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Entry Level Public Health Jobs: 10 Positions That Make an Impact

A diverse group of public health workers makes a team hand stack.


Entry Level Public Health Jobs: 10 Positions That Make an Impact

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Interested in a public health career? 

As the dust begins to settle around the Covid-19 crisis, those entering the job market may find themselves at a bit of a loss. In fact, many recent high-school and college graduates aren’t sure where to turn for employment opportunities. After all, the economy continues to fluctuate as we find our way back from pandemic-related strains and supply issues.

But, believe it or not, now is actually the perfect time to consider starting a public health career. After all, the Covid-19 pandemic only reinforced the importance of public health workers to our national health and well-being. And, according to the American Public Health Association, public health workers will continue to reduce disparities in chronic disease outcomes and promote health in communities around the globe.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Public Health Jobs

As with any path, a public health career comes with both upsides and downsides.

When it comes to advantages, there are quite a few.

  • Social Benefits. Healthcare workers are highly respected and seen as positive contributors to society.
  • Financial Incentives. Public health jobs tend to be more lucrative than some other fields, even at the entry level.
  • Job Security. Unfortunately, there will always be sick people. Therefore, there will always be a need for public health workers.
  • Satisfaction and Pride. Public health workers know that what they do makes the world a better place — for both individuals and society at large.

Naturally, public health jobs have their own unique disadvantages as well.

  • Competition. Competition for entry-level public health jobs is high.
  • Training. New hires often find that on-the-job training is both challenging and intense — especially at the entry level.
  • Weight of Responsibility. Many public health jobs come with the heavy burden of caring for other people in stressful situations. This can sometimes even mean life and death.
  • Risk. Nearly every career path involves some level of risk. Entry-level public health jobs, however, come with some risks that may be more harmful than others. These risks could include increased exposure to infectious diseases, toxins, and other medical hazards.

Knowing what you’re getting into ahead of time can go a long way toward helping you decide if you’re a good fit for a public health career.

How Do I Start a Career in Public Health?

If you decide that this field is a good fit for you, now is a wonderful time to start your career. We can see the light at the end of the pandemic, but the need for public health workers — and the need to fight diseases on a global scale — is far from over. If anything, the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of career public health workers in keeping our society healthy, informed, and protected.

And let’s not forget: public health workers have helped us reach a better place from which to fight future public health crises.

As for how to start your career in public health? Our advice varies depending on whether you have studied health education and hold a degree in public health (bachelor’s or master’s) or not.

Healthcare worker holding the COVID-19 vaccine shot.

Non-Degree Holding Entry Level Public Health Jobs

So, you didn’t attend a school of public health and don’t hold a related degree? Not to worry! Your lack of formal public health education won’t bar you from entry level public health jobs.

Many open public health positions include rigorous on-the-job training. Jobs like these require no degrees or targeted experience prior to application.

Examples of entry level public health jobs you can apply for without experience include the following:

  • Medical assistant
  • Medical billing/coding specialist
  • Assisted living care assistant
  • Occupational therapy aide
  • Emergency dispatcher

These are just a few examples of entry level public health jobs currently available. But there are dozens of additional positions that also do not require completion of a public health degree program.

Degree-Holding Entry Level Public Health Jobs

As you have seen, in many cases, you do not need to be a college graduate in order to start your career in public health. However, there are still good reasons to take the time to study public health in a formal program.

For example, applicants with a public health degree often have a competitive edge for entry level public health jobs. This includes even those jobs that do not require a four-year degree in public health or a related field:

Often, entry-level jobs don’t specifically require a public health degree. But as one program director pointed out, the public health major gives you a unique knowledge base—and that could be an advantage.

Of course, there are also positions that are only open to college graduates holding a public health degree. These include:

  • Public health analyst
  • Early intervention specialist
  • Environmental health manager
  • Research associate
  • Epidemiologist
  • Microbiologist

So, with a bachelor’s degree in public health, you’ll be able to move to the front of the line for entry level public health jobs. You’ll also be able to access more interesting — and more lucrative — positions in public health than your non-degreed peers.

