Public Health Job Description and Duties

Find out how you can make an impact in a public health career.

public health nurse treating child

From case managers to directors to analysts, there are a variety of roles to fill. Most public health workers specialize in a certain area such as behavioral science and health education, biostatistics, international global health and epidemiology. 

Your work may bring you to areas with underserved populations or environmental disasters. Other days, you may be in an office filing paperwork or meeting with colleagues and clients. The role of a public health worker is one with many responsibilities and requires an open mind, flexibility and patience. You have to be prepared to provide help without the expectation of gratitude in many cases.

What does a public health worker do?

Vaccinations. Workplace safety. Control of infectious diseases. These are just a few major achievements that occurred in the 20th century. Who was responsible for these advances? Public health workers.

The spectrum of public health careers is wide, but some of the most common jobs are health educators, medical scientists (epidemiologists), social workers and statisticians. Each role has their own unique responsibilities, so we've compiled a list of some of the tasks that exist in all or some of the careers.

  • Advocate for patients and clients
  • Plan rehabilitation care
  • Coordinate patients' discharge from health care facility
  • Respond to environmental disasters or other crisis situations
  • Collect and analyze data
  • Plan and conduct public health studies
  • Provide individual or group counseling
  • Refer patients or clients to assistance programs

What career paths can I take in public health?

Public health is a huge field and all types of jobs are necessary to improve the world we live in. This sector offers dozens of opportunities for all types of personalities and skill sets. Because of the variety and job demand, there's also room for advancement as you gain experience in your career. Some of the roles that may interest you include:

  1. Director of Environmental Health
  2. Project Manager
  3. Health Administrator
  4. Health Educator
  5. Public Health Officer
  6. Clinical Trials Analyst
  7. Social Worker
  8. Statistician
  9. Water Quality Investigator
  10. Infection Control Officer

Learn more about what you can earn.