Within the field of public health are some highly visible career paths and others that are less well-known. Because public health as a field continues to grow as the need grows, there are opportunities to literally chart your own path in your public health career. Public health professionals are needed in every area from education to science to mathematics and medicine. When you are considering your specific career interests within the field, these unusual public health careers may give you inspiration and ideas.

Defining Public Health

Public health is defined by WhatIsPublicHealth.org as, “the science and art of protecting and improving the health of communities through education, promotion of healthy lifestyles and research for disease and injury prevention.” This broad definition includes areas that are rarely mentioned such as rural and urban medicine, biomedical sciences, biostatics, epidemiology, international health and environmental health. Each of these fields can stand on their own but also relate back to public health careersas a whole.

Unusual Public Health Careers

Each of these unusual public health career paths requires a slightly different skill set. All can be accessed from an advanced degree such as a masters degree in public health. This is why public health as a field offers a rewarding career for any graduate.

  • Biostatics: Biostatics is a specific branch of the statistics field that relates to how scientific data is interpreted. In the field of public health, a biostatistician may study and analyze data relating to how people respond in disaster situations, how to best treat toxins to prevent or control disease, distinguish correlation (two things that occur together without relation) and causation (one thing causes the second thing) and other analyses projects.
  • Epidemiology: Epidemiology is the branch of medical science that works to prevent and control the spread of disease. Epidemiologists are needed in every facet of public health from community education to disaster response. Epidemiologists may also choose to study specific populations with special health concerns.
  • International Health: International health is commonly called “global health” or “geographic medicine” and the three terms are interchangeable. Here, you study how health changes across national or even international borders. One more familiar aspect of international health deals with travel health education and measures.
  • Environmental Health: Environmental health deals with every facet of health that does not stem from inside a human being. From air to water, biological to chemical, professionals in the field of public health investigate how interaction with the environment impacts human health positively or adversely.
  • Rural/Urban Medicine: Also called rural or urban health, this branch of public health studies differences between health and well-being in urban or rural communities. Rural and urban medicine also focuses on specific ways to improve education and health in rural or urban populations.

These are but a few of the unusual careers that pursuing a career in public health can offer you. Within each are also many opportunities to contribute in ways that are as unique as your particular skill set and interests.

Carter Mahoney is a public health career placement counselor with a degree in human services. He loves his job helping new graduates and transitioning professionals with public health degrees find their perfect career fit.