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Public health and safety professionals provide education, programming, administration, and policy development to prevent disease and promote healthy communities. They also respond to health crises. There is a saying that ‘public health is everywhere,’ so you will find public health professionals working in a variety of roles and settings. Click on the descriptions, derived from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook to learn more.
Epidemiologists are public health professionals who investigate patterns and causes of disease and injury. They seek to reduce the risk and occurrence of illnesses through research, community education, and health policy. Epidemiologists work in offices and laboratories, in hospitals, at universities, and for government agencies. Most epidemiologists have a master’s degree in public health (MPH). Some have completed a doctoral degree in epidemiology or medicine.
Biostatisticians analyze data and apply statistical techniques to help solve real-world problems in public health and healthcare. They may assist in the design of research studies with other scientists. Biostatisticians may work for life science companies, for government agencies, or at universities. They typically have a strong background in mathematics and a master’s or doctoral degree in biostatistics.
Public Health Administrators & Health Service Managers
Public Health Administrators and Health Service Managers plan, coordinate, and lead health services and/or medical care. They may work in hospitals, healthcare networks, and public health systems. Most individuals working in this field have a master’s degree and have sought out practical experience in the field. They may manage an entire facility or a specific department within an organization in accordance with healthcare laws and regulations.
Health Educators & Community Health Workers
Health educators and community health workers teach people about behaviors that promote wellness. They devise programs to improve the health of individuals and communities. Community health workers collect data and discuss health concerns with members of specific populations or communities. They work in a variety of settings including hospitals, nonprofit organizations, government, clinics, businesses, and universities. Health educators need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Many employers require the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential. The level of education for community health workers varies depending on the job and training provided.
Occupational Health & Safety Specialists
Occupational health and safety specialists keep workplaces safe by complying with regulations on safety, health, and the environment. They identify potential hazards and conduct tests to ensure safety protocols are met. They work in a variety of settings: manufacturing facilities, construction sites, hospitals, and offices. The job may involve significant travel. This occupation requires great attention to detail and strong communication skills. In most cases, a minimum of a bachelor’s degree is required, and many individuals have a master’s degree. Internships in safety settings and certifications are also needed.
Environmental Health Scientists
Environmental scientists and specialists use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment and human health. Environmental health focuses on the impact of environmental conditions on human health, whereas environmental science focuses on the health of the environment itself. These two fields of study are linked. Environmental scientists may clean up polluted areas, advise policymakers, or work with industry to reduce toxins or waste from our air, land, or water. They often work in offices and laboratories but may also spend time gathering samples and data from the field. They need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a science-related field for most entry-level jobs. Many have advanced degrees to focus on environmental health research.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/, visited June 2018.
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