Does the idea of helping people and working in a public health care setting sound appealing to you? Over 2 million health care jobs will be added by 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
An annual survey conducted by the American Hospital Association revealed that of the 6,210 hospitals in the U.S., 4,888 are public health facilities, so public health jobs are plentiful. Read on for more information on where to find public health jobs, salaries and learn more about this growing field.
Main Takeaways: Getting a Public Health Job
- Jobs in public health require a degree. Depending on the seniority of your position, and the tasks you must perform, higher education is necessary.
- Public health careers fall under many job titles. We explore types of positions, their job functions, and salaries below.
- Organized and patient individuals excel in this field. As you will be dealing with difficult situations that directly affect others, there are skills that are needed for public health jobs.
- Main Takeaways: Getting a Public Health Job
- What Does a Public Health Job Entail?
- Do I Need a Public Health Degree to Work in this Field?
- Types of Public Health Jobs and Titles
- Salary Ranges and Expectations for Public Health Jobs
- Projected Growth Rate of the Public Health Field
- How to Get a Public Health Job
- Top 8 Skills to Be Successful in a Public Health Job
- Make a Difference in Your Community
What Does a Public Health Job Entail?
Public health jobs involve working for nonprofit hospitals, clinics or health care centers. These facilities are owned by public entities such as federal and state governments and provide health care to local and community residents and encompass many different job classifications.
Do I Need a Public Health Degree to Work in this Field?
Some entry-level public health jobs don’t require a degree and others may require certifications in specialized areas such as medical records or healthcare-related communication courses. Jobs that don’t require a degree include patient transporter, home health aide and nursing assistant.
Here are some examples of educational requirements for several public health jobs:
|Job Title||Degree Required|
|Health informatics professional||Bachelor’s or master’s degree|
|Public health administrator||Master’s degree|
|Global health care administrator||Master’s or doctoral degree|
|Health scientist||Doctoral degree|
Be sure to research academic requirements and consult with an academic advisor if you’re in college and interested in a public health degree.
Types of Public Health Jobs and Titles
Let’s take a look at examples of public health jobs and titles that fall under the broad category of public health careers.
Entry-Level Public Health Jobs
Entry-level public health jobs, such as patient transporter, health care aide and certified nursing assistant, require little or no experience, a high school diploma and specialty certifications in some cases.
These types of jobs can serve as stepping stones to senior-level positions. You can get your foot in the door with an entry-level job to see if working in a hospital is right for you. Entry-level public health jobs might require you to perform basic tasks such as filing medical records.
Health Care Administrator Jobs
Health care administrators, also called hospital administrators or nursing administrators, oversee clinics, hospitals, physicians, nurses or departments. They manage operations to ensure the quality and efficiency of medical care. A master’s degree in health care management and administration is preferred. Job duties might include staff scheduling, budgeting and developing policies and procedures.
Health Informatics Jobs
Health informatics is an evolving specialty field that involves connecting health care with communication and technology to improve patient quality and care. Job duties are varied for health informatics positions. Here are a few tasks a nursing informatics specialist might perform:
- Train nurses on the latest patient care technology programs
- Interpret vital medical data and information gathered from hospital computer systems
- Improve IT systems responsible for tracking patient charts and medical records
This field is also a subset of certain data analyst jobs as well.
Health Science Jobs
Health science jobs include job categories such as medical research scientists, health care educators and bio technicians. Daily tasks vary according to job classification, but generally, most require complex research and advanced degrees.
Public Health Administrator Jobs
Public health administrators, clinical administrators or hospital administrators typically work for government-run hospitals and clinics and ensure that high-quality health care programs and services are provided to the community. You might:
- Develop community outreach programs
- Address outbreaks of specific diseases that affect a community
- Educate the public on the prevention of diseases and health insurance changes
Global Health Jobs
Global health jobs involve delivering health care to residents of developing nations. Organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer opportunities across a wide range of job categories. Job duties might include assessing patients, taking vitals and delivering emergency care and include public health advisors, medical officers and global health physicians.
