The public health field is full of diverse, multidisciplinary career opportunities that can have a major impact on the lives of people across the world. Whether at the local, state or federal levels, public health professionals seek to improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities through scientific research, policy analysis and health care reform. Using their interpersonal skills and knowledge of the policy-making process, they work to find practical solutions to the most challenging health issues of our time, from the spread of infectious diseases to the growing rate of alcohol and drug abuse.
What makes public health jobs appealing to many, however, is that professionals can often focus on issues they’re most passionate about. This, combined with the positive job outlook, makes public health analyst roles attractive to socially conscious individuals who want to transform the modern health care landscape into a more effective and equitable system. But what, exactly, do public health analysts do, what types of qualifications are needed and how can aspiring students kickstart their careers?
Public health analyst job descriptions
The job responsibilities of public health analysts tend to vary based on the organizations they work for, the health issues they’re researching and their core skills. Some public health analysts conduct site visits to assess the performance of state-run health programs, while others are focused on large-scale data analysis and reporting projects. Regardless of their employer, public health analysts are committed to understanding how major health issues affect individuals, families and communities. This often requires both emotional sensitivity and cross-cultural communication, as public health workers regularly interact with people from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Depending on the specific public health analyst role, professionals may be required to coordinate in-person interviews, assess the effectiveness of existing health programs or develop new policies to support positive health outcomes. An analyst working at the World Health Organization, for example, might focus on promoting international collaboration to develop new vaccines by speaking with foreign officials directly or advising U.S. policymakers. This would likely require extensive demographic research to identify high-risk populations, determine the effectiveness of new treatments and ensure citizens have equal access to medical resources. According to a recent job posting from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, public health analyst roles may involve the following responsibilities:
- Reviewing public health legislation, regulations and executive directive.
- Evaluating public health programs to maximize performance and efficacy.
- Developing goals, benchmarks and management plans for health organizations.
- Creating detailed reports to collate findings from ongoing policy analyses and research.
- Drafting policy briefs and position papers on key public health issues.
In terms of employment opportunities, public health analysts generally work for government agencies, research centers, nonprofit health organizations or for-profit health care companies. Those with a background in medicine might also pursue roles at in-patient medical facilities and hospitals that require at least some knowledge of patient care practices. Ultimately, each public health role will come with a different set of work duties, which is why applicants should carefully read through the job descriptions before applying.
Key qualifications: How to become a public health analyst
Public health analysts rely on their diverse technical skills, policy expertise and interpersonal abilities to collaborate with other professionals in their field, such as biostatisticians, epidemiologists, health educators and environmental specialists. Since they often act as liaisons between clinical and non-clinical staff, public health analysts must also be able to translate complex research and policy recommendations into simple language. This accounts for why many professionals start their careers with a bachelor’s degree in public health and move onto specialized graduate programs to help expand their knowledge. Obtaining a master’s degree in public health can not only provide a strong foundation in health policy creation but may also offer an in-depth look at how professionals evaluate existing programs.
Alongside educational requirements, the Public Health Foundation identifies several key public health skills that every aspiring student should prioritize, including:
- Analytical skills: Public health analysts must be able to turn raw data into actionable insights that can help solve specific health challenges. This evidence-based approach to policy assessment is particularly crucial for large communities with diverse populations.
- Policy development: To ensure their policy recommendations have the desired effect, public health analysts often create detailed implementation plans and evaluation frameworks. Without a strategic road map, it would be more difficult and time consuming to coordinate large-scale health programs.
- Financial planning: In some cases, public health analysts must defend their policy positions by demonstrating the economic value of new programs or initiatives. This often involves leveraging public health funding mechanisms and improving organizational performance through budgetary recommendations.
- Cultural competencies: When advocating for new health programs, policies and services, public health analysts must carefully assess how their proposals will impact different populations. By understanding the diverse needs of local communities, analysts can create a more equitable health care system that offers equal access and service quality to all citizens.
- Communication skills: While public health analysts rely on up-to-date research and their own expertise to formulate policy recommendations, community input is also essential. As such, public health officials must effectively communicate key information to different audiences, including the general public, government officials, health practitioners and media organizations.
Public health analyst salary and job outlook
Employment of health care professionals is expected to grow 14% between 2018 and 2028, according to the BLS, adding around 1.9 million new jobs over the forecasted period. While public health analyst is not considered a clinical occupation, professionals in this role are invaluable to the broader health care system. Currently, the BLS and other industry organizations do not provide any job growth projections for public health analysts, though similar professions do have a positive outlook. For example, employment of health educators is expected to grow by 11% from 2018 to 2028, which is faster than the average for all occupations.
According to the most recent job data from PayScale, the median salary of public health analysts is roughly $62,163 per year. Entry-level positions that require less than one year of experience typically offer around $50,628, while higher-level roles can earn as much as $113,891 annually. The more real-world experience an applicant has, the higher their starting salary.
Launch your public health analyst career with a MPH from the University of Nevada, Reno
If you’re interested in becoming a public health analyst, the online Master of Public Health from the University of Nevada, Reno can help prepare you for a successful career. This 45-credit graduate program offers an in-depth look at public health policy and practice in modern health care settings. With an emphasis on research-based knowledge and real-world insights, the curriculum is designed to help students understand the environmental, economic and sociological factors that impact both individual and community health. Through this online MPH program, you can assemble the policy expertise, technical skills and experience needed to excel in a public health analyst role.