types of jobs that public health has to offer

Quick career tips: What types of public health jobs are there?

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Today’s career tip is on the types of jobs that public health has to offer!

The great thing about public health is that there’s a job that’s bound to match your interests, strengths, values, and needs. Today’s Quick Career Tips episode acts as an introduction to some of these jobs and why they may be a good fit for you.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • The four categories that most public health jobs fall into:

    • Epidemiology and research

    • Public policy and program management

    • Environmental health

    • Community health

  • Job titles that fall under each category and the kind of work each one involves
  • How you can learn more about jobs in public health

Featured on the Show:

Other Resources:

Episode Transcript

Sujani 0:02
Welcome to PH SPOTlight, a community for you to build your public health career with. Join Us Weekly right here. And I’ll be here too, your host Sujani Siva from PH SPOT.

Hi, everyone. Thank you for joining me today on another episode of PH SPOTlight, a space for you and me and everyone else in public health to share our stories and inspire each other. My name is Sujani Siva, the host of PH SPOTlight, and I’m here to help you build your public health career. So on our last quick career tips podcast episode, we discussed what it takes to choose a public health stream that’s right for you. And we give listeners a glimpse into some of the job opportunities that each stream can potentially open up. And today we’re going to delve into a bit more of that and look into jobs that exist in the field of public health and answer one of those questions that we get asked the most, which is, “What job can I land once I complete a public health degree?”. So you know, let’s face it as much as we talk about academic degrees and schooling options. At the end of the day, some of the main things that we want to know are, what will I get out of investing all of this time and energy and money into my degree? What job opportunities are available to me? And what are the marketable skills that I’ll gain can leverage to land a good job? And what will my earning potential be like? And so these are all great questions, and usually puts us on the path of researching job opportunities. But once we finish this initial information gathering kind of activity, we’re likely going to start asking even harder questions like, does this type of job align with my interests? How about my values? Does it offer what I’m looking for in terms of work environment, work life balance, flexibility? And what are the opportunities for growth in this job? And so these are some great questions. And often you can find answers to these by just talking to people, right, talking to individuals who are where you want to be down the road. And you can do these through something called an informational interview. And if you haven’t heard about informational interviews, we do have an episode on diving into more about how to do informational interviews, what they are, how they’re beneficial. So I encourage you to check that out. But for today’s episode, since it is a quick career tip, I’m not able to run through every single possible public health job that exists, nor the compensations they all provide. But what I am going to do is help spark your interest in the job opportunities that you can pursue if you do choose to enter the field of public health. So for starters, let me start by telling you this, the fact that there are hundreds of types of jobs that you can pursue in public health is a great thing because it means that you’re guaranteed to find a job that’s going to fit your interests, your needs, your values, and even your strengths. And, you know, the nicer thing is that we can generally group public health jobs on under these large categories. But they’re not limited to these four that I’m going to talk about today. So the four categories are epidemiology and research, public policy and program management, environmental health, and community health.

So if you’re someone who doesn’t shy away from asking hard questions, enjoys working with data, and conducting analysis to answer those questions, then a job in epidemiology or research might be a good fit for you. You can either work independently, or as part of a team to find answers to some pressing public health questions in your capacity as an epidemiologist, a PhD researcher, a research coordinator or an analyst, or even as a consultant. You might also be interested in looking into becoming a biostatistician or working as an analyst and informatics. However, if you’re less interested in actual research and more interested in making research findings more accessible and understandable to the public, in the form of presentations and reports campaigns, then a job as a Knowledge Translation specialist could be a good fit for you as well. So that was the first category. Now, if you’re a fan of research and finding solutions to system wide problems, but don’t necessarily see yourself doing a lot of traditional research work and statistics on a day to day basis. Then a job in public policy and program management might be right up your alley. Public Health graduates that go on to work in public policy, administration and evaluation spend their workday doing different things. From researching policy issues related to the social determinants of health, to consulting with stakeholders and developing recommendations that senior leaders can implement. These roles go by the name of policy analysts or policy advisor, consultant, or even policy researcher. Even though the titles differ, the skill set required is largely the same across all of these different roles. Some public health professionals are also more involved with program implementation, and may work as program analysts or advisors. In these roles, they work to ensure that large scale public health programs and interventions are being funded, implemented and evaluated as necessary. Or if their specialty is environmental health, individuals might work as environmental health officers or inspectors where every few days they would visit different indoor and outdoor sites inspecting and implementing public health protocols.

And finally, the fourth category. If you feel like you’d enjoy working more closely with people and not necessarily working on systems level, then you’d probably enjoy a job in community health. In community health, you could work as a health promoter or health education specialist amongst other jobs, whereby you actually run programming with individuals or groups of people. This could look like planning and holding healthy eating workshops or planning and holding community events like vaccine clinics. If you are more interested in, you know, food, then you may even consider becoming a dietitian. And if you’re interested in doing the intersection of medicine and public health, for example, public health nursing, or a job as a public health physician would definitely be worth exploring. So those were the four kind of general categories that we introduced today on this episode, we were only able to scratch the surface of the several types of jobs that public health has to offer in today’s episode, but I hope that this episode has piqued your interest in one of these categories that exist in the field of public health, and that you go on to do a bit more research on your own. And if you want to learn more about specific jobs, and definitely consider reaching out to folks who work in these roles, reach out to your school’s career office or your current or past professors, and even visit job boards and online events held by public health organizations and your alumni association. Now that more in person events are slowly resuming, it would also be super valuable to perhaps keep your eye out for in person networking events in the field of public health and potentially consider joining professional public health organizations or associations that offer exclusive opportunities to their members. We also have several blog posts and podcast episodes on phspot.org, where public health professionals offer a firsthand look into their day to day work. So I encourage you to check those out.

And with that, I hope that you enjoyed today’s episode spotlighting this career tip about types of public health jobs. And before you leave, I wanted to let you know about one of PH SPOT most exciting programs, which is a career program a hands on intensive training program that empowers public health professionals to think about their long term vision for their career. And in this program, we work on things like uncovering your core values and your needs and your strengths and your interests when it comes to your public health career. We even do activities on roadmapping, what the next few years of your career looks like and you know, there’s a community of individuals that you get to connect with and it’s really a fun program. And so if you’re interested and would like more information about it, I invite you to join the waitlist and we will notify you in the next cohort opens up and you can do that at pHspot.org/program. And as usual, if you want to see notes from today’s episode, you can head over to pHspot.org/podcast. And if you are listening to this on Apple podcast, Google or Spotify, please do leave us a review. Even something as small as hitting the number of stars that you’d like to give this episode goes a long way in helping us get discovered by other public health professionals. And of course if you’re able to take some time to leave a note for us. It also shows us how much you Enjoy this episode so in advance thank you for doing that and until next time thank you so much for tuning into PH SPOTlight.


About the Show

PH SPOTlight: Public health career stories, inspiration, and guidance from current-day public health heroes

On the show, Sujani sits down with public health heroes of our time to share career stories, inspiration, and guidance for building public health careers. From time to time, she also has conversations with friends of public health – individuals who are not public health professionals, but their advice and guidance are equally important.

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