Salary Ranges and Expectations for Public Health Jobs
Salaries for public health jobs vary according to job title, but here are a few examples according to Payscale.com:
- Health educator: $42,564
- Public health specialist: $53,081
- Public health nurse: $58,779
- Public health analyst: $60,973
Projected Growth Rate of the Public Health Field
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that health care occupations are projected to grow 24% by 2026, much higher than most occupations. Of course, there are different rates depending on the type of health care job, but overall, the job front for this field looks positive.
How to Get a Public Health Job
Once you’ve acquired the appropriate education, certifications and credentials, how do you get a public health job? Here are some strategies we recommend to jump-start your job search:
Sign up for an internship. Are you currently attending college or are you a recent graduate? You can take advantage of your school’s internship programs. Some internships are paid, and even if you get one that isn’t, the experience is invaluable. It’s the best on-the-job training you can get.
Join professional groups. Professional groups, Facebook pages and other networking groups related to your field of choice give you access to job postings and other job search resources.
Register with an employment agency. Staffing agencies specialize in helping you find the perfect job. You might be able to find a part-time or contract position, but these jobs often transition into permanent and full-time roles.
Look for opportunities at public service organizations. Research the career sections on job sites for organizations such as the Peace Corps, American Red Cross, CDC and the World Health Organization, which often hire for a variety of public health jobs.
Find your specialty. The more specialized you are, the more marketable you’ll be to employers. For example, you might choose a specialty such as pediatrics or geriatrics If you’re a public health nurse.
Amp up your resume. Highlight any health care jobs as well as your most current certifications and degrees and have your resume reviewed by a professional resume writer.
Volunteer. Many hospitals and clinics welcome volunteers to help with assisting patients in front offices, transporting patients and many other duties. You can also volunteer for a healthcare-related charity or local hospice. Volunteering looks great on your resume and gives you the chance to gain valuable experience.
Apply on legitimate job search engines. Search for and apply for jobs on credible job sites. Target your job search by entering keywords related to your ideal job. You can also scour search engines that focus on health care jobs such as healthecareers.com.
Top 8 Skills to Be Successful in a Public Health Job
Not everyone is cut out to work in the public health sector, but certain skills will give you an edge. Here are the top skills you need to be successful in a public health job.
1. Communication Skills
You’ll need to be able to effectively communicate with patients and their families, colleagues, business partners and leaders. For example, public nursing administrators need good communication skills to train staff.
2. Technical Skills
Many health care environment tasks are now digitized, including medical records, so you must be tech-savvy. You’ll likely need to learn several different software programs and computer systems.
3. Organizational Skills
Public health centers and hospitals can be crowded and filled to capacity, so good organizational skills are a must. You’ll need to be organized and on top of your game, with efficient systems in place for filing paperwork and tracking patient data.
4. Time Management Skills
Since many hospitals and clinics are open 24/7, you’ll be working in a fast-paced environment, which requires excellent time management skills. Juggling and prioritizing multiple tasks will be a typical part of your day.
5. Relationship-Building Skills
You’ll develop relationships with medical staff members, patients and their family members, which requires a high level of trust and confidence. You’ll also deal with people from diverse economic and cultural backgrounds, so you’ll need to be sensitive and compassionate.
6. Leadership Skills
People will look to you for answers, advice and direction whether you’re a public health nurse or a public health educator. You’ll need to be an authoritative leader and be confident in making decisions.
7. Research Skills
Working in a public health setting requires good research skills, as you may need to research patient history or look up a rare disease. In any case, you need to know where to look for data to support your decisions and recommendations.
8. Critical Thinking Skills
Good critical thinking skills will be required even if you have an entry-level role in a health care environment, such as a patient transporter. For example, you’ll need to think and act quickly with a patient who might be experiencing a medical emergency.
Make a Difference in Your Community
A public health career allows you to provide care for all walks of life, regardless of their income and health care status. Depending on your level of involvement, you can impact public health care policies and suggest improvements. And since the job market for this field is so varied and offers a lot of growth opportunities, you’ll likely have job security and a solid plan for retirement.