Public health jobs are varied and can incorporate just a local area, or responsibilities for an entire state or nation. They include jobs that are very technical and medical in nature, as well as jobs that do not involve medicine at all. Those divisions within the spectrum of public health careers mean there is often something for almost everyone. Being involved in public health jobs means, by definition, working for the government at some level.
The most common public health job is likely to be the local health officer, who may also be known as the public health nurse in some cases. This individual is responsible for spreading the word about contagious diseases seen in the area, and also to act as a spokesperson and ambassador for a local health department. A public health nurse may also coordinate efforts with the local media to get the word out in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
There are also public health jobs for epidemiologists. These individuals are responsible for studying the spread of a disease and recommending measures of control. This may involve simply getting the word out about proper hygiene and cooking methods, or it may involve far more drastic measures. They may recommend quarantines for certain diseases, or shutting down schools and daycares in the event of widespread outbreaks.
Depending on the scope of the agency, public health jobs could also involve many other occupations as well. For example, some public health agencies offer HIV treatment, mental health counseling, and substance abuse treatment, as well as providing for reproductive health. Those who cannot afford to go to private practices for these issues may seek treatment or advice from a public health agency.
As with any large agency, public health jobs will also involve administrators, support staff, IT experts, and even media relations professionals. These public health professionals, while not on the front lines battling disease, each add something to the system. Preference for these public health jobs may be given to those with backgrounds in medicine, but are not strictly limited to those individuals.
Those interested in public health jobs should do research into the area they are most interested in. Many of the jobs available require nothing less than a degree in medicine or nursing, similar to what a private sector job may require. The benefits are that work in the public sector may involve more stable hours, or perhaps a better benefits and retirement package, though this will, of course, depend on the employer.