What Can I Do With a Public Health Degree

Behavioral Science and Health Education

Areas

  • Programming
  • Disease Prevention
  • Community Outreach
  • Grant Writing
  • Fundraising
  • Volunteer Coordination
  • Social Marketing
  • Public Relations
  • Teaching
  • Assessment
  • Research

Employers

  • Local, state, and federal government
  • Nonprofit organizations such as: American Red Cross, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Lung Association
  • Community mental health centers
  • Local health departments
  • Corporate wellness programs
  • Fitness facilities
  • Schools
  • Colleges and universities
  • Hospitals
  • Research and development firms
  • International health agencies

Strategies

Become familiar with grant writing techniques and grant submission procedures.
Supplement curriculum with relevant coursework in social work, sociology, psychology, English, journalism, or public relations. Volunteer to gain experience and develop expertise in a particular area or organization. Learn to work well with diverse populations. Get credentialed as a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). Become involved in health programming on campus. Obtain part-time or summer job with campus health center or wellness coordinator. Develop strong public speaking and presentation skills.

Health Policy and Administration

Areas

  • Operations
  • Finance
  • Program Management
  • Human Resources
  • Information Technology
  • Marketing
  • Public Relations
  • Facilities
  • Patient Care
  • Provider Relations
  • Policy Analysis
  • Policy Development

Employers

  • Hospitals
  • Health systems
  • Clinics
  • Medical groups
  • Hospices
  • Home health agencies
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Mental health facilities
  • Health maintenance organizations (HMOs)
  • Academic medical centers
  • Public health departments
  • Government programs such as: Medicare, Medicaid

Strategies

Supplement undergraduate curriculum with courses in business. Earn a master's degree in Public Health, Business, or a related field. Gain experience through internships and other work experiences. Develop strong computer and technology skills. For positions in lobbying and legislation, some will earn a law degree. Join related professional organizations and build a network of contacts.

Environmental and Occupational Health

Areas

  • Air Quality
  • Food Protection
  • Radiation Protection
  • Solid Waste Management
  • Water Quality
  • Noise Control
  • Housing Quality
  • Vector Control
  • Risk Assessment
  • Management
  • Policy Development
  • Consulting

Employers

  • Government agencies such as: CDC's National Center for Environmental Health, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration
  • Local and state health departments
  • Armed services
  • Private research facilities
  • Environmental agencies
  • Consulting firms

Strategies

Plan to take courses in chemistry, biology, geology and other related sciences.
Learn to work well with a team of other professionals such as physicians, engineers, and scientists. Read related journals to stay abreast of new trends and legislation in the field.

Epidemiology

Areas

  • Research
  • Teaching
  • Program Design
  • Program Evaluation
  • Incident/Disease Investigation
  • Risk Assessment
  • Surveillance

Employers

  • Local, state, and federal public health departments
  • Government agencies such as: National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Armed services
  • World Health Organization (WHO)
  • Private research foundations
  • Pharmaceutical industry
  • Nonprofit organizations

Strategies

Develop a solid background in the biological sciences and mathematics. Gain experience with research. Volunteer to assist professors with research or apply for summer research programs. Find a topic of interest and gain as much knowledge and experience in that area. Earn a master's or doctoral degree in public health, epidemiology, microbiology, or a related field.

Biostatistics

Areas

  • Research Methodology
  • Data Analysis
  • Clinical trials
  • Teaching

Employers

  • Local, state, and federal government
  • Public health departments
  • Centers for Disease Control
  • Pharmaceutical industry
  • Biotechnology firms
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Colleges and universities
  • Research institutions
  • Hospitals
  • International health agencies

Strategies

Hone skills and interest in mathematics and statistics. Develop strong computing and technology skills. Get involved with research and gain as much experience as possible.

International Health

Areas

  • Social and Economic Development
  • Health Policy
  • Demography
  • Women's Health
  • Children's Health
  • Design of Healthcare Systems
  • Disease Prevention and Control

Employers

  • International organizations such as: World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Bank
  • Bilateral government development agencies such as: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Public Health Service, Office of International Health
  • Peace Corps
  • Nonprofit organizations such as: International Red Cross, CARE, Doctors Without Borders

Strategies

  • Learn one or more foreign languages.
  • Study or intern abroad.
  • Learn to adapt to cultural and racial diversity.
  • Be willing to live and work in third world nations.

General Information

  • Public health is a broad, multi-disciplinary field. Other specialties within public health include areas such as: women's health, children's health, nutrition, bioterrorism, gerontology, and veterinary public health.
  • A bachelor's degree opens the door for entry level opportunities in areas such as health education and promotion and environmental health.
  • A master's degree is typically required for management, administration, research, policy development, biostatistics, and epidemiology.
  • A doctoral degree is required to reach the highest levels of administration or research and for university teaching positions.
  • Many opportunities in public health exist with government agencies especially: The Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Health Resources and Services Administration, Indian Health Service, National Institutes of Health, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Become familiar with government hiring procedures. Obtain a government internship in area of interest.
  • Develop a specialty area of interest via supplemental coursework and/or work experience for greater marketability within that specific career field.
  • Cultivate personal characteristics such as enthusiasm, dedication, and a positive attitude. Maintain and demonstrate a personal commitment to healthy living.
  • Writing, research, and presentation skills are critical in most career fields related to public health.
  • Gain experience working with diverse populations across diverse settings. Learn to work well with others individually and in groups.

Prepared by the Career Planning staff of Career Services at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. (2005) UTK is an EEO/AA/Title VI/Title IX/Section 504/ADA /ADEA Employer

* Please note, this major is not currently available at NU.