Career Options Series: Public Health

OITE’s new Career Options Series will give you a snapshot overview of different career paths. The goal of this blog series is to help you explore a variety of different options by connecting you to new resources. A large part of making a good career decision is done by gathering information about that field. We encourage you to follow up this online research by conducting informational interviews with individuals in each field.

What is Public Health?
Image of a large globe with hands from different indiviudals touching it
“Public Health is the science of protecting and improving the health of communities through education, promotion of healthy lifestyles, and research for disease and injury prevention. Public health professionals analyze the effect on health of genetics, personal choice and the environment in order to develop programs that protect the health of your family and community.”
– From the resource:

Sample Job Titles
Global Health Specialist; Public Health Analyst; Field Support Manager; Public Health Director; Health Policy Analyst; Regional HIV/AIDS Technical Advisor; Program Associate; Program Officer for Africa, East Asia, etc; Health Policy Consultant; Nutrition/Sanitation/ Maternal Health Specialist; Proposal Writer; Health Coordinator; Field Organizer; Project Manager; Advocacy Officer; Consultant; Program Analyst; Public Health Associate; Regional Specialist, and many more.

Sample Work Settings
Government Agencies; Government Contractors; Intergovernmental or Multi-Lateral Agencies; Non-governmental (NGO) agencies or Non-Profits; Private Sector such as consulting firms or lending agencies; Think Tanks; In-Country/Disaster Relief

Sample Employers
Abt Associates
Advocates for Youth
American Red Cross
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Department of State
Doctors of the World
Family Health International
Human Rights Watch
ICF International
Kaiser Foundation
Peace Corps
Public Health Institute
United Nations
World Health Organization
World Vision

Potential Topics/Areas of Specialty
• Biostatistics and Informatics
• Community Health
• Capacity building
• Communicable Diseases
• Consulting
• Emerging economies
• Environmental Health
• Epidemiology
• Global Health
• Grants management
• Health Administration
• Infectious diseases
• Migration & Quarantine
• Neglected diseases
• Program evaluation
• Policy
• Reproductive health
• Social and Behavioral Health
• Vaccines
• Vulnerable Populations
• Water, Sanitation & Hygiene

Key Skills
– Communication, both written and verbal
– Language Skills — proficiency in Spanish, French, Arabic, Chinese, etc
– Analysis and Evaluation
– Project/Time Management
– People skills (consensus building)
– Cultural Sensitivity
– Problem-Solving

How to get started
Fellowships e.g., USAID Global Health Fellowship
Internships e.g., NCI Health Communications Internship
Details e.g., NIH institutes; 1 day/week
Networking e.g., With speakers at NIH global health seminars
Volunteering e.g., Global Health charities, here and abroad
Additional education/degrees (Masters in Public Health)
Certificates (Certificate in Public Health –FAES)

Professional Organizations
American Public Health Association
Global Health Council

Additional Resources
OITE’s How To Series: Global Health
Guide to Public Health Careers
Explore Public Health Careers
Schools of Public Health Application Service


Coming up in the Career Options Series, we will be highlighting the field of Science Policy.

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