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Is Public Health a Good Career?

Public health is a field concerned with promoting the health of individuals, families, communities and global populations. Although it is broad in nature, all aspects of public health ultimately seek to help humans live longer, healthier and happier. Because the field encompasses so many types of careers, it is perfect for anyone who wants to pursue a profession that improves the lives of others.

What Does Public Health Look Like?

Those who work in public health might hold responsibility for a seemingly infinite array of items. Public health employees may monitor health data to determine potential health problems in local communities. Others may develop public policies to improve national health efforts. Some may ensure cities have safe drinking water; some may study diseases. Public health workers teach and educate, work as first responders, research, compute, evaluate and communicate. Climate change, gun violence, vaccines, healthy housing, racial health disparities, substance abuse, reproductive health, transportation and disaster preparedness can all be considered public health issues.

What Good is Public Health?

Public health provides exceptional benefits for both professionals who work in it and the communities they serve.

  • Public health saves lives. For example, according to the American Public Health Association (APHA), for every 10 percent increase in local public health spending:
    • Infant deaths decrease 6.9 percent
    • Cardiovascular deaths decrease 3.2 percent
    • Diabetes deaths decrease by 1.4 percent
    • Cancer deaths decrease by 1.1 percent
  • Public health offers opportunities for every professional inclination. Here are just a few examples of disciplines within the field:
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Medicine
    • Computer science
    • Engineering
    • Mathematics
    • Public policy
    • Sociology
    • Business
    • Education
    • Anthropology
  • Public health is a rapidly growing field of work. Public health is full of jobs that are projected to grow at faster-than-average rates until 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some include:
    • Health educators and community health workers
    • Dietitians and nutritionists
    • Medical health and service managers
    • EMTs and paramedics
    • Social workers
    • Urban and regional planners
    • Nurses

Jobs in Public Health

The options for public health careers are plentiful. Here are just a few.

Epidemiologists

Epidemiologists research human disease and injury and attempt to reduce risk through education, research and community interventions.

Average annual salary: $69,660
Projected growth by 2026: 9 percent
Education level required: Master’s degree

Health educators and community health workers

Health educators and community health workers learn about, discuss and teach about health issues and wellness practices within specific groups or communities.

Average annual salary: $45,360
Projected growth by 2026: 16 percent
Education level required: Usually a bachelor’s degree

Occupational health and safety specialists

Occupational health and safety specialists study and analyze work environments and procedures to ensure the safety of both workers and the public.

Average annual salary: $67,720
Projected growth by 2026: 8 percent
Education level required: Usually a bachelor’s degree

Environmental engineer

Environmental engineers develop and improve solutions to environmental issues that affect humans, such as air and water pollution, waste disposal and recycling.

Average annual salary: $86,800
Projected growth by 2026: 8 percent
Education level required: Bachelor’s degree

Dietitians and nutritionists

Dietitians and nutritionists help people improve their health and achieve health-related goals through specialized knowledge of food and diets.

Average annual salary: $59,410
Projected growth by 2026: 15 percent
Education level required: Bachelor’s degree

Medical health and service managers

Also known as healthcare administrators, medical health and service managers oversee and coordinate medical services for health facilities, medical practices or medical departments.

Average annual salary: $98,350
Projected growth by 2026: 20 percent
Education level required: Bachelor’s degree

Taking the Next Step to a Public Health Career

The University of West Florida provides students with the specialized training they need to successfully enter or advance in health-related professions. Online degrees include our B.S. in Health Sciences, B.S. in Health Sciences – Healthcare Administration and B.S. in Health Sciences – Public Health. Online degrees offered at UWF feature innovative teaching strategies, team-based learning and faculty who offer years of expert knowledge in their fields. Because these programs are offered fully online, students can conveniently earn their degree while maintaining their work and personal commitments.

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