But while a bachelor’s degree gives you an advantage? A master’s degree will take you even further.

With a master’s in public health (MPH), you could even get hired by the CDC, an agency that employs more MPH graduates than any other. And when you work for the CDC as a civil servant? You’ll enjoy the pride and satisfaction of serving not just your local community, but your nation as well.

What Is the Salary Range for Entry Level Public Health Jobs?

When it comes to the average salary for entry level public health jobs, there’s a wide range available. Some of these jobs pay in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, but the bulk of entry level public health jobs fall on a scale of $30,000-$50,000 per year. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a median public health workers’ income of $48,860/year and $23.49/hour.

Starting salaries will always be higher or lower depending on a number of factors, including:

  • Fluctuating costs of living
  • Industry demand
  • Level of difficulty

10 Entry Level Public Health Jobs to Make an Impact 

If you’re ready to pursue a career in public health, here are a few places we suggest you start your job search.

Health Promotion Specialist

As the name implies, health promotion specialists work to promote healthy lifestyles — not just for individuals, but within organizations, communities, and populations.

They increase awareness of healthy behaviors, such as healthy eating habits, physical fitness, and smoking cessation. And through the promotion of healthy choices and lifestyles, these specialists also prevent disease and injury. Additionally, they create and implement programs to improve community health in actionable ways.

People with masks in public during COVID-19.
If you pursue a career as a health promotion specialist, you'll have endless opportunities to improve people's lives. For example, you could work with the public on a campaign for smoking cessation or substance abuse. You could also organize public health events — or even research outcomes related to health promotion efforts!

How's that for a great start to your public health career?

Projected compensation: $50,745/year

Public Health Analyst

Public health analysts work to create efficient solutions to health problems. Additionally, they coordinate with local agencies to ensure that practical solutions to local health concerns are implemented.

People employed in this role work tirelessly to improve the quality of life and overall wellbeing of their communities. They tackle big-picture problems — like environmental hazards, substance abuse, infectious diseases, and the impact of violence.

If you pursue an entry level position as a public health analyst, you may wind up doing something like:
  • Reviewing existing programs and policies to evaluate their effectiveness
  • Identifying overall areas of concern related to health and welfare in your region
  • Developing structured plans to disrupt ongoing problems and implement improvements
Public health analysts don't always see an immediate return on their efforts, but the work they do has a huge impact over time. This can lead public health analysts to experience deep satisfaction in their chosen fields.

Projected compensation: $49,000 - $100,000/year

Environmental Health Specialist

So, the public health analysts have created a plan to meet a public health need. What's next? Well, someone needs to implement that plan. This job falls to environmental health specialists.

Environmental health specialists educate and consult clients and enforce regulations governing the sanitation of food, milk, and water; hazardous and Infectious waste; sewage; institutional environments; and health hazards. They help improve water and sanitation facilities at recreational areas, nursing homes, schools, restaurants, and other locations, and are actively involved in the overall environmental quality of a community.

During the Covid-19 crisis, many environmental health specialists have pivoted to focus on systems that can lower coronavirus transmission rates. However, their responsibilities extend far beyond the crisis. Moreover, the systems they’ve put in place will benefit us for years to come.

Because there will always be threats to public health. And environmental health specialists? They help ensure that we can all enjoy safer and healthier futures.

Projected compensation: $49,887/year

Clinical Research Assistant

Clinical Research Assistants (CRA’s) work in labs, generally as part of a team. They participate in testing, running studies, and collecting data. Because of the nature of this work, many CRA positions require a bachelor's degree in a health-related field.

Entry-level clinical research positions tend to pay less than some other public health jobs — sometimes as low as the $21,000-$25,000/year range. But some positions actually pay quite well. Additionally, the more experience you gain in the lab, the more quickly you’ll be able to level up and start earning more.

