What Can You Do With a Bachelor’s in Public Health?

While some degrees may be routes to specific professions, like a bachelor’s in nursing, other degree programs may give you a wider range of possibilities. Have you wondered, What can I do with a bachelor’s in public health degree? Public health majors acquire many marketable skills, such as the ability to analyze data, that can be useful in many jobs. Read on to learn about some of the career options this degree may offer.

Pursue a Career with a Public Health Degree

The field of public health focuses on protecting the health of population groups, which could include everything from responding to a pandemic to promoting healthy lifestyles or finding ways to prevent injuries. Bachelor’s in public health degree careers may appeal to people who want to help others, although it’s important to note that public health workers help whole populations rather than individual patients.

Students majoring in public health follow a wide-ranging curriculum that may prepare them for a variety of jobs. Public health studies draw from multiple disciplines, including science, mathematics, social science and communications. A typical undergraduate public health student may take science classes such as microbiology, chemistry and environmental science. Social science classes might include global health and social research. Public health majors also study statistics and statistical analysis, health communications, epidemiology and health policy. 

With that broad education, students may choose from a variety of public career paths upon graduation.

What Does a Public Health Degree Program Teach You?

A public health degree program teaches you to work across disciplines to improve health outcomes for a population. You may combine your knowledge of environmental science with your statistical ability to determine how an environmental factor is affecting health. Then you might use your communication skills to advocate to mitigate the environmental issue.

A public health degree may teach you to look at the big picture, find patterns and seek solutions. In contrast, a health administration degree may focus on a specific area within the health care systems, health promotion and interprofessional practice. 

Skills That Public Health Majors Use at Work

Public health majors use different skills at work, depending on their specific role. However, they may frequently employ analysis, collaboration and scientific skills.

Analytical skills. Many public health careers involve analyzing data or other information. Biostatisticians, for instance, analyze data to help answer questions about health, such as the best way to treat a specific condition based on the characteristics of an individual. 

Collaboration skills. Public health careers may involve working in teams, so collaboration skills may be important. For example, community health educators may collaborate with community members to find ways they may overcome health challenges.

Clinical research coordinators and assistants work as a team to monitor studies and ensure tests are conducted properly. 

Scientific skills. Public health workers may need to understand the science behind health issues they deal with on their job. For example, health educators may need to know the science of how disease spreads in a pandemic to teach people what they may do to stop the spread. Likewise, dieticians may need to know the science behind nutritional needs to help people understand the benefits of selecting healthy foods.

Explore These Jobs for Graduates With a Public Health Degree

There are many careers for a public health degree graduate to consider. However, not every student who earns a public health degree is qualified for each job. Interests, skills and experience may also play a part in what position is right for you.

Community Health Educator Jobs

Health education aims to promote community wellness. Health educators do that by teaching community members about actions they can take to improve their health, such as how to manage a health condition like diabetes. 

Health educators assess the health needs of community members, develop educational programming and review outcomes to assess how effective their programs are. They may also train other community health workers or health care providers. The job may include advocating for more resources or better health policies.

Biostatistician Jobs

Biostatistics is a specialized branch of statistics that uses math and statistics to study health and diseases. For example, a biostatistician might design studies to test the efficacy of a vaccine or create a statistical model to analyze health data.

Health care biostatistician jobs may include research scientists, data analysts and quantitative scientists.  

Occupational Health and Safety Jobs

Occupational health and safety professionals aim to make work safer by improving work environments and work procedures. Their duties may include visits to workplaces, checking for hazards and ensuring the site meets health and safety regulations. They also collect data to design new procedures to better protect workers from hazardous conditions.

Occupational health and safety workers may participate in educational outreach by providing safety training programs and showing workers the correct way to use safety equipment. They may also investigate workplace accidents to determine the cause and identify ways to prevent future incidents. 

Epidemiologist Assistant Jobs

While you typically need at least a master’s degree in public health or a related field to qualify for a job as an epidemiologist, your bachelor’s in public health may allow you to start a career in epidemiology by becoming an epidemiologist assistant.

Epidemiologists research the causes of disease or injury by collecting and analyzing data. As an assistant, you may be able to play a support role in some of the duties of an epidemiologist. Those duties include planning and conducting studies of health issues that affect the public or a certain population, analyzing the data for insights and sharing the findings with medical professionals, policymakers and the public. 

