7 Public Health Careers (+ How to Get Started)

Public health careers emerge as both in-demand and deeply gratifying in the dynamic healthcare landscape. Delve into this comprehensive guide to discover the diverse avenues within this field and learn how to embark on your rewarding journey.

Exploring the Vital Realm of Public Health

Public health, a field intricately linked to government regulations and support, encompasses hygiene, epidemiology, and disease prevention decision-making. The pivotal role played by public health professionals gained prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic, emphasizing the significance of fostering a safe and healthy society.

Unveiling the Impact of Public Health Careers

Public health careers distinguish themselves by focusing on safeguarding and enhancing the health of populations, diverging from the individual-focused approach of traditional healthcare. The sector anticipates a 13 percent growth in job opportunities within the broader healthcare domain from 2021 to 2031, signifying a surge in demand for public health and healthcare professionals.

Reasons to Pursue a Public Health Career

Beyond monetary incentives, individuals are drawn to public health careers to contribute meaningfully to health regulations, policies, and global governance. The pandemic underscored the critical role of health education and preventative measures, unveiling systemic inequities and imperfections.

Elevating Your Credentials with Advanced Education

While some professionals enter the workforce with a bachelor's degree in public health, many opt to pursue a master’s in public health (MPH). This advanced degree enhances earning potential and opens doors to a myriad of public health career paths.

Salary and Job Outlook

As the healthcare sector experiences unprecedented growth, public health professionals can anticipate competitive salaries. The highest-paid roles, particularly in administrative or management capacities, command an average of $88,580 to $93,910 in the US. With an anticipated addition of 2 million jobs in the next decade, healthcare stands out as one of the fastest-growing employment sectors in the US.

Explore Globally Recognized Public Health Programs

  • Global Master of Public Health from Imperial College London
    • 100% ONLINE
  • MS in Management: Healthcare from Northeastern University
    • 100% ONLINE
  • Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan
    • 100% ONLINE

Emerging Public Health Careers

As the healthcare landscape evolves, so do the career opportunities within public health. Here are seven emerging public health careers, each exhibiting growth rates equal to or surpassing the average employment growth rate of 5 percent.

1. Medical and Health Services Manager

  • Median Salary: $101,340
  • Job Outlook: 28 percent growth (much faster than average)
  • Typical Requirements: Bachelor’s degree, with a master’s, is common and relevant work experience in hospital administration.

Specialization: The Business of Health Care

  • Skills Developed: Insurance, Health Economics

2. Biostatistician

  • Median Salary: $96,280
  • Job Outlook: 31 percent growth (much faster than average)
  • Typical Requirements: Minimum bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees are often required.

Specialization: Biostatistics in Public Health

  • Skills Developed: Statistics, Variability, Regression, Statistical Hypothesis Testing, Normal Distribution, Summary Measures, Binary Data, Confidence Interval, P Values, Sampling, Proportional Hazards Model, Regression Analysis, Spline Approach

3. Health Care Consultant

  • Median Salary: $93,000
  • Job Outlook: 11 percent growth (faster than average)
  • Typical Requirements: Bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions, while an MBA or specialized master’s (e.g., MPH) accelerates career growth.

Specialization: Health Information Literacy for Data Analytics

  • Skills Developed: Data Model, Healthcare Terminology, Healthcare Data

4. Epidemiologist

  • Median Salary: $78,830
  • Job Outlook: 26 percent growth (much faster than average)
  • Typical Requirements: A master’s degree in public health or a related field and a bachelor’s degree. Some roles may require a doctorate degree in epidemiology or medicine.

Specialization: Epidemiology in Public Health Practice

  • Skills Developed: Statistics, Epidemiology, Outbreak Investigation, Public Health Surveillance, Visualization, Estimation, Geographic Information System (GIS), Statistical Methods, Data Collection, Surveillance, Disease Surveillance, Data Analysis, Public Health

5. Occupational Health and Safety Specialist

  • Median Salary: $74,870 
  • Job Outlook: 5 percent growth (as fast as average)
  • Typical Requirements: Bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety, biology, or a related field. Some roles may require a master’s in industrial hygiene or health physics.

Specialization: Impacts of the Environment on Global Public Health

  • Skills Developed: Environmental Justice, Environment, Public Health, Policy, Environmental Health, Global Health, Sustainability, Climate Change, Health Equity

6. Social and Community Service Manager

  • Median Salary: $74,000
  • Job Outlook: 12 percent growth (much faster than average)
  • Typical Requirements: Bachelor’s degree in public health, social work, or a related field.

Specialization: Social Policy for Social Services & Health Practitioners

  • Skills Developed: Various skills related to social policy analysis and reform proposals.

7. Health Education Specialist

  • Median Salary: $48,860
  • Job Outlook: 12 percent growth (much faster than average)
  • Typical Requirements: Bachelor’s degree in health education or related field.

Course: Health Behavior Change: From Evidence to Action

  • Skills Developed: Health Practices, Health Psychology, Mental Health, Public Health, Behavioral Psychology

Diverse Work Environments for Public Health Professionals

Public health professionals find employment in various settings, including:

  • Global health organizations
  • Federal, state, and local government agencies
  • Community organizations
  • Colleges and universities
  • Hospitals and traditional medical facilities
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Private companies

Embrace the Future of Public Health with Coursera

Fast-track your journey to addressing global health challenges by earning a Master’s in Public Health from renowned institutions like the University of Michigan or Imperial College London. Choose from a range of specialized programs designed to equip you with the skills needed to make a meaningful impact on the world's health landscape.


What is public health, and how does it differ from other healthcare careers?

Public health is a field focused on the health of populations, emphasizing government regulation and support. Unlike traditional healthcare, which revolves around individual patient care, public health professionals work to protect and promote health in communities.

Why pursue a career in public health?

Individuals are drawn to public health not just for financial reasons but to contribute to health regulations and policies on a broader scale. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored public health's vital role in addressing global health challenges.

What educational path should I take for a public health career?

While some enter the workforce with a bachelor's degree in public health, many professionals opt for a master’s in public health (MPH) to enhance their career prospects. A master’s degree can boost salary and open doors to advanced job opportunities.

What is the job outlook and salary range for public health careers?

Jobs in public health are projected to increase by 13 percent from 2021 to 2031, making it one of the fastest-growing sectors. The highest-paid roles, especially in administrative or management positions, can earn an average of $88,580 to $93,910 in the US.

Can you recommend some online public health programs for career advancement?

Certainly! Explore reputable programs like the Global Master of Public Health from Imperial College London, MS in Management: Healthcare from Northeastern University, and the Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan, all available 100% online.

What are the emerging public health careers with high growth rates?

Seven emerging public health careers include medical and health services manager, biostatistician, health care consultant, epidemiologist, occupational health and safety specialist, social and community service manager, and health education specialist. These careers exhibit growth rates much faster than the average.

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