Career Pathways

Job Roles in Public Health

What is public health?

Public health can mean many things to different people. Here are some of the main aspects are that, public health:

  • aims to maintain, improve and protect the public’s health and wellbeing
  • aims to reduce inequalities in health.
  • tends to focus on health at a population rather (e.g. a geographic, demographic or ethnic group)

Public health mainly focuses on three domains:

  • health protection – protecting people’s health, for example, from environmental or biological threats
  • health improvement – improving people’s health, such as helping people stop smoking or increasing physical activity
  • healthcare public health – ensuring that our health services are accessible, effective and efficient

Why work in public health?

There’s no better time to be a part of the effort to promote and protect the health of the UK. We have spoken to many people working in public health and over and over again they say they started working in public health are passionate about helping people to improve their health and change people’s lives. Once you start working in public health and see the direct impact it can have on a population it can be a very rewarding career.

How do I get a career in public health?

There is no standard route into public health. Roles are very varied from improving smoking rates to increasing vaccination rates to epidemiology. Public Health Jobs will give you an insight into what jobs are available, the qualifications and the skills that you need.

What job roles are available in Public Health?

In public health, there are a range of career options from graduate roles to senior positions.

You can look through the different job roles below to find out more about what each position involves.

What’s the difference between core public health roles and the wider public health workforce?

The core public health workforce tends to be job roles that clearly show public health as being the main part of their role.

The wider public health workforce includes anyone who is not working directly in public health but has the opportunity or ability to improve the public’s health, even though they may not realise it. For example, the police, a pharmacist, a town planner or leisure centre manager.

Do I need a degree to work in public health?

You do not necessarily need a degree to work in public health, it depends on the specifications of the job role. However, to work in an academic or high-level role a degree would be beneficial. Also studying for a Masters degree in public health will give you a significant advantage.

How can I get work experience?

Many university degrees and apprenticeships, will give you some level of experience. However, you could also get a work experience placement. This could be just for a few hours a week or a couple of days.

You could also offer to volunteer for a one-off project or a weekly commitment that you work around University work or other employment.

What is the public health specialty training programme?

There is one round of recruitment in November each year. Successful applicants start in August each year. The number of vacancies changes each year, but there are usually 60-90 places offered.

Applicants for specialty training in public health come from a wide variety of backgrounds. The eligibility criteria are subject to change annually; here’s some more information from the Faculty of Public Health.

If you’re accepted to the training programme, you’ll usually be employed full time for five years to complete the training. This usually includes spending one year on an academic course and four years of on the job training.

Are there any other routes to train in public health?

Yes, there is a portfolio route, which is run by the UKPHR. You will be expected to present a portfolio of experience for assessment, to demonstrate that you have gained sufficient experience that is deemed to be equivalent to completing specialty training. The portfolio is then assessed by UKPHR.

Do I have be to registered with a professional body to work in public health?

Some public health professionals are subject to statutory regulation, such as directors and public health consultants with medical backgrounds, public nurses, health visitors and some specialists.

What is the typical salary of a public health employee?

The pay rates can vary greatly among different employers and job roles. For example, a Health Trainer may receive £18000 per year, whereas a Health Promotion Practitioner may receive £28000 per year and a Public Health Consultant may receive around £78,000 upwards.

Where can I get career development help?

Public Health Jobs runs an online short course to help you get your CV, covering letter and LinkedIn profile up to scratch. It also walks you through how to stay on top of your job search, mastering interview skills and developing a career plan.

I have some more questions who can I contact?

Get in touch here and we will be happy to help where possible.

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