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Careers
By Sam MacArthur

Public Health is the art and science of preventing disease and improving the health and individual Americans and the community. Public Health professionals detect, prevent, and respond to injuries and infectious diseases. They promote healthy lifestyles to prolong lives of people both locally and globally. The role of Public Health includes administration, policy development, regulation, and education.  

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1. Where Do Public Health Professionals Work?

Public Health organizations work in private and public sectors in fields that include government agencies, academia, NGOs, and the private healthcare industry. In most cases, the “public health agencies near me” are familiar, but if they are not nearby, it is not as clear what the Public Health Agencies do and where they are. Similarly, times of crisis may highlight the work that Public Health Agencies like the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and other public health government agencies do.

Government – Federal, State, Local Public Health Agencies, and Social Services

Government jobs in Public Health include dentists, engineers, nurses, pharmacists, behavioral health specialists, veterinarians, dietitians, therapists, and environmental health workers. The role of government in public health care involves working to support the needs of individuals. These examples of Public Health agencies illustrate the side range of Public Health Services that are available to various segments of the US population.

The list of Federal public health agencies includes:

  • Administration for Children and Families (ACF): A division of the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), the Administration for Children and Families was established to encourage strong communities by focusing on the social and economic wellness of families, individuals, and communities.
  • Administration on Aging (AoA): This federal public health agency facilitates a network sf of community-based and home-health services. The organization encourages community-support initiatives for older Americans as well as those with disabilities. The goal is to foster community health and individual independence.
  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ): This organization focuses on improving health care through patient-centered research into outcomes. The goal is to maintain quality and efficacy. AHRQ works to improve cost variables and access to care.
  • Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR): A division of the Department of Health & Human Services, this public health agency provides science-based health information about exposure to toxic substances and disease.
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA): This federal agency is tasked with inspecting, testing, and evaluating the efficacy and safety of over-the-counter drugs, prescriptions medications, and other substances.
  • Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA): This organization focuses on improving access to health care by focusing on those individuals who are isolated, uninsured, and/or medically vulnerable.
  • Indian Health Service (IHS): The IHS agency provide health care services to federally recognized tribes (American Indians and Alaska Natives).
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH): As the nation’s preeminent medical-research agency, NIH’s primary focus is to support and facilitate research to improve the quality of life through important discoveries. It is also one of the most well-known government public health agencies.
  • Office of Inspector General (OIG): As the largest Inspector General’s Office, this US federal agency provides oversight to the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). It investigates waste, fraud, and other abuses.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): A division of the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), the SAMHSA is tasked with improving the availability and quality of rehabilitation and treatment services for those Americans affected by mental health and substance abuse.

This list of Federal public health agencies is just a sampling of some of the agencies that are tasked to ensure the health and safety of American citizens.

Academia – Universities, Research Centers, Teaching Medical Centers.

The Council on Linkages Between Academia and Public Health Practice (Council on Linkages) consists of 23 organizations across the US. These associations are educational resources and advocacy groups, tasked with training and accreditation of Public Health professionals. Here is a list of ten Public Health agencies.

NGOs – Non-profits

A nonprofit organization is an entity or group that has that is dedicated to addressing critical needs and issues in the community. Nonprofit public health organizations are devoted to the health and human services. There are more than 1.8 million nonprofit organizations that are recognized by the Internal Revenue Service, more than 100,000 of them are non profit public health organizations. These Public Health non profit organizations range in focus from disease research, as well as mental health and crisis services to addiction and substance abuse causes or health care facilities and programs.

With so many dedicated Public Health nonprofit organizations, there are innumerable options for donation, volunteering, and/or participation. Public Health nonprofit organizations support the community they serve through education, advocacy, and health care services. As health and human services budgets are overtaxed, Non profit Public Health organizations fill gaps in health and human services.

Private Healthcare Industry – Pharmaceuticals, health systems, etc.

Private healthcare is growing in popularity in the US due to the increase in its aging population, the emergence of advanced technology in healthcare, and the increase of chronic disease incidents. A key component to Private healthcare is health insurance since it should support affordability and high-quality care. A focus of health insurance in a Private Healthcare industry scenario is to facilitate options, but coverage and accessibility are inconsistent and lacking, even in the age of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

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2. What Kinds of Jobs are in Public Health?

Jobs in Public Health may appear to be limited to a limited number of settings and career trajectories. Public Health involves numerous job roles that promote healthy living, nutrition, wellness, safety, data collection, and more.

Occupational Health

Occupational Health focuses on the emotional and physical well-being of the 130 million employees on the US. Occupational Health professionals put into place safety programs that are designed to improve health and wellness. It enhances safety and productivity. Occupational Health is one of the most popular fields for Public Health careers.

