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50 Good Reasons to Choose a Public Health Career
By Sam MacArthur

Are you prepared to answer the question, “Why I chose public health”? Public health offers a unique educational experience, and students can choose it as a major or minor. Programs exist at the undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral level to help students build on other educational experiences or to deepen their knowledge in the field. Diverse education is just one of the many reasons to go into public health. With a degree in public health, you can get an entry-level position with a bachelor’s degree or advance in your current position with a master’s degree. There are regional, national, and international organizations devoted to public health. Some students go on to work for the Centers for Disease Control or the National Institutes of Health, for example.

There is a high demand for workers at all levels in public health. With more education and experience, students can secure higher-paying positions, which are increasingly opening up in the private sector. For students who go to work for nonprofits, there is an opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of economically challenged communities. Teaching and leadership positions give graduates an opportunity to shape the minds of the next generation and directly impact public and private policies that improve health and wellness.

Why choose a career in public health? People have many personal reasons for going into public health. For some, a desire to make a difference or work in interesting places is the motivating factor. Others may want to save lives and work toward a cure for diseases. Here are 50 reasons to go into public health.

 EDUCATION

1. Flexibility

You can pursue a public health degree for your undergraduate studies in preparation for medical school or a career in public health. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, you can get a degree in Public Health to switch careers and help prevent diseases.

2. Dual Degree Options – combine your interests 

Getting a dual degree that includes public health can set you up for a number of career options. Electing to enroll in a dual degree program, increases your skill sets, and allows you to take a multidisciplinary approach to your future plans. For example, if you would like to work in a lab researching cures for rare diseases, you may decide to major in public health as well as biology or chemistry to get a well-rounded education and to learn more about the health challenges that face modern societies.

3. Interest in statistics and data 

Why go into public health? If you are good at interpreting statistical data, this could be the right career choice for you. Public health often deals with tracking hot spots for communicable diseases, rare conditions, and threats to public health. In order to do this, you will need to have good mathematical skills and the ability to interpret charts and graphs showing how a disease is progressing through a community, region or country.

4. Exposure to a variety of fields

Public health draws from a variety of different medical disciplines. Whether you are a doctor, nurse, or other practitioner or someone who chooses to work behind the scenes in management or research, public health officials come from a variety of backgrounds.

5. Education process is rewarding

You can improve your employment prospects and salary by continuing your education. You can pursue public health as a bachelors, masters, or doctoral degree. So, if you come from a different background, it’s not that hard to switch to public health by enrolling in a qualified, rewarding program.

6. Diverse coursework 

Public health coursework may depend on the concentration that you take. Some majors concentrate on nutrition and dietary education. Others focus on leadership and managing groups of people, which are valuable skills in a crisis. Still other public health officials specialize in disease and immunology.

7. Diverse degree options 

Schools such as the University of North Carolina offer a range of concentrations in public health. You can also double major or choose public health as a minor if you plan to work in the medical, legal or government sectors.

8. Available at a wide variety of colleges and universities (unlike medical schools) 

Students can find this major at a number of universities, some with med schools, such as Harvard and Johns Hopkins, and other that don’t have med schools. U.S. News list the University of Michigan, Columbia University, and the University of South Florida in the top programs in the country.

9. Multi-disciplinary

 If you like an eclectic educational experience, public health may be a good option for you. The multi-disciplinary approach includes social work, medicine, science, political policy, statistics, and other fields.

JOB MARKET

10. The field is growing

Jobs in public health are in demand. For example, demand for community health workers is expected to grow by 15% through 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Demand for epidemiologists is projected to grow by 5%.

11. Make a difference in the community

Why major in public health? Public health officials make a difference in the lives of underrepresented groups in the community. In times of an outbreak of disease, people turn to public health agencies for information and advice on how to stay safe. Some of these groups are at the national level.

12. Make a difference in your nation

The Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health hire public health professionals to prepare reports, charts, and graphs and to educate the public on matters of health and safety. During the COVID-19 crises, people visited the CDC website for updates on safety measures and tips on how to stop the spread of the disease.

13. Make a difference in the world

International institutions such as the World Health Organization organize public officials around the world to spread the news about the spread of infectious diseases and how to contain them.

14. Promote a healthy environment

With weather changes, wildfires, and hurricanes tied to a changing climate, promoting sustainable lifestyle choices and business practices is a major pillar of proponents of public policy. Why go into public health? Without a sustainable environment, it will be hard for people to live happy, productive lives in the future. Going into public health gives students the opportunity to make a difference.

