Public Health Lab Scientist

The average person looking to embark on a new career path will most commonly be looking for a number of aspects, some of which are a comfortable salary, potential for career growth, job stability, and a way they can do something that will actually make a difference. Careers in public health, such as that of a public health lab scientist, offer all of these things, and these careers have proven to withstand even the toughest economic conditions.

Public health lab scientists are in high demand, and the work they perform helps the public to stay healthy in a variety of ways. The salary an average public health lab scientist will earn yearly during the course of their career is very satisfying, just like the work they perform on a day to day basis, and the high demand for these types of professionals allows these jobs to be some of the most stable on the market.

What is A Public Health Lab Scientist?

A public health lab scientist is one type of public health professional whose work focuses more on the lab and testing aspects of public health than direct patient care. A professional public health scientist may perform tests on lab samples, research different diseases and infections, and analyze test results and conclusions to better assess issues or hazards surrounding public health.

Some of the daily tasks of a public health lab scientist may include:

  •   Performing tests on lab samples to determine public health hazards
  •   Conducting research on lab results as well as analysis on any lab test findings
  •   Training new lab scientists or other professional health professionals
  •   Developing new testing methods to be used on future samples
  •   Implementing new testing methods in a lab setting
  •   Performing quality control measures with testing procedures
  •   Writing reports of lab test findings to give to other public health professionals, authorities, or physicians
  •   Training students in the field of public health lab science
  •   Researching new technologies available to the public health lab field that may be used in the future for lab testing purposes.

The main role of a public health lab professional is to test, analyze, and research findings that come from laboratory samples. These samples may be taken from humans or animals, and the results of these tests will often have to do with diseases and other public health related hazards. A public health lab scientist will also be responsible for reporting any findings to other public health or healthcare professionals that may be affected by the results. 

Education And Training

The minimum educational qualification for a public health lab scientist is typically a bachelor’s degree, however due to a competitive career field a master’s degree is often recommended. First, a person wishing to become a public health lab scientist will want to complete a 4 year undergraduate program at a university of their choice majoring in public health, a science related field such as biology, or a combination of the two. The courses taken during this 4 year program should focus both on public health issues as well as biology, chemistry, technology, and mathematics to ensure that a person is trained properly to enter the field.

Once the 4 year undergraduate program is finished and a bachelor’s degree is obtained, the student will then want to go on to a 2 year master’s degree program to gain an advantage on the competition also looking for a career in public health lab science, and this master’s degree should focus on biological, environmental, or chemical sciences.

In order to become certified in the field, and certification is not often required but it is desired by many employers, a person will then complete a post graduate certificate program after obtaining their bachelor’s or master’s degrees. These programs are held at many different schools, and study can frequently be completed online, and upon completion of the program a person will earn a certificate in public health laboratory sciences. Certification may need to be renewed periodically to remain certified in the field.

The demand for public health lab scientist is expected to grow around 13% by the year 2022, allowing many vacancies for those looking to get into the field, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the average public health lab scientist can expect to make a salary of around $76,980 per year.


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