Entering the public health field is one of the best ways to find a career that offers rich personal rewards, good salaries, strong job outlooks, and excellent professional benefits. As such, it makes sense that so many out there are earning a degree in public health and entering the field in one capacity or another. But there are numerous ways to go about entering the world of public health, and plenty of positions and careers to choose from. One great career path is that of a public health consultant. Those entering this field will be able to enjoy a wide range of benefits personal and professional.
If you’re unsure of whether or not a career as a public health consultant is right for you – or if you want to know more about how to become one – keep reading to learn more.
What Is a Public Health Consultant?
A public health consultant works alongside businesses, government agencies, communities, and health care facilities to help improve the overall health of a population. They will focus on providing information to these entities that will hopefully lead to improved programs and policies that have a direct impact on the future health of the public.
Different tasks and job duties a public health consultant will focus on include:
- Conduct professional research and analysis to determine how to improve different issues and challenges in the public health sector.
- Present the findings and their opinions to government agencies or other entities so that they can use the data to develop policies and procedures.
- Counsel families and those in need to determine what options are available to them to improve health and well-being
- Review current programs and policies that target the public health and determine if they can be improved in one way or another.
- Consult with hospitals to determine if improved policies can reduce health risks
In short, a public health consultant works with numerous groups to help determine what ways they can improve public health.
There are several different personal skill sets and characteristics that can directly improve one’s ability to work effectively as a public health consultant. Areas that it helps to be strong in will include the following:
- Strong Analytical Skills – Gathering data and reviewing it is a key component of the job, and being able to effectively analyze the information and determine what steps need to be taken is important. A good analytical mind is a must.
- Good Writing Skills – The ability to create clear, concise reports is a must as well since a large portion of the job will involve this skill.
- Good Communication Capabilities – Consultants must discuss their findings and their information with their clients or with others in the public health field. Strong speaking skills and good communication will be vital.
- Willingness to Work in Different Settings – In most cases a consultant will complete some field work while also working in an office setting. It’s important to be willing and able to work in multiple locations.
Nature of the Work
The job of a public health consultant will involve a few key elements. First, the gathering of information will be done on a regular basis. This is handled through research and through personal interviews. The information gained will then be used to create reports and develop strategies that are then presented to organizations and clients in the hopes that they will change policies and procedures to improve health. Other responsibilities may exist as well, and vary from job to job.
The public health consultant may work for government groups like the FDA or the CDC, as well as smaller state and local government branches.
Education and Training
The primary requirement for entering these occupations will be a master’s degree in public health. This is usually preceded by earning bachelors in either health education, business, or public health. Certification from a variety of agencies that focus on public health could enhance one’s ability to find work, but may not always be a requirement.
According to MPH Programs List, the average salary of those working for the federal government is about $78,000 annually while those in local or state governments is closer to $58,000. The specific salary earned will largely depend upon employer, education, and personal experience levels.