15. Get a job right out of your program 

You can get a job as soon as you graduate with a public health degree. With a bachelor’s in public health, students can choose from entry-level employment in research, administration, teaching, policy development, and community outreach.

16. Lots of room for career development 

If you work for a government organization, advancement opportunities abound. These agencies tend to hire from within. So, the more experience you have, the more likely you are to move into management or positions of increasing responsibility.

17. Work in government

Working for a local, state or federal government is one of the main reasons for going into public health. Many students dream of creating programs that save lives and improve the lives of fellow citizens.

18. Work in education 

With a masters or doctoral degree, graduates of public health programs can get jobs at community colleges and universities. Passing along knowledge to the next generation helps strengthen the field and can be a very rewarding career.

19. Work in the private sector 

Surveys show public health graduates are taking jobs outside of state and local health agencies. Graduates are now seeking openings in hospitals, for-profit corporations, and not for profit agencies.

20. Work in the nonprofit sector 

Why choose public health? Working in the nonprofit sector may not cause a spike in your bank account. It can prove very rewarding though. Consider public health positions that allow you to travel to underserved areas inside and outside the country to help less fortunate people stay healthy or recover from outbreaks of illness and disease.

21. Field is always evolving

Among 2017 public health graduates, including those with bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, a survey of 10,600 graduates showed only 18.5% worked for governments. This is partly due to experience requirements for government positions. However, the field is always evolving and private industry has an increased need for public health knowledge post-COVID-19.

CAREER

22. Great job security

Public health engenders more job security than many other fields. This is because public health positions often require intimate knowledge of policies and procedures pertaining to an organization or government body. This information is not easily transferable and once you have a job, particularly in the public sector, you can enjoy greater job security than in other fields.

23. High salary 

It’s not unusual for public health roles to come with a generous salary. According to one source, these salaries range between $40,000 and $100,000 on average depending on the position, location, and experience required.

24. Take on leadership roles 

Because of the unique skill sets required for public health roles, leadership tends to come from within. This means that you have a good chance of advancing to positions of increasing responsibility in this field. By getting a masters or Ph.D. in public health, you can increase your chances of obtaining a higher paying position or advance at your current job.

25. You will be at the forefront of research

Whether you work in a lab or an office, public health positions give you access to the latest research on diseases, illnesses, and other threats to public health. This is a good way to feed an analytical mind that enjoys processing huge amounts of information. Plus, you’re working to save lives, which is not a bad feeling at the end of the day.

26. Exceptional diversity

Whether you are working with children or older adults, you will meet a variety of people from different parts of the country and even from other countries. This diversity gives you great exposure to a variety of cultures.

27. Improve the lives of young people 

Through various initiatives, graduates of public health programs can touch the lives of teens by helping to reduce teen pregnancy, raise awareness of drug and alcohol addiction, and improve the lives of very young children in need.

28. Good benefits 

Public health jobs in the private and public sectors tend to have great medical benefits. This is extremely important since some of these positions expose workers to hazardous conditions.

29. Help eradicate diseases 

Why did you choose public health? Jonas Salk found a cure for polio in the 1950s. It eradicated one of the worst diseases in history. Perhaps you chose a career in public health to work on cures for killer diseases as well.

30. Improve the lives of children

Vaccinations for measles, mumps, and other maladies save the lives of millions of children each year. Public health policies and regulations improve the lives of children in many ways.

31. Improve the lives of the elderly

Senior advocacy includes everything from developing programs for long-term care to championing elderly citizens being taken advantage of by negligent caregivers. This is one of the most important roles of public health due to an increasingly aging population.

32. Wide impact – what you do affects many

Why choose public health as a major? Depending on whether you work in the private or public sector, your decisions with impacts the lives of dozens, hundreds, or thousands of lives — hopefully for the better.

33. Improve the healthcare industry 

The rising cost of insurance and health care is one of the primary concerns for public health officials. Working to improve care and keep cost at affordable rates is one of the most important advocacy rules of our times.

34. Improve the lives of families

Some families are forced to choose between food and medicine. Programs that make medical care affordable or accessible to families in need can improve the lives of both children and adults. Being a part of this solution can be one of the most rewarding parts of your career in public health.

35. Career longevity 

Health and safety are always going to be priorities as long as people live in centralized societies. A career in public health can span decades or a lifetime due to the sheer need in this sector.

