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Public Health

Public health promotes and protects the health of people and their communities. Public health focuses on preventing individuals and communities from becoming sick or injured in the first place.

What is a public health professional and what do they do?

Public health professionals work to ensure the conditions in which people and communities can live a healthy life. That can mean identifying and tracking a disease outbreak, promoting healthy lifestyle behaviors and choices, preventing injuries at work, educating people about the risks of tobacco, and making sure that communities have access to safe drinking water and environments to live, work, and play. Public health uses research to develop solutions to public health problems and makes recommendations for policies and laws that protect populations based on science. Professionals in the public health field aim to improve the quality of life for all by reducing health inequities that affect some groups of people more than others.

What types of public health occupations are there?

One of the many reasons to go into a public health career is because the field offers many appealing job options. Some occupations held by the public health workforce include:

  • Scientists and researchers
  • Nutritionists
  • Community planners
  • Social workers
  • Epidemiologists
  • Public health physicians
  • Public health nurses
  • Occupational health and safety professionals
  • Public policymakers
  • Sanitarians
  • Health educators
  • Restaurant inspectors
  • First responders

Where do public health professionals work?

Professionals can work in a wide variety of settings from global to local. Public health professionals may work at a federal, state, county, city, or local department of public health. They might work at a university, hospital, community-based organization, or non-profit organization. They may find themselves working at a for-profit organization like a manufacturing plant (e.g., an occupational health and safety specialist to protect worker health) or for a non-governmental organization (NGO) in Africa doing global public health. The options are endless.


Explore the exciting profession of public health more by checking out the resources. You may also want to gain hands-on experience by participating in a public health pathway program. Find pathway programs by clicking below.