7 Public Health Careers (+ How to Get Started)

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Jobs in public health are in demand and can be a fulfilling way to earn a living. Here’s how to get started.

[Featured image]: A nurse in blue scrubs, working in a hospital, analyzes information on his computer.

Public health is a discipline concerned with the health of the population, especially as it pertains to government regulation and support. This career path involves making decisions around hygiene, epidemiology, and disease prevention. Unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic heightened awareness of the important role that public health professionals play in fostering a safe and healthy society. 

Overall, Job Bank Canada expects jobs in health care jobs to grow 2.1 per cent through 2024, exceeding the 1.3 per cent average for all industries [1]. Public health differs from other health careers in that it focuses on protecting and promoting health in populations rather than on diagnosing and treating individual patients.

Learn more about the 10 essential public health services: 

Why pursue a career in public health?

Some people are drawn to public health for reasons other than just money. They might pursue this career to help address health regulations and policies at a broader level and positively impact local or global governance. The pandemic highlighted the importance of health education and preventative health measures, exposing inequities and flaws in these systems.

In education, public health is commonly offered as a master’s in public health (MPH), which can lead to many public health careers. Having a master’s can give you a boost in salary and an opportunity to pursue advanced job opportunities.


The median annual salary for public health workers in Canada is $83,908. The salary range starts from $68,835 for entry-level workers and tops out at $111,541 for more experienced workers. Of course, the type of job and the province or territory in which you work will impact how much you make [2]. 

7 emerging public health careers

This rewarding career path has many potential roles. Here are some emerging public health careers to choose from. The salary information below is for occupations based in Canada

1. Medical and health services manager

  • Average annual salary (CAD): $83,588 [3]

  • Typical requirements: Bachelor’s degree, though a master’s is also common, and you may need specialized work experience or license, depending on where you work.

As a medical and health services manager, you’re responsible for planning and coordinating services for doctors and nurses in a health care facility, department, or medical clinic. You’ll have to stay updated on changes to health care regulations, laws, and new technologies. This role may involve training staff, developing team goals, and monitoring budgets and performance, so it requires good organizational and communication skills.

2. Biostatistician

  • Average annual salary (CAD): $77,323 [4

  • Typical requirements: Bachelor’s degree at minimum, but most roles require at least a master’s degree and prefer a doctorate degree

A biostatistician answers pressing questions in public health and medicine using statistical analysis. They might research what causes cancer, whether a new prescription drug works, how harmful certain chemicals are for the body or how long a pandemic will last. They design clinical trials to evaluate drug or patient outcomes using data like disease rates or genetic information. If you enjoy applying statistics and math to global health, this can be lucrative.

3. Health care consultant 

  • Average annual salary (CAD): $71,195 [5]

  • Typical requirements: A bachelor's degree or college diploma in health science, public administration, recreation administration, or hospital administration, or a bachelor's degree in social science, is required. You may also need a graduate degree. 

Health care consultants are a specialized version of management consultants or business analysts that health care organizations hire to focus on examining a medical or pharmaceutical company to improve production, supply chain, and other lean management methods. Using data analysis, you’ll work with the company to prescribe ways to make it more efficient. You’ll often be a contracted employee or independent contractor.

4. Epidemiologist

  • Average annual salary (CAD): $86,263 [6]

  • Typical requirements: Must have a Master’s degree in epidemiology, public health, or other health-related field and experience working in a public health organization or profession

Epidemiologists investigate patterns and causes of diseases, injuries, and disorders in society. They work to reduce their occurrence and risk with research, education, and health policy, so they work in governments, the private sector with health insurance or pharmaceutical companies, or in non-profit organizations. 

Epidemiologists typically specialize in maternal health, infectious diseases, environmental health, genetics, emergency response, or mental health. You might consider epidemiology if you feel strongly about one of these subjects.

5. Occupational Health and Safety Specialist

  • Average annual salary (CAD): $75,412 [7]

  • Typical requirements: Post-secondary degree in science with a specialization in occupational health and safety, as well as four years working in health and safety.

As an occupational health and safety specialist, you’ll collect data and analyze different workplace environments to ensure they’re following health and safety regulations correctly. You will inspect workplace environments and equipment, write reports, and educate workers with training programs. 

This can be a great opportunity for someone who is organized and enjoys routines, rule enforcement, and interacting with others.

6. Social and community service manager

  • Average annual salary (CAD): $82,358 [8]

  • Typical requirements: Most roles will require a college or university program in social work, child and youth care, psychology, or other social science or health-related discipline. 

Social and community service managers typically oversee teams that provide public services, so those who specialize in public or global health would be involved in health advocacy. You’ll help manage projects and design programs that address health for a particular group, such as children or those experiencing homelessness or drug abuse. Skills needed for these roles include communication, analysis, problem-solving, and time management.

7. Health Education Specialist

  • Average annual salary (CAD): $73,929 [9]

  • Typical requirements: A bachelor's degree or college diploma in health science, public administration, recreation administration, or hospital administration, or a bachelor's degree in social science is required. Some roles may even require a graduate degree.

Health education specialists teach people about wellness and how to be healthy. They devise strategies to improve well-being by assessing the needs of individuals and communities, educating them about health, and advocating for public health reform. Health education specialists might work in health care facilities, non-profits, and public health departments to advance society’s knowledge of good health practices.

Explore public health with Coursera.

Earn a master’s degree in public health to fast-track your career in addressing the world’s biggest health challenges. Choose from the Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan, the No. 2 public school of public health, or the Global Master of Public Health from Imperial College London, one of the world’s top 10 universities.

Article sources


Government of Canada Job Bank. “Industry Brief - Health Care and Social Assistance: Atlantic Region 2022, https://www.jobbank.gc.ca/trend-analysis/job-market-reports/atlantic-region/sectoral-profile-health-care.” Accessed May 2, 2024.

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