36. Improving workplaces

For nutritionists and dietitians, some companies offer employee wellness programs to keep employees healthy and to cut down on insurance claims that cause rate increases. Working for a corporation can give you access to improve working conditions and educate employees on safe practices and smart lifestyle choices.

37. Improving food safety and access

You can improve food safety and access by securing employment for public programs in charge of student lunch programs and food banks. If you are interested in pursuing a legal career, you can work as an advocate for food quality and safety to improve the nation’s food sources.

38. Work in interesting places 

Public health professionals work in labs, offices, schools, hospitals, and research facilities. During a crisis, some roles may include travel to different parts of the country.

39. Promote preventative care

Why did you choose to study public health? Prevention is the best way to keep public health and safety risks from hurting people or making them sick. Public health workers promote preventive care such as proper hygiene and visiting the doctor at least once a year for a checkup.

PERSONAL

40. Moral and ethical satisfaction 

Why I choose public health – this is one of the questions that you will need to be able to answer before deciding on a career in public health. Often, students choose this major to obtain moral and ethical satisfaction about their career choice.

41. Desire to serve others

Why did you choose to study public health? Many people choose to study public health to make a difference in the lives of those in their community and beyond. Some may have volunteered for local organizations as early as high school, while others may have taught Sunday school or tutored students struggling in subjects they excelled at. Whatever your reason for going into public health, you will certainly get to exercise your desire to serve others.

42. Never a dull moment 

In the public health sector, new problems and diseases constantly arise. This can be a source of frustration or inspiration depending on your point of view. One thing is for sure —a career in public health is never the same from one day to the next. Why choose a career in public health? Well, there’s certainly never a dull moment when it comes to health or health-related careers. some days will be better than others, but you will always be able to go home knowing that you did your best to help others.

43. Satisfying professional relationships 

Why major in public health? If you would like to work with other professionals in the medical field or educated, caring coworkers, a career in public health might be a great match. Building satisfying professional relationships includes being part of something that’s bigger than you are. You may work in a lab conducting research on a possible cure for cancer or you may work to ensure that children in less affluent neighborhoods receive the food and vaccinations they need for good health. You’ll work along with others committed too public health and safety and with similar values.

44. Travel 

Why choose public health? This is not the most convenient career path that you could choose. This is particularly true if you want to make a big impact. Public health professionals often have to travel to areas devastated by weather events, health crises, and other emergencies. In the past, public health officials have traveled to New York to help victims of 911 and to New Orleans to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. Many public health officials have also traveled to other countries to administer lifesaving immunizations against diseases that have been all but eradicated elsewhere. If you would like to travel to the Caribbean, Asia, or Africa, you could well get the chance to do so in a career in public health administration.

45. Career Satisfaction 

Why did you choose public health? Any student considering public health as their major should be able to answer this question before committing to this challenging career. This is also one of the most satisfying careers that you could undertake. If you want to play the hero in the lives of ordinary people on a daily basis, a career in public health would be a great fit for you. Lending your time, skills, and compassion to those who are sick, hurt, and fighting for their lives is one of the noblest and valuable ways that you can spend your time.

46. Challenge is stimulating 

Deeply intellectual people often choose public health due to the need for reliable statistical data and the complex problems that arise on a daily basis. Working in a challenging field where priorities change based on the needs of the public can stimulate an exhilarate those who love an intellectual challenge.

47. Demanding but rewarding 

Why choose public health as a major? Working on public health crises can involve long hours and tremendous effort in a high-stakes situation. Although this job is demanding, it is also rewarding. Finding solutions that increase the longevity of those suffering from diseases or improving access to safe food and water can leave you with a feeling of personal satisfaction unparalleled in a typical office job.

48. Cultural exploration

Whether you want to work to improve the lives of Native Americans or those in other countries, a career in public health offers plenty of opportunities for cultural exploration.

49. Meet Bill Gates (maybe) 

Bill and Melinda Gates are avid philanthropists who invest billions in infrastructure and health and safety measures for children and adults across the world. As part of your career in public health, you may even get a chance to meet them one day — maybe.

50. Leave a legacy

 Why I choose public health…after reading this article you may have your own answer to this question. Whatever reason you choose to go into public health, leave a legacy that you can be proud of and do work that truly changes the lives of others.

Related:

Public Health Careers

Careers in Environmental Public Health

Careers in Global Public Health

Careers in Community Health

Careers in Public Health Policy