How to Become a Public Health Professional

How to Become a Public Health Professional

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)

A concentrated study in behavioral science or public health consists of coursework that includes health education and behavior change, health promotion and disease prevention, mental health, social research, health system strengthening, and maternal and child health.

Other areas focus on ethics, medical terminology, statistics, and public policy. The preparation timeline below outlines suggested courses for public health professionals:

Grade Level Example Courses
  • General Chemistry I & Lab
  • General Chemistry II & Lab
  • College Algebra & Statistics
  • Introduction to Kinesiology
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
  • Statistics
  • Human Anatomy & Physiology I
  • Human Anatomy & Physiology II
  • Emergency Medical Response
  • Applied Kinesiology
  • Athletic Care & Prevention
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
  • Nutrition for Atheletes
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Lower Body Injury Evaluation
  • Athletic Training Clinical I & II
  • Exercise Testing
  • Upper Body Injury Evaluation
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
  • Health in the US
  • Health Education & Planning
  • Healthcare Management
  • Health Policy
  • Capstone
  • Remaining Requirements & Electives

A list of accredited schools and programs can be found in the website of Council on Education for Public Health or the Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health (ASPPH).

2. Gain Relevant Experience

A great way to get your foot in the door in any profession is to take on and complete an internship. Both paid and unpaid internships are available, but both are highly competitive.

Seek to maintain a high GPA (3.5+) for the best chance of securing one. Look for positions that will build your management skills as you'll often be tasked with overseeing teams and projects throughout your career.

Both private and public sector public health positions can be found in government, hospitals, and corporations in almost any city.

As with anything, the more experience you have, the better your prospects will be, so start gaining experience in the field as soon as possible.

3. Earn a Graduate Degree (2 - 4 Years)

While only a bachelor's degree is required for entry into the field, further education will always be more desirable to employers.

Pursuing a post-baccalaureate degree can open doors and put your prospects way ahead of the competition, but it's advised the have ample relevant experience in the field to back up your schooling for the most successful outcome.

Graduate students most often pursue specializations in public health administration, health care finance, or public health law to make the jump from one level of employment to the next.