How to Be a Good Candidate for a Public Health Job

Besides any educational requirements that a career in public health might entail (there are many public health careers out there, ranging in education requirements from an associate to doctorate degree), there are certain qualities and traits that employers look for in candidates for positions in this field. This page will help prospective public health candidates prepare for roles in public health, become aware of what requirements public health organizations are looking for in employees, and learn helpful tips for interviewing. Be sure to take a look at the requirements below!

Competitive Educational Background.

Public health is a broad field, so it is important for candidates to be well-rounded and have the professional knowledge that is needed. However, since public health is a diverse field, organizations who are involved in public health seek out graduates at all degree levels for different reasons.

In bachelor’s in public health programs, students are likely to have a solid understanding of public health from a broad perspective. Their understanding of the theories and principles surrounding public health can make them a great addition to public health organizations that work directly with the surrounding community and public.

At the graduate level programs, students typically choose a specialty in public health to go alongside their degree. This specialization can provide more expertise, which is needed by employers for positions with a specific purpose, such as Epidemiology, Biostatistics, or Policy Development. At the highest degree level, the Ph.D., students can have the best knowledge of the research associated with the delivery of public health programs.

Learn more about online master’s degree programs:

No matter what level of education, there are plenty of attributes that employers look for when selecting candidates, such as those listed below. It is always best to study hard, equip yourself with comprehensive and in-depth knowledge of the field, and have the appropriate degree for the position you are applying for.

Be a Team Player.

In Public Health, most career fields will be a part of a larger team. Data is communicated among different areas in order to properly develop and maintain public health programs. Being a team player means completing your tasks on time and delivering them to the right people before assigned deadlines. Being a helpful source of information and supporting your team is also required.

Organizational Skills.

Dealing with large sums of data can be overwhelming for some people, but in the field of public health you must have the ability to organize and maintain data on a regular basis. Keeping track of what you have collected, what is due, and what you are responsible for can set you on track for success while working for public health agencies.

Complex Problem Solving Skills.

One interesting thing about working in public health is the complexity of the work involved. The entire purpose of the field of public health is to provide answers to questions about illness and disease and to develop programs to help people protect themselves from them. Problem solving skills can help you find answers and continuously seek conclusions that are needed to be a success in this field.

Light Physical Work.

While not all positions include this requirement, it is commonly seen when searching for jobs in public health. Most requirements state that applicants should be able to lift at least 20 pounds, mostly to ensure that every day duties can be handled without difficulty.

Computer Skills.

The use of technology in public health is rising constantly. In order to work in public health data systems and enter important research findings into a large database, applicants need to have some experience in working with computers. Most companies require that applicants have knowledge of Microsoft Word or Excel, while others in Biostatistics or Epidemiology may require a more advanced knowledge.

Communication Skills.

In order to effectively reach people within the community, you may need to have strong communication skills. It can sometimes be a daunting task to convince the public to involve themselves in helpful prevention and treatment programs. Since a lot of public health positions involve teaching or working directly with members of the community, it is important to have a great communication ability in order to properly reach those in need.

Responsible Work Ethic.

Public health is an extremely important component in overall community health. Members of this career field should be dedicated, hard working, and passionate about their cause. Having a strong work ethic can help you truly enjoy the work that you do and contribute to the success of the company in which you work. Showing a history of hard work and a strong work ethic can help you obtain the career of your dreams.

Fully Prepared for Each Interview.

Finally, you want to be as fully prepared as possible when interviewing for your public health role. This includes:

  • Making sure your resume is updated and highlights experiences related to the position you are applying for
  • Having multiple, printed copies of your resume to give to your interviewers
  • Researching the company in advance
  • Making sure the company’s mission and values match your own
  • Knowing your interviewer’s name and position (hint: look them up on LinkedIn!)
  • Having prepared questions about the company and role
  • Viewing potential interview questions and practicing answering them
  • Having writing samples or examples of previous projects you have worked on that can relate to the job you are applying for

Most importantly, it’s better to do research to have a thorough understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the jobs you apply. What does this profession do? What are the valuable attributes that can help you succeed in the interview? Besides the job description in the postings you should study, you may also find the career guide below are helpful:

Plan Ahead

Job hunting may be frustrating sometimes. Some employers may require a minimum education level or certain certified skills to be qualified applicants. Candidates then need time to prepare and complete the degrees or certifications beforehand. For example, if you want to become an epidemiologist, a master’s degree is usually required; if you are interested in healthcare administrations, some healthcare administrator certifications may help you gain a competitive edge. If you don’t want the education level or certification to be a barrier in your career, plan ahead and check the requirements as early as possible. Read our guide to Continuing Education and Professional Development in Public Health to know more what else you can do after graduation.

Information last updated July 2020