Chapter 3: Jobs in Public Health

Vocabulary List

(Merriam-Webster, 2023)


Public health professionals work in many different settings. Unlike clinical practitioners, such as nurses or doctors, public health professionals can work in a variety of community settings. Effective public health practitioners require skills such as communication, professionalism, basic computer skills, and more. Additionally, as disciples of Jesus Christ within the scope of public health, we have the opportunity to serve and uplift others by example. You will also learn about job titles in the public health sphere and how to search for them. 

Public Health Fields

These are the most prevalent places people work in public health fields. 


Employers have found that healthy employees are more productive and less expensive than unhealthy employees. An increasing body of research shows that money spent on worksite health promotion can return significant profits to employers. One Harvard study showed a $3.27 return for every dollar spent on programs (Baicker et al., 2010). Consequently, many companies have established wellness programs for their employees, facilitated by health educators.

Health educators in the worksite setting often focus on fitness and reduction of high-risk behaviors like smoking. Health educators may lead group exercise classes, help smokers find ways to quit, and plan marketing campaigns to recruit other employees to the wellness programs.


The most common health education setting is the community. In addition to working for public health departments, many community service and non-profit organizations also employ health educators.

A community health educator reviews the health-related data of the community, collects information from focus groups or surveys, and plans interventions to prevent health problems for people in the community. They often write grant applications for funding to implement their program plans.

A community health educator will meet with other agencies and collaborate on issues that affect many organizations. They may also prepare health education materials like brochures and social media messages, and teach groups about specific concerns, like a diabetes support group or fall prevention classes for the elderly. Their work focuses on ensuring that the entire community gets healthier.

Recently, community health educators have helped design transportation projects, like adding bike lanes to streets or increasing the buffer zone between the traffic lanes and sidewalks. Health educators also advocate for recreational spaces and environmental and air pollution changes.


Health educators may partner with community groups to change the school environment and encourage healthier habits. Encouraging changes in food services, replacing soda machines with water dispensers, and getting safe equipment in playgrounds are possible activities for a health educator in schools.

Health educators may also teach in the school setting, focusing on high-risk behaviors like tobacco, alcohol, and drugs; or on nutrition, physical activity, food safety, and hygiene. However, a full-time health teacher will need a degree in education, which is not part of the public health degree program. 

Clinical Setting

It is important to remember that public health is different from clinical healthcare. Public health work is generally in the community rather than in a clinical setting, but a health educator may occasionally work as a consultant or, when requested by a healthcare provider, help in a clinic. Health educators may be asked to work with health behavior changes such as smoking cessation, diabetes management, asthma trigger avoidance, and cardiovascular health management.

Additionally, they may provide continuing medical education seminars, teach community first aid or coordinate screening programs for chronic disease.


Your role in public health deals with health at a population level, which could include a group, community, country, or the world. This differs from nurses, doctors, or allied health professionals (like dental hygienists and x-ray technicians), who generally work on the clinical level with patients one-on-one. Public health professionals sometimes say that in public health, the whole population is their patient.

Emerging Settings

While the traditional settings are where most people with health education or entry-level public health degrees are employed, the skills that health educators possess are useful in many other ways.


One of the core skills of health educators is the ability to communicate easily with different groups and to explain complex health issues in easy-to-understand terminology. As you can imagine, this skill is useful in many different scenarios. Think about the following situations. How can you use the skills of a health educator to teach about health issues and find solutions to problems that do not necessarily require medical treatment?

Situation A: A new and unique disease has started to affect young adult men. No one knows where it came from or what causes it. There are a few similarities among the victims, but health authorities are hesitant to cause panic. The illness does not seem to kill people right away, but rather weakens the person little by little.

Situation B: A small clinic that primarily serves migrant farm workers needs help with diabetes and back injury education and prevention. About one in five patients at the clinic have diabetes and do not understand how to keep it under control. Another 25% have some kind of long-term back pain.  

Situation C: A large manufacturing company noticed that their most productive workers visit the doctor less often, are more fit, and do not miss work as often as their less productive workers. As a result, they decide to try and convince all their employees to be healthier, not because they will have fewer medical costs, but because they will be more efficient at work.

Situation D: School districts around the country are losing money for their budget. Because health and physical education (PE) are not tested on national or state standards tests, the local school district is proposing to eliminate all but two health and PE teaching positions. These two teachers will be "floaters" and spend one day each week at a different school.

Situation E: A community is dealing with an increase in the number of mosquito-borne illnesses.

As you may recognize, these are actual situations that health educators have faced in the last 30 years. Situation A occurred when human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was discovered in the United States in the early 1980s (Katz, 2005). Situation B happens in nearly every small farming town in the United States (Thompson et al., 2015). Situation C is a quick description of Ford Motor Company and their initial decision-making process to begin a robust and effective worksite health promotion program (Wojnar, 2007). Situation D, unfortunately, occurs in schools all over the world, despite volumes of data that say healthy and active children score better in other subjects than inactive and unhealthy children (Osborne et al., 2016). Situation E occurred in Yucatan, Mexico, where there was a reported increase in Zika virus infections in pregnant women (Romer et al., 2019)

The Job Market Outlook in Public Health

New health professionals are frequently interested in knowing what job prospects are available when they graduate. Jobs in this sector are on the rise globally. 


See the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Health Data Repository.

Jobs in the US public health sector are listed at Bureau of Labor Statistics Website.

Public health encompasses many different titles including these examples:

Job Preparation

The Lord wants us to be self-reliant. Finding jobs in your chosen career will help support yourself and your family. The employment services of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have many resources for the job seeker.

Hard and Soft Skills

Employers look for applicants who have both hard and soft skills (Doyle, 2021).

Hard skills can be acquired in the classroom or on the job, such as keyboard skills or training to operate a machine. You can often prove your hard skills with a certification badge or diploma. Your Community and Environmental Health Certificate can document your hard skills in public health.

Soft skills are about interactions with others, such as friendliness, leadership, flexibility, and teamwork. You can’t prove your soft skills with a certificate, but you can show them by sharing examples of how you have used them in other situations. 

APA Format

When starting the body of your paper this week, make sure that your paper follows the correct format of each section of the paper. 

Remember, your entire paper should be in Times New Roman and 12 point font. There are no running headers on student papers unless the professor asks for one. For this assignment we do not want you to use a running header. 

Your main body of the paper will be left aligned, which means each sentence starts on the left side of the paper. 

As you write your introduction and prevalence paragraphs this week, you will want to ensure that your paper looks like the example below. 

An image depicting an example of an APA formatted body of a paper. See the appendix for a more detailed description

See the appendix for a more detailed description of the image.

Introduction and Prevalence Paragraph

As you write your introduction and prevalence paragraphs, pay special attention to the highlighted areas below. 

An example document showing the different parts of an APA formatted essay. See the appendix for a more detailed description.

See the appendix for a more detailed description of the image.

Hook: Your first sentence is a general statement about the prevalence of your topic. This sentence hooks the reader and makes them want to read more.

Statistics: Include statistics and data about the prevalence of your topic among your target population. 

Thesis Statement: The last sentence of the first paragraph should be your Thesis Statement. A Thesis Statement states what you will talk about in your paper. A strong Thesis Statement expresses one main idea, clearly identifies the topic, and includes points discussed in the paper.


Baicker, K., Cutler, D., & Song, Z. (2010). Workplace Wellness Programs Can Generate Savings. Health Affairs, 29(2), 304–311.

Doyle, A. (2021, November 5). Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills: What’s the Difference? The Balance.

Katz, M. H. (2005). The Public Health Response to HIV/AIDS: What Have We Learned? In The AIDS Pandemic (pp. 90–109). Elsevier.

Merriam-Webster. (2023). Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Merriam-Webster.

Osborne, R., Belmont, R. S., Peixoto, R. P., Azevedo, I. O. S. de, & Carvalho Junior, A. F. P. de. (2016). Obstacles for physical education teachers in public schools: An unsustainable situation. Motriz: Revista de Educação Física, 22(4), 310–318.

Romer, Y., Valadez-Gonzalez, N., Contreras-Capetillo, S., Manrique-Saide, P., Vazquez-Prokopec, G., & Pavia-Ruz, N. (2019). Zika Virus Infection in Pregnant Women, Yucatan, Mexico. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 25(8), 1452–1460.

Thompson, R. H., Snyder, A. E., Burt, D. R., Greiner, D. S., & Luna, M. A. (2015). Risk Screening for Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes in Latino Migrant Farmworkers: A Role for the Community Health Worker. Journal of Community Health, 40(1), 131–137.

Wojnar, C. (2007, June). The Ford Motor Company Partnership Reduces Illnesses and Injuries on the Worksite | Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

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