Public health is a very exciting and rapidly growing career field. You will be challenged to deal with all types of complicated health issues, including boosting access to care, controlling serious diseases, improving water and food quality, and generally helping at need communities to enjoy a better quality of life.

Public health offers a broad array of career possibilities that will suit many types of people with all sorts of skills. No matter if you are interested in doing research, crunching numbers, or helping people one on one, you will be able to find an exciting and rewarding career in public health. See also Top 7 Ways to Get Your Foot in the Door in Global Public Health

Some of the most popular and rewarding careers in public health include the following:

#1 Epidemiologist

An epidemiologist is a very highly trained public health professional who studies patterns and causes of diseases and injuries in people. The main role of an epidemiologist is to cut down the risk and occurrence of negative health situations and outcomes, by providing better community education and health policy.

What Do Epidemiologists Do?

Some of the key things that epidemiologists do include:

  • Plan and direct research of major public health problems to discover new ways to prevent and treat such problems

  • Collect large and diverse sets of data and then analyze it. This includes observations, interviews, blood and tissue samples and surveys. The purpose is to find the causes of major diseases.

  • Communicate discoveries and findings to policymakers, the public and public health leaders.

  • Set up public health programs to analyze data, monitor problems and find ways to improve the community.

For example, an epidemiologist may collect demographic data and then analyze it to discover who is most likely to suffer from a certain disease. (See also 100 Awesome Things An Epidemiologist May Do). They also can research trends in local populations of people who survived a major disease outbreak. Then, more effective treatments can be devised.

Where Do Epidemiologists Work?

The work environment for an epidemiologist can vary a great deal, because the specializations in the field vary highly. Many epidemiologists work in a laboratory or an office. Often they will work in the health department for the local or state government, in a hospital, or at a university. Some epidemiologists may primarily work in the field.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that 52% of epidemiologists worked for local or state governments in 2012. It can be surmised that most of those personnel are working in local and state government offices.

What Is an Epidemiologist’s Median Salary and Job Outlook?

BLS reports that the median salary in the field in 2012 was $65,270, with the top 10% earning more than $108,000.

Earnings vary widely depending upon where the epidemiologist works:

  • Research and development in life sciences: $92,000

  • Hospitals: $73,800

  • Universities: $66,900

  • State and local government: $59,000

Indeed.com reports that the average salary in the field is $61,000:

Regarding job outlook, the field will see average growth from 2012-22, with a job growth rate of 10%.

Related Epidemiology Career Video

#2 Biostatistician

A biostatistician is a specialized type of statistician that uses advanced statistical methods to collect/analyze data and to help to solve real world problems in public health.

What Do Biostatisticians Do?

Biostatisticians work in public health in the following ways:

  • Work in the application of statistical theories and methods to solve pressing public  health problems in at need communities

  • Determine which data are necessary to answer specific public health questions and issues

  • Determine the methods that are needed to find and collect critical public health data

  • Come up with surveys and experiments to collect needed public health information

  • Collect the data, and/or train public health staff to collect it

  • Analyze and interpret the information gathered

  • Report conclusions to public health and public policy leaders so better policy can be designed and implemented

Where Do Biostatisticians Work?

Statisticians generally work most often for government agencies:

  • Federal government: 17%

  • Education - state, local and private: 11%

  • State and local government: 9%

  • Health care and public health: 8%

Many biostatisticians will work in local and state public health offices.

What Is a Biostatistician’s Median Salary and Job Outlook?

BLS reports that the median salary for statisticians overall is $75,560 as of 2012. The top 10% earned more than $121,000 per year.

Indeed.com reports that the average salary for biostatisticians is $93,000:

BLS also reports that the job market for statisticians overall is excellent, with 27% job growth anticipated by 2022. We anticipate that the job market for biostatisticians will be similar. This is due to the fact that there is a much stronger emphasis today among government agencies to prevent health problems occurring in the first place.

Related Biostatistician Video

#3 Public Health Educator

Public health educators teach the public about behaviors that promote better health and wellness in the community. These public health professionals develop and implement public health strategies that will be a benefit to the whole community.

What Do Public Health Educators Do?

They:

  • Analyze and assess the needs of the people and the community

  • Come up with programs to teach people about important public health topics

  • Teach the community about how to deal with current public health problems

  • Evaluate how effective public health programs are

  • Come up with training programs for health professionals in the area

  • Help the community come up with key health services information

  • Supervise public health staff who implement public health programs

Where Do Public Health Educators Work?

Health educators overall held 58,900 jobs in 2012, according to BLS. Most commonly, these workers are employed in the following areas:

  • Government - federal, state and local: 23%

  • Hospitals: 21%

  • Health care services: 17%

  • Religious and civic groups: 11%

  • Social welfare: 11%

What Is a Public Health Educator’s Median Salary and Job Outlook?

