Public Health Careers

Public health focuses on creating conditions that support individual and community health, emphasizing disease and injury prevention rather than treatment. The planning and execution of public health programs and initiatives can be complex and requiring the synthesis of assessment, implementation, analytical, evaluative and communication skills in addition to health research.

Despite the importance of population health, the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH) estimates that there will be a shortage of over 250,000 public health workers in the United States by 2020.1 This is expected to translate into a variety of public health jobs and opportunities for MPH graduates.

In addition, growing disparities in access to health services, interest in preventive care and healthy lifestyles, and need to treat substance abuse as a health issue rather than a crime intensify demand for knowledgeable and properly trained public health professionals.

Examples of Public Health Jobs

Jobs in public health are extremely varied. Some involve fieldwork and community interaction; others are office-based. Settings range across all sectors:

  • In the public and government sectors, MPH graduates can find opportunities in health departments, community clinics, and agencies dealing with disaster preparedness and emergency planning.
  • The non-profit sector is home to organizations that focus on particular issues or populations, such as LGBTQ individuals, mothers or illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease.
  • Some public health professionals go into academia to perform research or teach public health students.
  • The private sector is also a large source for jobs at health care facilities, insurance companies or pharmaceutical companies.

A few examples of fields and jobs that public health graduates can consider include.

  • Biostatisticians use statistical and mathematical methods to design and analyze public health issues. The average annual salary for biostatisticians is $74,509.2
  • The growing field of emergency preparedness involves creating plans for communities to respond to disasters and other emergencies. The average annual salary for emergency management directors is $70,500.3
  • Environmental health science involves preventing disease by monitoring threats to the food supply, air, water and other environmental factors. Specific career applications include industrial hygiene, hazardous substances management, occupational health, and toxicology. The average salary for environmental scientists in 2016 was $68,910.
  • Epidemiologists track the distribution and severity of diseases as well as how to prevent them. The average annual salary for this role in 2016 was $70,820.
  • Health management administrators handle managerial responsibilities such as planning, policy formation and analysis, and marketing. The average annual salary for medical and health services managers in 2016 was $96,540.
  • Health promotion and education requires a comprehensive understanding of the complex factors affecting health in families, communities and populations, as well as effective instructional, outreach and communication strategies. The average salary for health educators is $44,390.

To learn more about public health jobs you can pursue as a graduate of Purdue’s online program, contact us at 877-497-5851 or request more information.

“On Linkages: Confronting the Public Health Workforce Crisis: ASPH Statement on the Public Health Workforce,” US National Library of Medicine,

Payscale, accessed October 2, 2017.

Emergency management director, environmental scientist, epidemiologist, health management administrator, and health educator data from Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 edition.