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By Edris F.
Image Source: news.yahoo.com
Careers in Public Health and Educational Requirements
In Part 1 of this article series, we learned about what public health means in the context of COVID-19, but also in a range of contexts outside of the current pandemic. In summary of the previous article, public health is the art and science of keeping people healthy, preventing disease, improving the quality of life of human populations, increasing the average lifespan of human populations, and promoting healthy living. Public health professionals in the industry conduct health research, inform and implement health policy, and develop effective public health programs that tackle specific public health issues like COVID-19. Health organizations are focusing on a wide range of threats to our health and wellbeing, including climate change, global warming, air pollution, heart disease, cancer, flu, poverty, and many more. As you can see, social, environmental, and biomedical factors are considered when determining the threats to public health —or in other words, concerns to our health and wellbeing.
You may be thinking that this sounds really interesting, and is something you want to be involved in — after all, who doesn’t like apocalyptic films about pandemics and scientists trying to save lives?
Image Source: www.un.org/en/ccoi/contagion
Since public health is a broad field, there are many different occupations that can suit your academic background, interests, and personality. In addition to health and biology related backgrounds, even seemingly unrelated experiences within STEM fields such as mathematics, statistics, computer science, and programming all prove useful to have when becoming a public health professional. The humanities are also important backgrounds to have, especially if you’re interested in pursuing research on the social factors that influence health, such as poverty, education, agriculture, food security, healthcare access, etc.
Now, let’s talk about the educational background required for public health careers! In most of the following careers, a masters in public health is required and typically with an emphasis on epidemiology. Some of the following jobs can be obtained with a bachelors in public health, and those will be noted below.
*Note: these are Canadian educational requirements.
- Infectious Disease Practitioner
- Usually works at hospitals
- MPH epidemiology
- Health Scientist (Academia)
- MPH or MSc or PhD
- Health Promoter
- Bachelors in Public Health or MPH
- Health Policy Analyst
- Bachelors in Public Health or MPH
- Health Data analyst
- Bachelors in Public Health (specifically Ryerson BSc Public Health), or MSc bioinformatics or certification programs
- Public Health Inspector
- Bachelor Applied Science in Public Health from Ryerson University
- MSc Biostatistics or MPH epidemiology or PHD epidemiology
Note: This list is not exhaustive at all! There are many other careers in public health, ranging from the humanities to sciences to mathematics.
Where do I start?
If you’re passionate about public health and would like to pursue a public health career, a good starting point is pursuing post-secondary education, such as obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in public health. For example, Ryerson University has a Bachelor of Applied Science in Public Health program, which is also one of the only accredited programs in Canada where you can become a public health inspector upon certification and completion of your degree. If you would like to pursue graduate school after, you can apply to Master’s of Public Health programs, as you would have the necessary prerequisites.