The median salary in this public health field is $48,800, with the top 10% earning more than $86,000 per year. The top earning institution for public health educators is in hospitals, either state, local or private.

Indeed.com reports that the average salary for this field is $40,000:

This job area is expected to grow by 21% by 2022, which is faster than average.

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Health Education Specialists

#4 Public Health Nurse

A public health nurse is similar in duties to a regular registered nurse, but the public health nurse is more focused on maintaining the public’s health overall before illness and diseases strike. The focus is on providing health services and information to prevent diseases.

What Do Public Health Nurses Do?

  • Visit patient homes to determine needs of both families and patients; come up with specific health care plans to prevent further spread of illness; refer patients who have mental and emotional issues to other agencies.

  • Aid the health care team in the community to coordinate assessment, planning and giving needed health care services.

  • Give needed health care information by teaching the family basic care and rehab of the patient. Also work to maintain the health of the family and to stop diseases from spreading.

  • Improve health care outcomes in the community by study and recommending process changes.

  • Work overall as an advocate for good public health in the community to prevent expensive trips the medical providers.

Where Do Public Health Nurses Work?

Registered nurses overall work in the following areas, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

  • Hospitals: 61%

  • Nursing and residential care: 7%

  • Doctors’ offices: 7%

  • Home health care: 6%

  • Government: 6%

Many public health nurses work in government agencies at the state and local level in particular. Some of these nurses also are  employed by hospitals. Many will find work at public health agencies in counties and cities across the country.

What Is a Public Health Nurse’s Median Salary and Job Outlook?

BLS states that the median salary for nurses is $65,470 as of 2012, with the top 10% earning in excess of $94,700.

Nursing pay varies quite a bit depending upon where you work:

  • Government: $68,540

  • Hospitals: $67,200

  • Home health care: $62,090

  • Nursing care facilities: $58,800

  • Doctors’ offices: $58,400

Public health nurses will most often be working in a government agency at the state or local level, so can expect a median salary above $60,000 after a few years of experience.

Indeed.com reports that the average salary for a public health nurse is $68,000:

Registered nurses will see a 19% increase in jobs by 2022, according to BLS, which is faster than average.

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#5 Environmental Health Scientist

Environmental health scientists work to improve the public’s health by focusing their work on how to reduce the risk factors that lead to public health problems. These include water and air pollution, and other problems in our environment that can lead to diseases and health problems.

What Do Environmental Health Scientists Do?

Environmental health scientists use their extensive knowledge of public health and science to protect public health and the environment. They can help to reduce the chances of illness and disease in communities by cleaning up polluted areas, or preventing those areas from being polluted in the first place. Other duties include:

  • Determine the best data collection techniques for various research projects and environmental investigations

  • Collect key environmental data from samples of the air, water, food and soil

  • Come up with public health and environmental protection plans to control land and water pollution and other related issues

Where Do Environmental Health Scientists Work?

Environmental health scientists generally work for federal, state and local governments, and also may work for private consulting firms that work with government agencies:

  • State government: 22%

  • Consulting services: 21%

  • Local government: 14%

  • Engineering services: 10%

  • Federal government: 7%

What Is an Environmental Health Scientist’s Median Salary and Job Outlook?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that environmental scientists earn a median salary of $63,570, with the top 10% earning more than $109,000.

Indeed.com states that the average salary in this field is $55,000:

Jobs will grow in this field by 15% by 2022, according to BLS. There are more concerns about environmental hazards today, and more focus on improving public health to prevent costly medical interventions later.

Related Video

What Is Environmental Health Science?

See More Career Options

  1. Biostatisticians

  2. Epidemiologists

  3. Health Educators

  4. Public Health Nurse

  5. Environmental Specialist

  6. Behavioral Scientist

  7. Infection Preventionist

  8. Public Health Inspector

  9. Public Health Engineer

  10. NGO Manager/Director

  11. Disease Ecologist

  12. Public Health Information Officer

  13. Health and Wellness Manager

  14. Hazardous Waste Inspector

  15. Public Health Attorney

  16. Public Health Consultant

  17. Public Health Dentist

  18. Public Health Administrator

  19. Public Health Doctor

  20. Public Health Social Worker

  21. Tropical Disease Specialist

  22. Public Health Veterinarian

  23. Vaccine Researcher

  24. Virology Trainer

  25. Professor of Environmental Health

  26. Assistant Professor

  27. Public Health School Dean/Administrator

  28. Public Health Policy Analyst

  29. Research Analyst

  30. Health Scientist

  31. Community Health Educator

  32. Public Health Officer

  33. Data Analyst

  34. Public Health Director

  35. Genetic Engineer

  36. Clinical Research Director

  37. Water Resource Specialist

  38. Child Health Specialist

  39. Public Health Microbiologist

  40. Nurse Epidemiologist