Public Health Director

Securing your future means finding a job that offers great pay, good personal rewards, and solid job security. Few fields offer those things quite like the field of medicine and health care. There are numerous options available for a career within the health industry, and those who want to move past bedside care and into a more leadership oriented role may want to set their sights on becoming a public health director.

The public health director is a job that allows you to enjoy all the benefits that the health field has to offer, but without the one on one patient care that some people don’t enjoy doing. It’s a solid job opportunity, but one that will require a commitment of time and effort to reach. Keep reading to learn more about the job.

What Is a Public Health Director?

Essentially, a public health director is a person responsible for the overall management of public health care programs and organizations. They’ll be in charge of organizing, planning, directing, and managing multiple programs or individual ones and also have a direct impact on the way that the community or population’s overall well-being is improved. It’s a leadership role, and one that is primarily done on a countywide or even statewide level. Job duties for a public health director include:

  •                    Develop departmental budgets and allocate funds to the appropriate programs and initiatives
  •                    Review data related to public health and determine areas of strength and weakness
  •                    Consult with public health employees to gain a better understanding of issues affecting the community
  •                    Ensure that all public health workers are following all state and federal health laws
  •                    Deliver reports to the public health board of directors detailing activities and strategies
  •                    Design and monitor emergency response plans to ensure safety in the community
  •                    Hold hearings related to public health issues
  •                    Establish and maintain good working relationships with various public or private health organizations

In short, the job of a public health director is very similar to that of an administrator in a health care facility, except that they work for local governments rather than for private health facilities.

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A few key characteristics will help you thrive in this position. Training and education will help, but having natural strength in the following areas will be important as well.

  •                    Good Communication – You’ll need to speak with and work with medical professionals, government agents, and more. As such, strong communication skills are required.
  •                    Good Leadership Abilities – Being a good leader is a major part of the job as well, and you’ll have to have experience and skill at leading others.
  •                    Good Organization – The job requires you to handle a lot of different things, and as such it’s imperative that you have strong organizational skills.

Nature of the Work

The job duties of a public health director will usually be handled in office environments, usually within a government building. Time there will be spent interacting with staff, managing budgets, reports, and other paperwork, and coordinating through phone or email with various policymakers and other healthcare or public health representatives. You may also spend time traveling, and visiting conferences and public speaking engagements will often be a common part of the job for those in this role.

As a public health director, you’ll likely be employed by some government branch, though your role will be very similar to an administrator or manager of a healthcare facility.

Education and Training

To become a public health director, most employers require that you have a license to practice medicine in their state. Additionally, holding a Master’s degree in a health related field will be needed as well. This is in addition to a degree or experience in the public health administration field, and in most instances an employer will give a strong preference to someone holding a master’s degree in public health administration, and especially to one who has experience in that field. Usually, at least 3 to 5 years’ experience in public health administration will be required to move into a public health director position.

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The average salary for the public health director is roughly $59,000 per year, but will include professional benefits like insurance and 401K options in most cases. Your specific salary will depend upon your location, your employer, and your experience level. 

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