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Public Health Management Careers: Paths To Success

November 01, 2019
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A public health manager is a leader in the field of public health. Usually, public health management professionals are part of a public health team, such as the staff of a hospital, health department or medical facility.1 However, there are roles in public health management across many organizations; public health management professionals may also be employed by advocacy groups, health foundations, nonprofit organizations or regulatory agencies.2 They oversee the work of members of their teams, develop new public health initiatives, determine the best methods to implement their programs and fulfill administrative duties.

WHAT IS PUBLIC HEALTH MANAGEMENT?

Working in public health means having an impact on the health and well-being of people on a larger scale. Individuals who work in public health may help in their local communities or they may work on a more global level. No matter which population they serve, they will make a difference in countless lives.3

A public health manager may help educate the public, for example, by providing information on HIV and AIDS treatment options, or by overseeing programs that provide specific services, such as offering free or discounted flu shots.1

WHO SHOULD WORK IN PUBLIC HEALTH MANAGEMENT?

Most people who pursue public health management careers are experienced professionals in the healthcare field.1 This is not a clinical career path; public health managers do not treat patients. However, to succeed in public health management, it's beneficial to be comfortable with public speaking and interacting with people internally (on your team) and externally (with the public at large).

Everyday tasks in public health management careers may include:3

  • Developing testing and data collection methods
  • Designing and evaluating public health initiatives
  • Implementing new methods and improvements to existing programs
  • Preparing budgets
  • Overseeing team members, reviewing their reports, and providing feedback and approval where necessary

As a public health manager, you'll need a solid understanding of business management.2 However, there are many elements that are unique to public health, such as how legal, political and economic issues in your area or nationally may affect how your public health program operates. Professionals in public health management careers must be prepared to solve complicated problems and adapt to a constantly changing environment.

PUBLIC HEALTH MANAGEMENT CAREERS: HOW TO GET THERE

  1. Education. Very few positions in public health management are available with only a bachelor's degree. Most public health management careers require at least a master's degree.3
    • Earn an undergraduate degree in public health or healthcare administration. This will lay the foundation you'll need to succeed in public health management.
    • Get a master's degree in a relevant field. A Master of Public Health degree is the most common and in-demand degree in the field, but you may also find success with a Master of Health Services Administration degree or a Master of Science in Public Health.3 You'll need to study both public health topics (such as epidemiology, environmental health and biostatistics) and legal/political topics (such as public health law or general law and ethics courses).2
  2. Work experience: Public health management careers are usually pursued by individuals with extensive work experience in healthcare already. However, to qualify for these higher-level positions, it's important to be able to demonstrate that you're ready for the task. Most Master of Public Health programs include a practicum or internship, which is an outstanding way to gain experience in the field.3 Other programs may include a capstone project with real-world relevance in which you solve a real public policy problem.2

For more detailed information on entering public health management careers, read our tips on how to become a public healthcare administrator.


If you're ready to rise to the challenge, a career as a public health manager can be a fulfilling way to enact meaningful change in the world. It's also a stable career choice: Demand for public health managers is high, and increasing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for public health managers will increase by 18 percent by 2028.4 Learn more about how Kent State University's online Master of Public Health program can prepare you to thrive, no matter what public health management career you choose to pursue.

1 Retrieved on October 22, 2019, from study.com/articles/Public_Health_Manager_Job_Description_and_Requirements.html
2 Retrieved on October 22, 2019, from healthcareadministrationedu.org/public-health-administration/
3 Retrieved on October 22, 2019, from careersinpublichealth.net/careers/public-health-management/
4 Retrieved on October 22, 2019, from www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm