Best Public Health Courses Online [2023]

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrust public health experts into the spotlight, as policy makers and the public alike turn to them for guidance on how to navigate this unprecedented crisis. For example, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has become a household name for advising the federal government on its response to COVID-19 as part of his distinguished career guiding six US Presidents on numerous domestic and global public health issues.

In other cases, public health professionals’ work often takes place “behind the scenes” of healthcare, providing the research, education, and expertise needed to prevent more familiar illnesses and injuries. Additionally, the field of public health is inherently multidisciplinary, with professionals coming from many different fields and working in many different contexts.

For example, academic researchers such as epidemiologists play a critical role in investigating patterns and causes of diseases such as diabetes and cancer across populations, and sociologists establish the social factors that may underlie these patterns. These highly-educated public health experts generally have masters degrees such as a Masters in Public Health (MPH), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A background in the ‘hard’ sciences such as biology, engineering, or chemistry can also be valuable preparation for a career in public health. Environmental scientists use knowledge of biology and other life sciences to protect human health. Health and safety engineers rely on expertise in engineering as well as health to minimize risks from the built environment. In a more specialized way, occupational health and safety technicians collect data to analyze potentially hazardous work environments such as factories or industrial plants to identify potential health risks and develop adequate safety procedures.

Whether combating a global pandemic or helping members of specific communities or professions live healthier lives, public health jobs can intersect with many different types of career paths, and offer an opportunity to make a difference without necessarily having to go to medical school or work on the front lines of patient care.