The public health workforce comprises individuals who work to promote and improve the overall health and well-being of populations by preventing and controlling diseases, injuries, and other health threats. These professionals come from various disciplines and work in various settings, including government agencies, non-profit organizations, academic institutions, and private companies. They work to identify and assess health problems, develop and implement prevention and control measures, and evaluate the effectiveness of these efforts.

Public health professionals also advocate for public health policies and programs that promote the health and well-being of communities and individuals. By working together and using a population-based approach, the public health workforce can significantly impact the health and well-being of communities and individuals.

Following are a few tips you can follow if you are interested in pursuing a career in public health!


1. Obtain a degree in a relevant field

One of the first steps to becoming a part of the public health workforce is obtaining a relevant degree. This could include a bachelor’s or master’s degree in public health, nursing, social work, or another health-related field. These programs typically provide a strong foundation in the principles and practices of public health and the opportunity to specialize in a particular area of interest.

Many schools also offer dual degree programs that allow students to combine their public health studies with other disciplines, such as medicine or business. However, an MSPH degree (Master’s in Public Health) is often a good starting point for a career in public health. In some cases, having a bachelor’s or master’s degree may not be sufficient to start working in the field. For example, if you wish to begin your nursing career, you will need to obtain a license, which means you need to pass the NCLEX exam. However, before reaching that point, there are exams like the HESI and TEAS, which serve as standardized tests primarily used by nursing schools and health programs in the United States for admissions assessments and tools to evaluate students’ readiness for licensure exams. To prepare for these exams, you can access free study guides for the HESI and TEAS exams. These resources will familiarize you with the exam structures and assist in your preparation. Obtaining certifications or advanced degrees can help you stand out in the job market and open up new opportunities for career advancement.

2. Gain experience

Gaining hands-on experience in the field is a great way to build your skills and knowledge and make connections in the public health industry.

Consider interning or volunteering with a public health organization, government agency, or non-profit that aligns with your interests. This is also a great way to explore different career paths and determine what type of work you are interested in after graduation.

3. Take advantage of professional development opportunities

Professional development is important for anyone working in any field. Many opportunities, such as conferences, workshops, and online courses, can help you stay up-to-date on your area of interest’s latest research and practices. Participating in these opportunities can also help you build your skills and knowledge and connect with other professionals in the field.

4. Network with professionals in the field

Networking is an important aspect of any career, and the public health field is no exception. Building relationships with other professionals in the field can help you learn more about different career paths and opportunities and get advice and support as you navigate your career.

Consider joining a professional organization, attending conferences and events, or reaching out to people in your network to make connections and build relationships.


Challenges of working in public health

Working in the public health sector is rewarding, but it can also be challenging, with high workloads and emotional demands. Public health professionals often deal with sensitive and difficult issues daily, affecting their mental and emotional well-being. It is important to prioritize self-care and manage stress to avoid burnout.

Some strategies for coping with the challenges of the job include setting boundaries, taking breaks when needed, and making time for activities that help you relax and recharge. It can also be helpful to seek support from colleagues, friends, and family, as well as help from a mental health professional if needed.

Another challenge of working in public health is limited resources and funding. This can make implementing effective programs and services difficult and lead to frustration and disappointment. Many public health organizations operate with tight budgets and must make tough decisions about allocating resources.

One way to overcome this challenge is to be proactive in seeking out grants and other funding opportunities and to be creative in finding ways to stretch resources. It can also be helpful to advocate for increased funding and support for public health programs, either through direct advocacy or by working with policymakers to educate them about the importance of these programs.

Public health professionals may also face a lack of support or recognition from policymakers or the public, which can be disheartening and demoralizing. It can be frustrating to see important public health initiatives overlooked or underfunded or to see the hard work of professionals go unrecognized.


Rewards of working in the public health workforce

One of the most rewarding aspects of working in the public health field is the opportunity to impact the health and well-being of individuals and communities positively. This can involve educating the public about health issues, implementing prevention and control measures, and advocating for policies and programs that support the health and well-being of communities.

Making a difference in the lives of others can be a deeply fulfilling and satisfying experience. Many public health professionals find a sense of purpose and meaning in their work and take pride in the impact they make on the lives of others. This sense of purpose and fulfillment can be a powerful motivator and help sustain public health professionals in the face of the challenges and demands of the job.

In addition to the personal satisfaction of making a positive impact, working in the public health field can also provide opportunities for personal and professional growth. The field is constantly evolving, with new research and developments constantly emerging. This means there are always new things to learn and new skills to develop.


The public health workforce is a vital component of the healthcare system that aims to prevent health problems from occurring or reoccurring by implementing educational programs, developing policies, and providing services that support communities.

If you are interested in this field, start with a basic degree (bachelor’s) and then obtain higher degrees and certifications according to your passion. Along with various challenges, a career in public health can be satisfying and rewarding.