The Health and Safety Engineer has skills at the more technical end of Occupational Health, as part of the Public Health spectrum. The position requires at least a bachelor’s degree in Engineering or Environmental Health and Safety. The job outlook is about average, at 5%, and the median pay is $91,4100/year. Similar occupations range from Fire Inspectors and Industrial Engineers to Construction and Building Inspectors.

Occupational Health and Safety Specialist and Technicians may examine and evaluate health and safety factors in the workplace. These positions require a bachelor’s in a technical or Health and Safety field. The median pay is $70,480/year, with a job growth outlook of 6%. Technicians and specialists work in offices, factories, as well as other locations in the field. These specialists and technicians have similar occupations with the Health and Safety Engineer.

Environmental Health

Environmental Health is the practice and science of preventing illness and injury related to toxins or Environmental Health hazards. Areas of concentration take into consideration health factors related to air quality, toxic substances, hazardous waste, ground water quality, and global environmental health. Environmental factors intersect with societal issues since high-risk individuals are more susceptible to disease and toxic exposure. Environmental Health is one of the most popular fields for Public Health careers.

The Environmental Scientist (and Specialist) protects human health and the environment. The career requires a bachelor’s degree in a science-related field. The median annual wage for an Environmental Scientist is $71,360/year, with a faster-than-average job outlook of 8%. Similar jobs include Chemists and Materials Scientists, Biochemists and Biophysicists, Environmental Engineers, Environmental Science and Protection Technicians, Microbiologists, Occupational Health and Safety Technicians, Zoologists, and Wildlife Biologists.

Biostatistics

Biostatistics (or Biometrics) deals with data that relates to living organism, but it also involves Pharmacy and Medicine fields. Biostatistics is one of the most popular fields for Public Health careers, with a range of related fields.

A Biostatistician collects and analyzes the data to make determinations. The position requires a master’s degree in Mathematics, Statistics, or related fields. The median pay is $92,030 for Mathematics related careers. The job outlook is faster than average at 30% through 2028. Related jobs are Computer Systems Analysts, Actuaries, Financial Analysts, Physicists and Astronomers, Survey Researchers, and Economists.

Epidemiology

Epidemiology is the study and control of disease and disorders. An epidemiological study collects data and analyzes it to determine the incidents of disease as well as the spread over time. Epidemiology is an important way to use Public Health research to ensure health and safety. Epidemiology is one of the most popular fields for Public Health careers. Public Health research, as part of Epidemiology often involves gathering data and analyzing it to make health and safety determinations.

The Epidemiologist conducts research and investigations into diseases to determine causes and patterns. The job is usually done in laboratories, but it can be done in an office or in the field. The work includes collecting samples and conducting interviews. The position requires a master’s degree in Public Health (MPH) or related health field. Some Epidemiologists have doctoral degrees in Epidemiology or related fields. It is one of the most popular Public Health research jobs. The median pay for an Epidemiologist is $70,990/year, with a job outlook rate of 5%.

Emergency Management

Emergency Management involves preparing for and responding to catastrophes, disasters, and other emergencies. Emergency Management relies upon the integration of emergency plans by government and community organizations. An important part of Preparedness and Response involves Public Health components. Emergency Management is one of the most popular fields for Public Health careers.

The Emergency Management Director is on the front line of preparation procedures for response and implementation of emergency procedures. An Emergency Management Director can work for Public Health agencies, as well as hospitals, private companies, and Public Health non profit organizations. The median pay for an Emergency Management Director is $74,590/year, with an average job outlook of 5%.

Community Health

Community Health is a field of Public Health, but it also plays a more essential role as the intersection between economics, healthcare, and social interaction. It focuses on the emotional, physical, and mental health concerns of community members. The goal is to improve the health of individuals. Community Health prevents the spread of disease. Community Health is one of the most popular fields for Public Health careers. It also involves several types of Public Health research opportunities, with social, environmental, and economic factors.

The Social and Community Service Manager supervises and coordinates community services, as part of a nonprofit, government, or social services organizations. The median salary for the Social and Community Manager is $67,150, with a faster than average job outlook of 13% through 2028. The position requires at least a bachelor’s degree in a medical or related field. Public Health research topics in Community Service involve health management, community development, and policy.

Policy Consulting

Public Health Policy influences the health of citizens in the US. It involves negotiation and consultation, as well as types of Public Health research topics. Policy consulting involves work with a nonprofit or government agency.  

The Public Policy Consultant or Analyst influence social and political decisions by working with elected officials, community partners, volunteers, and advocates to monitor legislation, build working relationships, form strategic partnerships, and develop media campaigns. The median wage is $99,410/year.

