibilities for Health Promotion Specialists include: (1) designing, managing and promoting health improvement programs, (2) raising awareness of good health, diet and exercise through training and workshops, (3) giving advice to members of a community or social group, (4) devising health policies and schemes for assessing health needs, (5) liaising with, supporting the work of and providing expert advice to other voluntary, charity and statutory organizations, (6) keeping up to date with current health promotion trends, (7) supplying other organizations with specialist information and resources, (8) making presentations and writing reports, and (9) campaigning for the adoption and enhancement of national health promotion and preventative policies and measures.

Clinical Research Coordinator

Individuals in this field are responsible for collecting volunteers for studies, receiving all necessary consent paperwork prior to studies, assisting during the research process, and the analysis and delivery of results to proper agencies. Other responsibilities include: (1) participating in preparation and management of research budgets and monetary disbursements, (2) informing patients or caregivers about study aspects and outcomes, (3) coding, evaluating, or interpreting collected study data, (4) monitor study activities to ensure compliance with protocols and with all relevant local, federal, and state regulatory and institutional polices, and (5) maintaining required records of study activity including case report forms, drug dispensation records, or regulatory forms.

If you have a PhD:

Assistant Professor

As an Assistant Professor, individuals deliver knowledge to students that are seeking careers within the same field. Job responsibilities may include curriculum planning, implementation, grading, and mentoring. Other duties may include (1) developing professional logistics to improve student performance, (2) guiding, leading and mentoring students in research projects, (3) creating, innovating and implementing career-enhancement programs and activities, (4) supervising and supporting teaching assistants, (5) serving and supporting functional activities of departmental committees, and (6) assisting and supporting senior professors in their day-to-day tasks and functions.

Program Manager

Program Managers have responsibilities including (1) the planning and implementation of public health programs in specific areas, (2) the hiring and training of staff, and (3) financial management of relevant programs. Some Program Managers ensure that their programs are functioning in accordance to public health regulations and promote improvement when needed. Public health Program Managers generally fall into two categories: Clinical Managers and Health Information Managers. Clinical Managers (1) direct a given department by creating and maintaining the procedures and policies that direct the individuals under their supervision, (2) evaluate the performance of their clinical staff, and (3) perform general administrative functions. Health Information Managers are responsible for maintaining patient records by keeping them complete, up-to-date and secure.

Clinical Services Coordinator

Clinical Services Coordinators provide oversight during the delivery of administrative services in public health organizations. These individuals are responsible for developing and implementing helpful community public health programs and prevention services that are easily accessible by citizens. Other responsibilities include (1) ensuring adherence to departmental policies and procedures., (2) ensure services are following professional standards, state and federal regulatory requirements, (3) monitoring the research staff in effective and efficient use of laboratory and safety measures, and (4) coordinating inventory, order processing and distribution of products and services.

Research Director

Research Directors are responsible for overseeing research studies, data collection, and the delivery of reports. Directors report their findings to higher tier professionals within their research organizations. These individuals oversee a staff of researchers through standard recruiting requirements, study processes, and information delivery. Other responsibilities may include (1) maintaining an overall knowledge of top prospects to assist fundraisers in developing appropriate cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship strategies, (2) setting departmental and individual employee goals and provide routine evaluations of progress toward these goals, (3) identifying and promoting professional growth opportunities for staff, (4) developing and overseeing budgets and policies and procedures for the research department, and (5) evaluating research tools and emerging technology.

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