Why work in public health?
Find out about developing public health knowledge and skills, the rewards of a public health career, and the settings you could work.
Skills and knowledge needed to work in public health
If you decide to work in public health, you'll be developing knowledge on subjects such as:
- differing health needs
- what influences our health and wellbeing
- how to prevent ill-health and promote health
And you will be developing skills in areas such as:
- analysing and interpreting information on people and health
- reviewing literature on what works to make a difference
- effective communication, joint working and leadership
These are just a few examples of the kinds of knowledge and skills you might gain. A more detailed framework exists of all the knowledge and skills (or competencies) in public health.
If you can make change happen and believe passionately about improving and protecting people's health and wellbeing, then public health is the career for you.
The rewards of a public health career
Here's what some people working in public health roles say about what they do:
- “working as a director of public health to bring government departments and organisations together has been really rewarding”
- "it was great to know that our work in environmental health on controlling a food poisoning outbreak protected other people from further harm"
- “my proudest accomplishment as a health trainer is the development of a client-centred service that is making men’s health matter”
Working in public health also means that you can get to work at local, regional, national and international levels:
- Local levels Expand / Collapse
- with individuals and families
- with and for local communities
- with organisations that deliver services to individuals, families and communities (eg local authorities, health services, charities and independent organisations)
- in teaching and research
- Regional and national levels Expand / Collapse
- with organisations that plan services and develop policy (eg government departments, head offices for health services, social care organisations, charitable organisations, large companies)
- International levels Expand / Collapse
- with other countries and organisations to control the global spread of diseases (such as pandemic influenza, ebola) or in responding to natural disasters with a major impact on public health (such as earthquakes and floods)
- with organisations whose main focus is improving health outcomes in low or middle-income settings (eg charitable organisations, UN organisations)