Essential Guide to Public Health Careers

Public health is at the forefront of our minds because of the pandemic. But for those who dedicate their lives to working in public health, their attention isn’t restricted to COVID-19. The current health crisis is just one part (albeit a significant one) of their profession and their desire to help people live healthier, longer and more satisfying lives.

Public health professionals are all around us, and they come from all walks of life. You can find public health workers in various settings, such as in a company’s communications department, serving as a health and safety officer, running a health-centered nonprofit, or shaping governmental policy.

What these individuals have in common is that they chose a field of study and an “others-focused” career. They want to help the larger community, give back and make a meaningful difference in the world.

What is Public Health?

The American Public Health Association (APHA), an organization with roots that go back to 1872, is the leading organization for those who work in the public health industry.

APHA, an authority on the topic, describes public health in this way:

Public health promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work and play. Public health works to track disease outbreaks, prevent injuries and shed light on why some of us are more likely to suffer from poor health than others. The many facets of public health include speaking out for laws that promote smoke-free indoor air and seatbelts, spreading the word about ways to stay healthy and giving science-based solutions to problems.

A Lasting Career in Public Health

One of the appealing aspects of public health work is that what you learn from school, on the job and from the ever-changing world of health and wellness opens your future to many possibilities. And while you may start out in an entry-level public health job, where you go after that is truly up to you. As you grow in your career and gain experience in more health-focused work, your career path expands, and you’ll find new and exciting job opportunities.

Public health professionals are always in demand, and you can find opportunities in the area where you live, throughout the country or internationally. Some of the ways to assure yourself a long, satisfying career in this field is to network with like-minded individuals, such as on LinkedIn, join a professional organization like APHA, attend job fairs and industry events or find an experienced person to mentor you.

If there’s an organization you long to work for, stay connected to what it’s doing by following its social media channels. You could also attend an event the organization sponsors or take a volunteer role, so they get to know you and, you, them. When you stay connected to the employer of your dreams, there’s a greater chance you will work there someday.

Qualities and Skills Public Health Employers Want

Working in public health, even for a few months, you’ll quickly see what employers look for and how the desired qualities and skills come into play at work.

Strengths in these six areas will make you more marketable with the public health field, today and into the future:

  • Communication skills – Because you’ll interact with a community or other audience, strong verbal and written communication skills help you capture more people’s attention and deliver your message more successfully.
  • Work ethic – Public health professionals often work tirelessly and in challenging situations. If you showed dedication in other aspects of your life — at school or work, in sports or in a volunteer role — you’ll find your already-strong work ethic and ability to self-motivate valued in public health.
  • Collaboration – If you’re the type of person who loves to go it alone, public health probably isn’t for you. That’s because the role calls you to interact with people daily. But if you already enjoy partnering with others and being part of a team, your public health position will feel like a great fit.
  • Problem-solving abilities – In public health, you’ll face challenges both large and small. It could be something you work through that takes months or a decision you must make in an hour. If you enjoy working through problems and solving issues that make people’s work and lives better, you’ll find the public health field to be one where you can put those abilities to practical use.
  • Analytical skills – Being able to analyze a situation and decide what’s best for a public health program or an individual in a community is something you’ll be repeatedly called to do. When you can confidently assess a situation, you’ll find these thinking skills something an employer truly values.
  • Adaptability – There’s never a dull moment working in public health, and that’s because the needs of the people and your organization can change regularly. External aspects also enforce change, such as a new governmental regulation or critical concern that crops up. If you can work with these changes and keep a clear head and focused mindset, you’ll excel in the demanding environment many public health workers face.
Public Health Careers | Associate Degree in Public Health

The public health associate degree provides an ideal steppingstone to further study in other areas within public health. Those interested in public health can start out with the associate degree, move to the Bachelor of Public Health and then the Master’s – opening options to careers like statistician, health administrator and environmental health specialist.

Public Health Degrees at UC Online

If you’re new to the field of public health and don’t have a degree, you’ll want an associate-level program from an accredited school. At University of Cincinnati Online, we have a great option that will equip you for a career in public health, our Associate of Science in Public Health program.

With multiple start times for this program, you can choose when to begin and the best study pace, full- or part-time. As you explore our associate degree program, you’ll discover how all coursework, along with interactions with our experienced instructors and your fellow students, is completed 100% online.

UC Online’s virtual public health degree program enables you to study while managing other aspects of your life, such as a job, parenting or taking care of an older relative. This flexibility is something our students highly value, and it’s one of the reasons we’ve become known throughout the country as a leader in online education.

If you already have an associate degree and want to specialize in public health, UC Online is the right choice, too. Our Bachelor of Science in Public Health is ranked in the top 15 best online public health programs for 2021 by Best Health Degrees — and you can complete the studies in as little as two years.

Interested in Taking the Next Step?

When you’re ready to speak one-on-one with a representative, ask them to answer any questions you have about the program and to cover financial aid, if that’s of interest to you.

Ready to get the process started? Our UCO staff is ready to answer your questions about the Associate of Science in Public Health. You can connect online with an advisor, or call our associate degree specialists’ team at 833-556-7877.

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