Public Health Careers Where You Could Make a Difference

Public Health Careers Where You Could Make a Difference

There's something so rewarding about making a difference in the life of someone else. If you're interested in a career that allows you to help others, you should consider a career in public health care. Learn more about the various public health career paths and how you can get started in them.

What is a Career in Public Health Care?

When people think of careers in healthcare, they imagine nurses and doctors. But there's more than those career options. Certain health problems, such as obesity and nutrition, fall under the realm of public health. Instead of treating issues on a case-by-case basis, these professionals look at communities as a whole.

There are a variety of types of public health jobs. Some individuals in this industry work in health clinics, health departments, or labs. Even the CDC is public healthcare. Typically, organizations in public healthcare help communities succeed via health guidelines and medical research. They offer education and come up with health policies designed to increase lifespans and quality of life.


An epidemiologist has the role of finding causes of diseases, disabilities, and injuries. Because they're looking at communities and not individuals, these experts look for patterns. They often need a master's degree in public health.

On average, you can make $65,853 each year as an epidemiologist. It's highly scientific.

Health Educator

As a health educator, you teach patients and individuals in communities how to have better health and well-being. The job could earn you $45,223 per year. If you want to get started, you need a bachelor's degree in health education or a similar field. However, there are advanced positions that require advanced degrees.

Nutritionist or Dietician

Another option in public healthcare is a dietician or nutritionist. While there are careers in this outside of public health, public health nutritionists work to help people in communities make better food choices. You may also help people handle chronic diseases. To get started, you need a Bachelor's degree in dietetics or food and nutrition. In certain states, individuals need a special license to practice. The median salary for this job is $56,796.


Although this career isn't very well-known, it's a high-earning career. Biostatisticians earn almost $100,000 per year. They study the causes and effects of specific health problems and programs. To do this, professionals use math and statistic-based models. You need a bachelor's or master's degree in biostatistics, math, or statistics to start.

Health Services Administration

You could work as a health service administrator in a variety of offices. While the duties vary based on the office you work in, you can expect to direct and coordinate services and policies related to public health. Typically, employees in this field need a bachelor's in health administration. An employer might give preference to someone with a master's. On average, you could make about $68,422 per year.

Environmental Health Scientists

If you want to help people by improving their environment, you could become an environmental health scientist. This type of expert studies how hazards like industrial waste and pollution impact local populations. When these scientists discover an issue, they come up with a plan to improve the situation. This career demands a bachelor's in environmental science or a similar field. The median salary is just under $60,000. To move forward in the field and earn more, you need a master's degree.

Occupational Health and Safety Specialist

When someone works a job, they have a certain expectation of safety. The occupational health and safety specialist is responsible for preventing issues in the workplace. They look at environmental hazards as well as health hazards. Although some specialists only have an associate's degree, most employers require a bachelor's degree. The median salary for this role is $55,142.

Medical Scientist

A medical scientist does clinical trials that further research on human diseases. Furthermore, they use their research to find new treatments and improve outcomes. Unlike some of the other careers on this list, you need a Ph.D. or medical degree. The median salary is $65,102 per year.

Picking the Right Career

Once you decide to pursue a career in public health, you need to consider what path to take. But deciding isn't easy. Before you embark on your new career, consider the following:

Your Salary Needs

First, you should think about your ideal starting salary. How much do you need to make to be happy? This may take some budgeting. In addition to thinking about your current salary needs, think about your future desires. In ten years, how much do you want to make? Some careers cap out at low salaries, while others leave more room for raises and promotions. Overall, public health doesn't pay well compared to some other industries.

Your Benefit Needs

An advantage of working a public health job is the benefits package. As a government employee, you have the potential to have good benefits. Even though the salary is lower, you might have a better quality of life with good healthcare and paid time off. When you look into each specific career, pay attention to the benefits.

Educational Requirements

If you don't want to spend much time in school, you should avoid jobs like biostatician and environmental scientist. Instead, you might prefer being an administrative specialist or health and safety officer. You can get into public healthcare with as little or as much education as you want, depending on the job.

Your Likes and Dislikes

Everyone deserves to be happy in their chosen career. If you truly want to enjoy your job, you should pick a position that matches your skills and passions. If you don't like science or you failed high school science, you probably shouldn't be a scientist. Think about your strengths and what you want to spend your life doing.

Getting Started

Whether you're trying to change careers or you're fresh out of high school, you may want to consider a career in public healthcare. Once you pick your path, you can start working on meeting the minimum requirements and applying for jobs.

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