Fight Against Covid-19: 10 Entry Level Public Health Jobs Needed ASAP

A diverse group of public health workers and their hands together.
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Overview

Fight Against Covid-19: 10 Entry Level Public Health Jobs Needed ASAP

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Although the COVID-19 pandemic has already been raging for an entire year, it’s hard even for experts to determine where we are in the ongoing crisis. Whether as a society we’re halfway through the pandemic, nearly finished with the crisis, or still in the beginning stages is something that only time will tell. What we do know is the need for entry level public health jobs to help fight against the pandemic.

As the crisis continues to balloon, those who are just now entering the job market find themselves at a bit of a loss. With the markets in general in an ongoing state of flux due to shutdowns and other economic strains resulting from the pandemic, many recent high school and college graduates aren’t sure quite where to turn next for employment opportunities.

Now is actually the perfect time to consider starting a public health career. According to the American Public Health Association, public health workers can help work to reduce disparities in chronic disease outcomes and make a difference in communities both around the corner and around the country.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Public Health Jobs

As with any path, a public health career comes with both positives and negatives.

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 on the entry level.
  • Job Security. Unfortunately, there will always be sick people; therefore, there will always be the need for public health workers.
  • Satisfaction and Pride. Public health workers know that what they do is actively making the world a better place, both for individuals and for society as a whole.

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

  • Competition. Competition for entry-level jobs is high.
  • Training. Particularly for entry-level positions, new hires often find that their on-the-job training is both challenging and intense.
  • Weight of Responsibility. Many public health jobs come with the heavy burden of caring for other people in stressful situations, sometimes even life-and-death.
  • Risk. Though nearly every career path involves some level of risk, entry level public health jobs come with risks that may 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 career in public health.

How Do I Start a Career in Public Health?

If you decide that this field is a good fit for you, now is actually a wonderful time to investigate starting a public health career. As we mentioned at the outset of this article, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there’s an increased need for people to set into public health roles alongside the brave men and women who are already working to treat, contain, and fight the coronavirus.

As an added bonus, much of the work they’re doing will put us as a society in a better position to fight future public health crises.

As for how to start your career in public health, our advice will vary 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

If you have not attended a school of public health or don’t hold a related degree, you don’t have to be overly concerned that your lack of formal public health education will bar you from entry level public health jobs.

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

The types of entry level public health jobs you can apply for even if you have no experience can include the following:

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

Though these are just a few examples of entry level public health jobs currently available, there are dozens and dozens of other positions that do not require you to complete a public health degree program before you apply.

Degree-Holding Holding Entry Level Public Health Jobs

Though in many cases you do not need to be a college graduate in order to start your career in public health, there are still good reasons to take time to study public health, however.

Applicants who hold a public health degree will often find themselves at an advantage when it comes to seeking entry level public health jobs, even the ones that do not require a four-year degree in a public health or 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, including:
  • Public health analyst
  • Early intervention specialist
  • Environmental health manager
  • Research associate
  • Epidemiologist
  • Microbiologist

With a bachelor’s in public health, you will be able to move to the front of the queue for entry level public health jobs and access more interesting (and more lucrative) positions in public health than may be available to your non-degreed peers.

While a bachelor’s will give you an advantage, a master’s degree will take you even further.

With a master’s in public health, you could even get hired by the CDC, an agency that employs more MPH graduates than any other. Working for the CDC as a civil servant, you could enjoy the satisfaction and pride of serving not just your local community but also the nation itself.

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

When it comes to the salary range for entry level public health jobs, while some of them pay in the hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, the bulk of entry level public health jobs fall on a scale of $30,000-$50,000 a year, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting a median public health workers income of $46,910/year and $22.55/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 Needed ASAP

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

Contact Tracer

During times of public health crisis such as the one we are currently facing due to the ongoing the coronavirus pandemic, local departments of public health will hire, train, and employ extended teams of community contact tracers.

