A public health degree can open up a world of opportunities for those who study it. You will be able to find a career in health informatics, as a healthcare administrator or as a public health project manager. Public health jobs are ideal for people who have compassion and concern for others, so if you have chosen to study this subject, read on for more information on what you can do with a degree in public health.
Health informatics specialist
As a health informatics specialist or biostatistician, you will be tasked with analysing various types of healthcare data and applying statistical principles to public health and medical research. You will deal with clinical trials, genome projects and will be able to identify population health trends. You will have to develop statistical protocols that are efficient, analyse and monitor databases and statistics, and other skills for collecting data and making reports. This is a position best suited to someone with an analytical and data-focused mind.
Community health specialist
While informatics professionals are more concerned with collecting and analysing data, other public health jobs in Gauteng and surrounding areas, take a more holistic look at public health. These specialists are known as community health specialists. If you are interested in community health, you may have to study other subjects such as sociology, politics and biology. Once you have graduated you will use your skills in order to consider the many dynamics at play of a particular community or region that could be influencing the health of the people therein. You may be tasked with initiating wellness programs, undertaking educational activities or creating resources to promote healthy living in the area.
Environmental health specialist
The World Health Organisation (WHO) lists several areas of concern regarding environmental health and public health. These issues include pollution, climate change and electromagnetic fields. As an environmental health specialist, you will be tasked with prevention, research or community outreach in order to minimise the impact of these environmental hazards. Some public health jobs have gone so far as to include the social environment in their definition of environmental health. This means that you will need to look at how elements such as safety in certain neighbourhoods, political empowerment, and socio-economic elements. In this way, environmental health can be seen as part of community outreach, and this role suits someone who is compassionate about both people and the environment.
A public health project manager
As a public health project manager, you will have the responsibility of training staff that will be providing medical services to people suffering from diseases such as HIV/AIDS or diseases caused by war, natural disasters or even famine. You will also have to recruit and manage volunteers for the organisation you are working for, network with outside partners who can provide extra services and supervise staff working with vulnerable groups. This role is best suited to someone who is highly organised and able to handle pressure well. You will be in charge of large groups of volunteers, some of whom may not have medical experience, and so will need to have strong interpersonal skills too.
Maternal and child health professionals
Maternal and child health professionals concentrate on reproductive health, infant care and the best measures to protect the health of mothers and children. Maternal and child health is a global priority in the public health sector and students studying maternal and child health may be prepared to work in a variety of ways. Some maternal and child health professionals will go on to work with mothers and women directly, while others will become involved in public health policy formations, working to facilitate programmes that encourage better care for mothers and children. If you decide to study maternal and child health care, you will most likely be hired by government and non-profit organisations, however, there is a chance for private employment in hospitals or GP’s rooms.
Health and safety engineer
Health and safety engineers design machinery and equipment that is meant to improve human health and prevent diseases. You will be tasked with ensuring that the various products are safe to use as well as identifying potential hazards. Your other responsibilities will include investigating health and safety regulations and programmes and accidents. Checking machinery and machinery plans for any potential risks also forms part of your duties, as will verifying employee safety programmes. This role is suited to someone who has a critical way of thinking and who is observant and able to think on their feet in a crisis.
Public health jobs are as diverse as the people studying in the field. It is a career path that uses in-demand skills, meaning that you will never be wanting for a position. You could become a highly respected biostatistician or provide advice and TLC to mothers and children who need it the most. Whatever role you choose to pursue, you will be prepared to fill positions in a variety of industries.