Projected compensation: $32,000 - $55,000/year


Recently, the job of hygienist was selected by U.S. News and World Report as #12 in their ranking of Best Health Care Support Jobs. This is not only because of the comfortable median salary associated with the role ($77,090), but also because of the bright future most hygienists can anticipate.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 11 percent employment growth for dental hygienists between 2020 and 2030. In that period, an estimated 23,100 jobs should open up.

No wonder the future is bright! There’s always a need for good hygienists.

Dental hygienists clean patients’ teeth and help them understand the importance of good oral health. Moreover, they instruct them on the best products to use for their unique dental situation.

The work itself can be challenging on the hygienist’s body. For example, spending many hours hunched forward at work can complicate issues of the back, neck, and shoulders. However, with regular stretching, exercise, and other posture-related preventative measures? Many hygienists enjoy long and happy careers.

Projected compensation: $77,090/year

Disease Intervention Specialist

Disease intervention specialists (DISs) are public health outreach workers mainly responsible for finding and counseling people with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) — and their contacts.

Notably, in times of public crisis — such as the recent pandemic — a DIS may shift their focus to the most imminent threat. However, they spend the bulk of their careers assisting local public health departments to wage the ongoing battle against STD transmission.

Disease intervention specialists are an integral part of our public health workforce. And those who pursue entry-level positions as DISs can anticipate challenging but fulfilling careers.

Projected compensation: $48,389/year or $23/hour

Environmental Scientist

Environmental scientists work to prevent disease and increase longevity through public health initiatives. Importantly, they work more in the lab than with the public.

The actual work they may do as a scientist varies, but may include:
  • Performing testing procedures
  • Monitoring quality control
  • Assisting other scientists in the lab
  • Tracking and ordering supplies
Though this job is entry level, it likely requires a bachelor's degree in a related field. Additionally, as with most entry level positions, the pay may start low and climb with experience.

This is one of the more technical healthcare jobs on this list. But if you meet the criteria and you're looking to start a public health career? This is as good a place as any.

Projected compensation: $76,530/year

Public Health Inspector

As the title indicates, a public health inspector ensures that public establishments follow local, state, and federal safety laws to protect public health. These establishments include:
  • Restaurants
  • Swimming pools
  • Nursing homes
  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Hotels
All of these places and more must pass regular inspections in order to stay open to the public.

Some health inspector positions require a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Others, however, are open to anyone who can pass the background checks and complete the requisite training.

Projected compensation: $51,764/year

Entry Level Healthcare Recruiter

Workforce solutions companies exist to connect the right job candidates with the right open positions. As an entry level healthcare recruiter for a workforce solutions company, you could do just that.

Entry level public health jobs recruiter using a tablet.
Many entry level healthcare jobs require you to work either directly with the public or in the lab with science and tech. This job, however, will allow you to connect with people on an individual basis.

Because this job can be done remotely, it’s a great work-from-home solution for pregnant women, too!

Projected compensation: $48,458/year

Public Health Informatics Scientist

Last but not least, the position of public health informatics scientist is one of the highest-paying entry level public health jobs available. This position compensates well because it sets an incredibly high bar for employment.

This is an entry-level position in the sense that you don't need any prior experience as an information scientist in order to apply. However, you will need at least a master’s degree (or equivalent) in a related field to qualify. Moreover, PhD’s and MD’s are preferred to other candidates.

There's no doubt that the role of Public Health Informatics Scientist is a challenging entry-level position to land. But those who succeed enjoy sizable compensation packages, including employer-paid health and life insurance.

Projected Compensation: $63,087 - $157,838/year

Are You Ready for a Public Health Career?

There’s never been a better time to start.

We may be on the downhill slope of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the national and global fight against the spread of disease is far from over.

Check out today to learn about new and exciting entry level public health jobs!

Team Lensa
Team Lensa
Team Lensa is a group of HR specialists, career counselors, and tech enthusiasts dedicated to helping job seekers navigate the employment landscape through actionable tips and insights.

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