A Guide to Public Health Careers
Public health is a broad field that involves promoting and protecting the health of people in the community. Public health workers educate and advocate for children, families and people in need. In addition to offering vaccinations and health screenings, public health professionals manage the prevention and spread of disease and illness, educate individuals about nutrition and health risks, offer substance abuse and mental health counseling and encourage healthy behaviors in general. Most positions require a Master of Public Health degree.
Community Health Workers
Community health workers serve as a liaison between available health and social services and the community where they work. They seek to increase health knowledge and self-sufficiency through activities like outreach, education, informal counseling, support and advocacy. Community health workers must have a high school diploma. However, an increasing number of employers require a postsecondary degree or certificate. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual wage of a community health worker is $36,300. The projected growth for community health workers is 15 percent by 2024. This is higher than average.
Environmental scientists use their expertise in natural sciences to help protect not only the environment but also human health. They clean up polluted areas, advise policymakers and government officials and work with industries and corporations to reduce waste. An entry-level environmental scientist position requires at least a bachelor’s degree in environmental science or a science-related field. A master’s degree in public health or a similar field is required for advancement. The average salary for an environmental scientist is $67,460. The BLS projects 11 percent growth by 2024.
Health educators teach individuals about wellness, healthy lifestyles and disease prevention. They create and implement plans to improve health in individuals or whole communities. Health educators need at least a bachelor’s degree in health education or health promotion. Health educators develop programs and events that teach communities about health as well as collect and analyze data in order to improve outreach and services. Many higher-level positions require a master’s degree in public health. The average salary for a health educator is $51,960. The BLS projects 12 percent growth by 2024.
Epidemiologists are scientists who investigate the patterns and causes of diseases and injuries in communities. They use this information to influence community health education and health policy. They plan and implement public health studies in order to find ways to prevent and treat problems. Typically, epidemiologists have at least a master’s degree in public health. The average salary of an epidemiologist is $69,450, and the projected growth for epidemiologists is 6 percent by 2024.
Community Planners/Community or Social Service Managers
A community planner coordinates and supervises social service programs and community organizations that provide services and access to resources for community development and health promotion. Generally, they have a bachelor’s degree in public health, social work or public administration. However, many employers prefer a master’s degree. The average salary for a community planner, community service manager or social service manager is $63,530, the BLS reports. Positions in this field are projected to increase 10 percent by 2024.
Rivier University’s B.S. Public Health and Master of Public Health provide students with the knowledge and skills to address public health issues and promote healthy choices. These degree programs take place in a convenient, flexible online format to accommodate students’ work and personal schedules.