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3. Job Market for Public Health

The job market for Public Health has a job outlook that is at least on average or above average for growth through 2028. There are a range of top paying jobs in Public Health, with the bachelor’s degree in Public Health, or related science, technical, or health program. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects new healthcare and medical careers will reach 4.6 million by 2028.

Why are some cities better for a Public Health career?

Some cities, like Chicago and New York, are better for Public Health careers often linked to the size and diversity of the population. Public Health jobs are more prevalent for those cities and states where universities, hospitals, and other agencies are plentiful, particularly where healthcare workers are in short supply.

There is no shortage of options or those “Public Health jobs near me.” Public Health funding by state improves health and safety measures. Public Health spending by state represents 10% of healthcare spending. Here are the top cities and states where public health jobs are in high demand.

New Jersey

In an analysis of Public Health jobs by state, New Jersey is one of the top states, with 401,670 jobs. Demand is high for healthcare workers because of the aging population and high population for the state. Newark, NJ is one of the best cities for public health jobs.

Here are jobs in public health, with median salary estimates:

  • Community Health: $45,750
  • Epidemiologist: $102,500
  • Health Educator: $58,460

Connecticut

In an analysis of Public Health jobs by state, Connecticut is one of the top three states for healthcare, with a good job outlook for Nursing in Public Health due to the shortage. The Connecticut VA healthcare system is a top employer. Concord, CT is one of the best cities for public health jobs.

Here are jobs in public health, with median salary estimates:

  • Community Health: $43,790
  • Epidemiologist: $83,810
  • Health Educator: $71,460

Maryland

In an analysis of Public Health jobs by state, Maryland is one of the top states for healthcare, with more than 74,000 jobs in healthcare. It has a large and diverse population. Baltimore, MD is one of the best cities for public health jobs. Here are jobs in public health, with median salary estimates:

  • Community Health: $47,600
  • Epidemiologist: $69,700
  • Health Educator: $75,270

Massachusetts

In an analysis of Public Health jobs by state, Massachusetts is one of the top states for healthcare, with a job outlook of 37.5%, which signifies greater than average growth. Boston, MA is one of the best cities for public health jobs. There are jobs at the nationally ranked Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard University, and other research facilities and medical schools in the US. Here are jobs in public health, with median salary estimates:

  • Community Health: $42,330
  • Epidemiologist: $96,610
  • Health Educator: $56,540

California

In an analysis of Public Health jobs by state, California is one of the top states for healthcare. The large population means that there is also a need for public healthcare workers at agencies, hospitals, and educational institutions. San Francisco, CA and Los Angeles, CA are two of the best cities for public health jobs. Here are jobs in public health, with median salary estimates:

  • Community Health: $45,270
  • Epidemiologist: $90,670
  • Health Educator: $56,450

Georgia

In an analysis of Public Health jobs by state, Georgia is one of the top states for healthcare, with 247,000 healthcare jobs. Atlanta, GA is one of the best cities for public health jobs, as the central location for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Georgia universities are renowned for the University of Georgia, Emory University, and Augusta University. Here are jobs in public health, with median salary estimates:

  • Community Health: $38,020
  • Epidemiologist: $61,910
  • Health Educator: $85,100

Washington

In an analysis of Public Health jobs by state, Washington is one of the top states for healthcare in the West. The job outlook is 18%, a faster than average rate of growth. The University of Washington Medical Center and the University of Washington both offer top employment opportunities in Public Health. Seattle, WA is one of the best cities for public health jobs. Here are jobs in public health, with median salary estimates:

  • Community Health: $38,870
  • Epidemiologist: $87,790
  • Health Educator: $59,140

New York

In an analysis of Public Health jobs by state, New York is one of the top states for healthcare. New York, NY is one of the best cities for public health jobs. One of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is in New York. The best hospitals are New York Presbyterian, Mount Sinai, and NYC Langone. Here are jobs in public health, with median salary estimates:

  • Community Health: $39,720
  • Epidemiologist: $81,800
  • Health Educator: $53,980

Wisconsin

In an analysis of Public Health jobs by state, Wisconsin is one of the top states for healthcare. The University of Wisconsin system facilitates a multitude of Public Health job opportunities. UW at Madison also has a Level 1 trauma center and research center. Madison, WI is one of the best cities for public health jobs. Here are jobs in public health, with median salary estimates:

  • Epidemiologist: $71,980
  • Community Health: $43,460
  • Health Educator: $56,030

Illinois

In an analysis of Public Health jobs by state, Illinois is one of the top states for healthcare. Chicago, IL has a large and diverse population, which makes it one of the best cities for public health jobs. Job opportunities are available through the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois, and Loyola University. Here are jobs in public health, with median salary estimates:

  • Community Health: $38,090
  • Epidemiologist: $81,400
  • Health Educator: $55,380

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