Public Health

What is Public Health?

Public health is an emerging field that utilizes education and research to promote healthy lifestyles.  Public health focuses on health promotion and disease/injury prevention, while clinical health (veterinarians, doctors, etc.) focuses on disease treatment. Some of the achievements of public health professionals include vaccine development and infectious disease control. Public health scientists work to prevent disease and educate the public. The field challenges professionals to confront complex health issues, such as improving access to health care, controlling infectious disease, and reducing environmental hazards, violence, substance abuse, and injury. The field of public health is very diverse and includes a host of specialists such as teachers, journalists, researchers, administrators, environmentalists, demographers, social workers, laboratory scientists, and attorneys. Potential jobs available at health departments include Food Safety Inspector, Health Educator, Policy Analyst or Epidemiologist. Other public health professionals can find work in university systems as researchers. Many public health professionals find careers with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) working as microbiologists, chemists, epidemiologists, veterinarians, statisticians, nutritionists, medical officers, or risk assessment scientists. Those interested in working for a non-profit organization can find jobs in health advocacy, policy, or research for organizations such as the American Cancer Society, the Red Cross, or a local non-profit that focuses on specific health issues.

What type of education is required?

Public health professionals come from varying educational backgrounds and can specialize in an array of fields, thus education requirements vary from a bachelors to a PhD.

What is the expected salary?

Salary varies from $50,000 – $160,000 depending on advanced degree earned and job placement. PhD public health professionals typically earn salaries in the higher range. Government public health positions are also higher-paying, while non-profits are generally on the lower end.

How can I prepare myself for a job in Public Health while at NC State? 

NC State offers a minor in Global Health as well as two Global Public Health classes: (1) Epidemiology and Statistics in Global Public Health, and (2) Global Health and Physiology. Students interested in public health should pursue a variety of research opportunities during their time at NC State to explore the experimental side of public health. Research opportunities can be found through the Office of Undergraduate Research.

What kind of experience is required?

The pre-professional work experiences required in public health vary and depend heavily on the career/position a student is interested in. Students should pursue experiences such as internships, volunteer, and work-study positions within departmental or government agencies and fields that they are interested in working in. More information about finding experiences within the Public Health field can be found here.

Where can I find more information?

Career Opportunities

Visit this Public Health Careers webpage for an exhaustive list of all potential Public Health Career paths: