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What jobs can I get with a BS in Public Health?

For many schools, the public health major is new enough that they’re just starting to track graduates’ success. Entry-level jobs with the words “assistant” or “associate” in the title seem to be typical. Locations are as varied as those for MPH (Master in Public Health) grads, including government, nonprofits, consulting, and advocacy organizations. Here are some examples of what graduates who majored in public health are doing:

  • Serving as a program assistant with an international health organization
  • Carrying out health-related assessments at work sites (construction sites, child care facilities)
  • Working as a research assistant with a nonprofit organization
  • Working with community groups or programs related to disease prevention
  • Working at a company that does health communication and health marketing
  • Conducting air quality or food/water sampling and surveying
  • Working with an insurance company to educate and promote wellness among policy holders
  • Performing PCR testing in the public health lab to detect West Nile Virus from mosquitos
  • Some take advantage of government programs to gain more experience, such as:
    • Serving in the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps
    • Participating in a CDC training fellowship

There are also many students who go straight on to medical school, pharmacy school, or other graduate programs, including public health programs. These students would embark on Track 3 in the Public Health degree.

Often, entry-level jobs don’t specifically require a public health degree. But as one program director pointed out, the public health major gives you a unique knowledge base—and that could be an advantage.

Worksite Health Promotion:

With a bachelor’s degree in Community Health an individual can seek employment in a variety of work related settings - corporate wellness programs, environmental worksites, HMO's, as well as hospitals and pharmaceutical companies. Health educators serve in a number of capacities - designing, implementing and evaluating health programs in areas such as stress management, personal training, nutrition, worksite safety, and smoking cessation. Students interested in health education will be on Track 1.

Hospitals:

Hospital based health educators provide health promotion programs and courses to the community in many areas such as: child-birth, parenting, stress management, weight control, cancer prevention, low back pain, hypertension, diabetes, and fitness. If you are interested in public relations, media advocacy, organization and management, teaching, implementing new health-oriented courses, and evaluating their effectiveness, a hospital setting may be the place for you.

Government:

Alumni from the Community Health programs have held positions at NIH within such institutes and offices such as Cancer Research; Child Health; AIDS; Heart, Lung and Blood. Other government agencies in which public health graduates have held positions are the National Coalition of Hispanic Health & Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General, Office for Substance Abuse Prevention and the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol & Drug Information.

Research and Development Organizations:

Private organizations in the area (Opinion Research Corporation (ORC), Westat, American Institutes for Research (AIR)) employ Community Health Specialists to become involved in activities such as grant writing and program development for NIH (CDC, National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Education, etc.). The CDC and other governmental agencies contract with such organizations to coordinate research. These are often long-term, well-funded studies.

State and Local Public Health Departments:

With your undergraduate degree you may get an entry level job within public health agencies in the areas of health education, project management, policy, or communication. Job titles may include Data Analyst, Program and Support Staff, and Health Specialist.

Track 2 graduates would be qualified to work in both hospital microbiology labs and public health labs. Other career paths may involve infection control activities, especially during outbreaks or during the flu season. Public health departments also have an epidemiology department that tracks the incidence of infectious and chronic disease. While an epidemiologist usually holds a masters or doctoral degree, a graduate with a B.S. in public health would be well-suited to a research assistant position. Another function of the public health department is tuberculosis treatment and surveillance. Public health grads would be qualified in tracing contacts and maintaining treatment records.