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Careers in Public Health

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Public health careers offer something for everyone - from the time you wake up until the time you get home, public health impacts every area of our lives. The information provided is intended to give a basic overview of career and internship opportunities, federal employment information, academic and professional organizations, and sample positions relevant to graduates with a degree in public health. The information you will find here is suitable for undergraduate as well as graduate students.

OverviewEmail Career Services

Useful Skills within the Public Health Field

Public Health Values and Acculturation - ability to provide a basic understanding regarding public health, its history, heroes, methods, and values

Epidemiology/Quality Assurance/Economics - ability to provide basic skills in evaluative science and concepts and how they apply to the field of public health

Informatics (using technology to communicate information) - ability to provide a simple explanation of how to utilize technology to effectively communicate information

Communication - ability to provide a clear understanding regarding the principles of effective communication, as well as the importance of communication, education, marketing, and multi-disciplinary collaboration required in public health practice

Cultural Competency - ability to convey the importance of cultural competency as it relates to public health practice

Team Building/Organizational Effectiveness - ability to demonstrate one’s understanding of team work, the principles connected to effective organizations, and the value each of these have within the public health field

Strategic Thinking and Planning/Visioning - ability to explain the tools and value of strategic thinking and planning as it relates to public health

Advocacy/Politics/Policy Development - ability to provide an understanding of how public health policy is properly developed (i.e. who makes the policy, how it is developed, what it is based on, and how it is implemented)

External Coalition Building/Mobilization - ability to demonstrate the skills necessary to develop and sustain essential community relationships


Career Options

To identify what education or training is typical, use the O*Net hyperlinks below and click on “Job Zone.” In addition, seek out the advice of fellow students and alumni working in the industry, using our mentoring program on The Quad (for current students and alumni only) or by speaking with a career coach.

As with all majors, the education you receive serves as a foundation of knowledge that prepares you for what you may face in the professional world. The career field you chose may require additional education or experience.

Community Health Workers
Dietitians and Nutritionists
Health Educators

Health Specialties Teachers
Medical and Health Services Manager
Occupational Health and Safety Specialists
Occupational Health and Safety Technicians

Getting Started: Internships and Fellowships

Gaining real-life experience is an ideal way to start a new career. This website has an extensive list of internships and fellowships. Browse through them; the internships are organized by interest and by federal program.

There are government-organized internship programs which provide students or recent graduates the opportunity to gain real-life experience. Many require students to maintain either a half-time or full-time student status. The best ways to identify potential opportunities such as these is to contact branch offices directly, to search, or to look at the agencies’ career portals. Keep in mind that these positions are not always posted online, so direct contact with the agency is key.

The Pathways Program is a federal initiative that offers internship programs for current students as well as training and career development opportunities for recent graduates. Recent graduates must apply within two years of degree or certificate completion (except for veterans; due to their military service obligation, they will have up to six years to apply). The internship program for current students replaces the replaces the former Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP).

The Presidential Management Fellows Program (PMF)
PMF is designed to attract outstanding federal service members from a wide variety of academic disciplines who have a clear interest in, and commitment to, a career in the analysis and management of public policies and programs. To be eligible, an individual must be a graduate student completing or expected to complete, during the current academic year, an advanced degree. Graduate students who have had their degree conferred in the preceding two years from the opening of the vacancy announcement are also eligible for PMF.

The Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP)
WRP is coordinated by the Office of Disability Employment Policy and the U.S. Department of Defense, and aims to provide summer work experience and, in some cases, full-time employment to college students with disabilities. The program develops partnerships with other federal agencies, each of which makes a commitment to provide summer jobs and a staff recruiter. Each year, recruiters interview about 1,500 students with disabilities at college and university campuses across the nation and develop a database listing the qualifications of each student.

Getting Hired: Government Agencies, Organizations, and Search Engines


Keeping Current: Professional Organizations and Associations

Professional organizations provide job seekers with an excellent opportunity to network with fellow practitioners in their field of study and can assist in staying up-to-date on the newest technology, tools, and best practices. Becoming involved with professional organizations can also help to increase your knowledge in the field, as these organizations typically offer trainings and conferences for members. Additional opportunities may then arise to serve on a committee, have an article published, or even present at a conference.

Below are a few professional organizations within the public health field that you may be interested in.

American Public Health Association (APHA)
The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC)
Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL)
Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO)
Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE)
Medicine and Public Health Initiative (MPHI)
National Association of Community Health Centers
National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO)
National Association of Local Boards of Health (NALBOH)
National Environmental Health Association (NEHA)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)
World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA)

Conferences and Expositions
Get Connected: Social Media and Publications
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