Public Health Job Description and Duties
Learn what you can do in the public health industry.
What you'll do: Public health workers take a macro approach to the health care field, focusing on the physical, mental and environmental health of populations, and then individuals within those populations. Disease prevention and health promotion are at the forefront. You can choose to work in a variety of roles, including as a health educator, medical scientist, social worker, statistician or researcher.
Where you'll work: Hospitals, clinics, community health centers, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, health care consulting agencies, pharmaceutical companies, research firms, state and local health departments.
Degree you'll need to practice: Bachelor's or master's degree
Median annual salary: $45,830*
Cities with the highest employment level: New York, NY; Atlanta, GA; Los Angeles, CA; Philadelphia, PA; Washington, D.C.; Bethesda, MD; Chicago, IL; Boston, MA; Houston, TX; Phoenix, AZ.
Public health workers choose varied paths. Some of your daily work will be administrative, done in an office. Other tasks will require you to go out into the community to work with people.
For example, in public health you can keep a flu epidemic at bay by encouraging vaccinations; help shape government responses to environmental disasters and educate the public about how to prepare; or help under-served populations to access health care services.
You can become a case manager, project manager, director or analyst in a variety of specialties, such as:
- Behavioral science/health education
- Environmental health
- Health services administration
- International/Global health
Because the term "public health" is a large umbrella that covers so many different careers, this field appeals to a wide range of people with diverse skills, interests and backgrounds. There are so many places you can go and ways you can help. Earning the Master of Public Health (MPH) degree will qualify public health workers for positions with increased responsibility.
The variety of jobs available makes public health a good fit for those who seek to use their abilities and passions for the public good.
*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.
Education and Career Guide
- Public Health Job Description Learn about the wide variety of public health jobs.
- Choose a Degree Which public health degree is right for you? Find out.
- Job Outlook Read about the future of the public health field.
- Salary Information Find out what to expect in a public health career salary.
- Getting Your Degree Online Discover the benefits of earning a public health degree online.
- Health and Safety Achievements Read about the top 10 achievements in public health in the 20th century.
- Public Health Nursing Combine your interest in public health with a nursing career.
- History of the U.S. Public Health Service Learn how public health service started in the U.S.
- News & Headlines Find out how public health jobs relate to real-world events.