What Does a Public Health Consultant Do?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Explore the field of public health consulting, including the typical skills and background you’ll need to become one.

[Featured Image] A public health consultant smiles at a person across the desk while explaining information on a mobile device.

Public health consultants work within organizations to improve access to health care and promote ongoing positive health outcomes. These professionals strategize and direct projects related to the delivery of health care services.

Health care organizations bring consultants into their business for third-party input to optimize the organization operationally and financially. As a consultant, you would spot weaknesses in the organization, seek to make leadership aware of the issues, and collaborate to create and implement solutions to problems they face.

Advantages to public health consultant roles may include increased flexibility and autonomy. Consultants often travel and typically work in a clinical setting. If this sounds like the type of job that meets your goals, you’ll need a combination of the right skills, education, and experience. Explore more about what public health consultants do and what it takes to become one to envision the path forward.

What is a public health consultant?

Professionals in this role help health care organizations run more effectively. They identify areas of improvement in the organization, balancing financial concerns or inefficiencies with the standard of patient care and satisfaction.

Health consultants can work in various settings, including hospitals, federal government and state agencies, health insurance providers, pharmaceutical companies, and private clinics.

What does a public health consultant do?

Public health consultants play essential roles in allowing health care organizations to optimize efficiency and improve patient care with recommendations to enhance clinical and administrative operations. Public health consultants aim to save time and resources for health care organizations. In this job, you will also perform analyses, collect project-related data, maintain records specific to the health care facility, aid leadership in strategic management, and help guide organizations in regulatory compliance.

While public health consultants work with organizations, they often work with third-party organizations such as consultancies or law offices. Clients who bring on health consultants expect them to take charge of wide-ranging initiatives, as they benefit from an outsider’s perspective. If you opt for self-employment as a public health consultant, you will enjoy increased flexibility and the option to work full- or part-time.

Tasks and responsibilities

Your everyday duties as a public health consultant can be wide-ranging, depending on the needs of client organizations and your particular area of interest. Organizations seek the perspective of consultants for assistance with financial, administrative, or clinical needs.

Tasks of a public health consultant typically include:

  • Compiling reports on budget, revenue, staff, and operations

  • Interviewing personnel to collect information

  • Providing recommendations to leadership on observations

  • Evaluating the effectiveness of electronic health record (EHR) platforms and IT systems

  • Identifying organizational goals and objectives

  • Overseeing compliance with regulatory obligations

  • Keeping records of facility operations and resources

  • Updating key stakeholders on the progress of ongoing projects

  • Recruiting, hiring, and training new staff members

  • Scheduling shifts for staff members

  • Presenting recommendations and findings to leadership and stakeholders

Public health consultant skills

A public health consultant must bring strong analytical skills, plus competency in clinical and business contexts, to the table for clients. If you opt to remain self-employed, you will also need to develop skills related to running a business. Keeping track of project progress, invoicing for services, and networking to acquire new business are key aspects of working as an independent consultant.

This job requires a mix of technical and workplace skills. Let’s explore some of the primary ones to consider developing. 

Technical skills

Financial acumen: Health care organizations seek consultants’ perspectives in part to make their business more profitable or to limit wasted resources. Having the capability to interpret financial statements and budgets will make you a valuable asset to a health care organization.

Ability to guide policies and procedures: An in-depth knowledge of how to increase the effective delivery of health care services and initiatives through new policies and procedures is important for a health consultant. Improved policies and procedures allow organizations to become more efficient and deliver more impactful care to patients.

Systems analysis: Public health consultants must manage systems, including a health care organization’s environment and operations. Management of employee scheduling, workflow, or performance evaluation are commonly part of a consultant’s duties for a client.

Workplace skills

Working with a diverse range of people: Accessibility to a diverse range of people is a goal of public health organizations. Consultants should be comfortable leading outreach to different population segments. Promoting diversity initiatives among an organization’s staff is also an essential area of interest.

Communication: Communication skills are crucial for public health consultants, as they must communicate with several points of contact in an organization to relay information, present findings, and share insight. Written and verbal communication are vital skills for this profession.

Attention to detail: Organizations expect consultants to find inefficiencies that people within the organization haven’t been able to spot. Attention to detail with regard to clinical operations and finances is an invaluable trait.

Public health consultant salary and job outlook

Public health consultant salaries range between $71,000 and $126,000 per year, not including additional forms of compensation like bonuses and profit-sharing opportunities, according to Glassdoor’s February 2024 data [1]. Additionally, opportunities to become a public health consultant in the US are abundant.

Medical and health services manager positions in the US are expected to grow much faster than average from 2022 to 2032, with 28 percent growth anticipated throughout the decade, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics [2].

Public health consultant career path

The career path toward becoming a public health consultant typically includes an undergraduate education in public health or another applicable major, such as social sciences or humanities.

Education and training

You can take the first step toward a career as a public health consultant by earning a bachelor’s degree in a topic such as epidemiology, business administration, health administration, or management. An internship in a field related to health care may also be necessary.

Professional experience

Gaining experience in a health care setting, whether clinical or administrative, is an excellent next step toward becoming a public health consultant. Establishing credibility and building a professional network to tap into for more consulting opportunities is also critical.


Consider earning a relevant certification to help increase your credibility, sharpen your skill set, and gain credentials you can share with prospective clients and employers. You may also find opportunities to expand your networking abilities and gain endorsements that elevate your profile as a consultant. Examples to consider include the National Board Of Public Health Examiners' Certified in Public Health (CPH) or the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES), offered by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc.

Learn more with Coursera.

You can take a step toward becoming a public health consultant by learning the ins and outs of the health care industry in The University of Pennsylvania’s specialization, The Business of Health Care, on Coursera. This Specialization helps you keep pace with the changing nature of the health care business, with lessons on the business and financial aspects of the industry. Another option, Foundations of Public Health Practice from the Imperial College of London, can help you gain a robust foundation in public health, how to use data and intelligence tools, and operational effectiveness.

Article sources


Glassdoor. “Salary: Healthcare Consultant in United States 2024, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/healthcare-consultant-salary-SRCH_KO0,21.htm” Accessed February 27, 2024.

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