Nutritionist Jobs

Nutritionists and dieticians specialize in using food, diet and nutrition to help people lead healthier lives. Individuals may begin a career in nutrition with a bachelor’s degree, but they must complete a supervised internship. Many states require nutritionists and dieticians to have a license or be certified. 

Some nutritionists work directly with people to help them develop better eating habits. However, community dieticians and nutritionists have more of a public health focus, helping to create programs about health and nutrition for the public. Organizations that employ community nutritionists include government agencies, public health clinics, nonprofit organizations and health maintenance organizations. 

Hospital Administrator Jobs

A public health bachelor’s degree may also lead you to a career in hospital administration. Many medical or health service managers begin their careers by taking an administrative job in a health care facility. 

Health care administrators may run an entire hospital, a department or clinical area, a nursing home or medical practice. Their duties include making health care delivery more efficient, managing finances, creating budgets and ensuring the facility complies with all rules and regulations. The administrator also represents the facility at meetings and communicates policy to staff members. A departmental administrator’s duties could include developing departmental goals and recruiting and supervising staff. 

Clinical Research Coordinator Jobs

Clinical research coordinators work on projects such as new drug trials, where researchers conduct tests to ensure new medicines are safe and effective. The coordinator’s tasks may include recruiting and screening patients to take part in the tests. They also monitor the progress of test subjects. A related job is a clinical research associate, who helps analyze test results and prepare reports.

If you’re interested in a career in clinical research, a research coordinator job or clinical research associate position may be a good place to start. A bachelor’s degree may be beneficial, but not required.

Health care consultants analyze how a health care organization operates and outline ways the organization may become more efficient. Their advice might focus on more efficient processes or on ways to reduce costs and grow revenue so the organization may become more profitable. Before making recommendations, the consultant may visit the organization, observe its operations, interview employees and executives and analyze financial data. 

To start a career in health care consulting, it may be beneficial to have health care work experience. It’s possible to become a consultant with only a bachelor’s degree, but consultants generally have several years of experience in the field they plan to consult on, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports.

Health Policy Analyst Jobs

Health policy is a required course in some public health bachelor’s programs, and that may be the catalyst for a career in health policy. 

Health policy analysts work for various organizations interested in instituting or changing policies that regulate some aspect of health care. For example, a health policy analyst might work for a government agency, elected official, nonprofit organization, insurance company or medical or pharmaceutical company.

A policy analyst reviews current policy, suggests changes and tries to anticipate the effects of revising or changing rules on health care. 

Are Public Health Majors in Demand?

If you’re considering a bachelor’s in public health, you probably want to know if there’s much demand for the degree and do public health jobs pay well? Because public health graduates find jobs in so many categories, the answer depends upon the field you go into.

For example, positions for health care administrators are increasing rapidly, with the BLS projecting the number of jobs may increase by 32% through 2030, much faster than the average for all jobs. The 2021 median pay for health service managers was $101,340. 

Jobs in health education and community health are also growing much faster than the average for all jobs. The BLS projects a 17% increase in health education positions by 2030. The 2021 median pay for health education specialists and community health workers was $48,860. 

Jobs for nutritionists and dieticians are projected to grow 11% through 2030, a pace that exceeds the average growth for all jobs. The median annual pay for nutritionists and dieticians was $61,650 in 2021.

The job outlook for occupational health and safety specialists mirrors the average growth rate for all jobs in the United States. The BLS projects there will be 7% more of these positions through 2030. Occupational health specialists earned a median salary of $74,870 annually in 2021. 

Why Pursue a Career With a BA in Public Health?

Students pursue a degree in public health for many reasons, such as the ability to combine science and social science in one degree, the focus on helping improve people’s lives and the flexibility the degree offers for career paths. The degree may also be good preparation for graduate school.

Other students who are interested in health and helping others may decide they prefer a more hands-on career and pursue a degree such as nursing.

If you wonder how useful a public health degree is, consider your career goals and what kind of work interests you. Ultimately, only you can decide if preparing for a career in public health is worth it.

Last updated April 2022