Non-Clinical Careers in Public Health
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Public Health Careers: Beyond Clinical Roles in Healthcare

 If you enjoy helping others and are interested in a career in healthcare, then studying public health may be right up your alley. Contrary to popular belief, people with public health degrees aren’t limited to working in clinical roles. In fact, there’s a lot you can do with a public health degree that goes beyond clinical work. Whether you’re interested in studying epidemiology, becoming a health educator, or creating public policy, there’s sure to be a role that suits your interests.

 With a better understanding of public health as a field and what it entails and the diverse community health careers you can explore with a degree in public health, you can then decide whether this field may be right for you.

Understanding Public Health

What is public health anyway? The CDC Foundation defines public health as “the science of protecting and improving the health of people and their communities.” This can include providing healthcare education to local communities, preventing the spread of infectious diseases, and addressing environmental health challenges, among other efforts.

The field of public health is important because this work is proactive, especially when compared to more traditional clinical health roles. Rather than responding to and treating patients after they become sick or injured, the goal of public health is to prevent sickness and injuries before they happen and to make healthcare more accessible to everyone.

Diverse Career Paths in Public Health

Though it’s true that people who work in public health may work directly in patient care, the reality is that there are so many different jobs available in this growing field. As a result, working in public health doesn’t have to mean working in a clinical setting.

Pursuing work in public health means you can truly follow your own interests and passions. If you’re interested in improving health outcomes for local communities through education, you could explore health communication careers (such as health promotion specialist) that allow you to provide direct instruction to local populations.

In addition to health education jobs, professionals with a public health background may also work in such realms as epidemiology, environmental health, public policymaking, health administration, and beyond.

Epidemiology: The Science of Public Health

One potential brand of public health that you might be interested in is that of epidemiology, or the study of infectious diseases. Epidemiologists play a critical role not only in identifying emerging diseases and viruses, but conducting critical research that can prevent the spread of infectious diseases to populations.

This type of work in public health can be a great fit for those interested in healthcare and have a robust background in science. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most people who work as epidemiologists have master’s degrees, with many working in government health departments and laboratories.

The need for epidemiologists was made clear during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why it’s no surprise that the job outlook for this profession is expected to grow by 27 percent between 2022 and 2032.

Health Education and Promotion

Another possible area of public health to consider is that of health education and promotion. This is an essential area of public health because it can be extremely effective in helping local populations improve their own health and wellness and reducing the spread of disease.

Those working as health educators are responsible for developing programs to teach populations about their own health and wellness, including preventative care and more. Often, these professionals are employed by hospitals, government agencies, and even nonprofit organizations. They may host special workshops in hospitals, at community centers, and at other locations to spread the word about their initiatives. This type of work can be a great option for those who enjoy teaching and instructing others while making a direct difference in their communities.

Environmental Health Careers

Environmental health is yet another significant sector in public health. Public health is concerned with the study of how the health and wellness of select populations may be directly affected by the environment. This may include, for example, the impact of air quality on a region’s health. This field may also look at how things like biological and chemical factors affect the health of various populations.

Those working in environmental health are sometimes employed as health officers, inspectors, and even environmental scientists. If you’re interested in studying the environment and its impact on health and wellness alongside making a difference in the lives of local communities, this type of work may be right for you.

Public Health Policy and Administration

Across the country and even across the globe, there are notable regulations and laws in place that can have a direct impact on community health and wellness. This can include anything from laws about air pollution and nutrition labeling to pharmaceuticals and more. People who work in public health policy and administration are those responsible for helping to create, revise, and implement policies that are in the best interest of the population.

This type of work is well suited to those proficient and confident in conducting their own thorough research, as well as identifying challenges and benefits of potential laws and initiatives. This can be very challenging (especially when it comes to running into red tape), but it is also rewarding when you’re able to contribute to a policy that benefits the health and wellness of the people you represent.

Global Health Opportunities

When most people think about public health, they tend to think about jobs that involve working with smaller communities and local populations. And while it’s true that this is often the case, there are also a lot of emerging and exciting opportunities in the realm of global health.

In a global health career, you could take your knowledge and expertise to an international level to help populations in different countries and regions. This can include global health jobs, fellowships, volunteer opportunities, and even professional development training options. As reported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website, some common opportunities of jobs in global health include:

  • Public health advisor
  • Epidemiologist
  • Health scientist
  • Healthcare management positions
  • Public health consulting jobs

Emerging Trends in Public Health Careers

If you’re thinking about going into public health, you may be wondering what the future of this industry will look like in the coming years or even decades. Although only time can tell what the future holds for public health, there are some emerging trends that we are already beginning to see throughout this industry.

It is expected that there will be an increasing number of internships available for upcoming graduates and recent graduates in this field. These internships can provide excellent opportunities for public health professionals to gain valuable experience while pursuing different interests in the field.

In the interim, it is anticipated that rising costs of healthcare will facilitate the need for more public health advocates. This may include patient advocates in hospitals and non-clinical settings, such as lobbyists for public health policy reform and similar legislation.

Educational Pathways and Certifications

Ultimately, the exact requirements to work in public health will depend on the exact job in which you are interested. Some positions may require an advanced degree, such as a master’s in public health. However, many of the roles covered here can be achieved with a bachelor’s degree and some work experience. In some cases, additional certification may be preferred or even required.

Regardless, any reputable public health degree program should prepare you for the Certified in Public Health (CPH) exam, which is offered through the National Board of Public Health Examiners. Having this certification can be a great way to expand your knowledge in addition to setting yourself apart from other job applicants in your field.

Along with a formal degree and certification, some employers may also look for candidates with specific skill sets or work experience. This is where internships and volunteer work can be helpful, especially as you are still in school or have just completed your degree program.

Learn More Today

Working in public health can be both challenging and rewarding. This remains true regardless of whether you work in a clinical or non-clinical role. At the end of the day, you can rest assured that the work you’re doing is making a difference in the lives of those around you — and that’s something to feel good about.

Ready to start your career in public health? A formal education and degree can provide you with the foundational knowledge and skills you need to enter this dynamic field. At Florida Technical College, we’re proud to offer a bachelor’s degree in allied health management that can be completed in as little as 27 months. This degree program can prepare you for a career in healthcare management, public policy, public health, and more.

Get in touch today to learn more about this program or start your online application!


These examples are intended to serve only as a general guide of possible employment opportunities. There are many factors that determine the job an individual may obtain and Florida Technical College cannot guarantee its graduates any particular job. Some positions may require license or other certifications. We encourage you to research the requirements for the particular position you desire.