Carefully following scripts and protocols, tracers will either visit, call, or virtually monitor cases of the disease or virus they’re currently tracking. They’ll also keep tabs with individuals who have come in close contact with anyone already diagnosed to document their symptoms, refer them for testing if necessary, and provide them with instructions for quarantine.

People with masks in public during COVID-19.
Obviously, with the COVID-19 pandemic still unfolding in North America, the current need for COVID contact tracers is high, particularly in harder-hit regions. Even after this virus subsides, there are other situations that require monitoring, and the need for contract tracers never goes away.

Working as a contact tracer is a great way to start a public health career.

Projected compensation: $20-$25/hour

Public Health Analyst

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

Tackling big-picture problems like environmental hazards, substance abuse, infectious diseases, and the impact of violence, public health analysts work to improve the quality of life and overall wellbeing for their communities.

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
Though the projects public health analysts tackle don’t always see an immediate return on their efforts, this kind of work has a huge effect over time, which can lead public health analysts to experience deep satisfaction in their chosen fields.

Projected compensation: $42,000-$94,000/year

Environmental Health Specialist

Once the public health analysts have structured a plan to meet a public health need, someone will need to implement that plan. That 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.

Due to the current COVID-19 crisis, many environmental health specialists have spent the last year or so concentrating on systems that can lower (or eliminate) the transmission of the coronavirus; however, their responsibilities extend far beyond the crisis, and the systems they’re putting in place will benefit us beyond this moment.

There will always be threats to public health, and environmental health specialists help ensure that we can all enjoy safer and healthier futures.

Projected compensation: $48,600/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 applicants to have a Bachelor of Science degree in a health-related field.

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

Projected compensation: $35,000-$55,000/year

Hygienist

Recently, the job of hygienist was selected by U.S. News and World Report as #5 in their ranking of Best Health Care Support Jobs, not only because of the comfortable median salary ($76,220) and the low unemployment rate (.05%) but also because of the bright future most hygienists can anticipate.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 5.9 percent employment growth for dental hygienists between 2019 and 2029. In that period, an estimated 13,300 jobs should open up.

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

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

The work itself can be challenging on the hygienist’s body (many hours hunched forward can complicate issues of the back, neck, and shoulders), but with stretching and exercise, as well as preventative measures taken to address issues of posture, many hygienists enjoy long and happy careers.

Projected compensation: $76,220/year

Disease Intervention Specialist

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

Though in times of public crisis such as the current pandemic (or bioterrorism events) a DIS may shift their focus to the most imminent threat, they will spend the bulk of their careers assisting the local departments of public health with managing 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: $19/hour

Environmental Scientist

Environmental scientists concentrate on preventing disease and increasing longevity through public health initiatives—though they work more in the lab than with the public.

The actual work they may do as a scientist may vary.
  • Performing testing procedures
  • Monitoring quality control
  • Assisting other scientists in the lab
  • Tracking and ordering supplies
Though this job is entry-level, it’s one that is more likely to require a bachelor of science in a related field; and 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 are looking for a place to get started with public health, this is as good a place as any.

Projected compensation: $71,360/year

Public Health Inspector

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

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

Projected compensation: $44/hour

Entry Level Healthcare Recruiter

Workforce solutions companies exist to help 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.
While many entry level healthcare jobs require you to work either directly with the public or in the lab with science and tech, this job will allow you to connect with people on a person-to-person basis.

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

Projected compensation: $47,000/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 currently available. This position compensates well because it sets an incredibly high bar for employment.

Although this is an entry-level position in the sense that you do not need any prior experience as an information scientist in order to apply, you will need the minimum of a master’s degree (or equivalent) in a related field to qualify, and PhD’s and MD’s are preferred.

While the position of Public Health Informatics Scientist is one of the more challenging entry-level positions to land, those who succeed in their applications will enjoy sizable compensation packages, including employer-paid health and life insurance.

Projected Compensation: $68,000-$130,000/year

Are You Ready to Get Started with a Public Health Career?

There’s never been a better time to get started.

Come check out Lensa now and learn about new and exciting jobs in the sphere of public health.

Our national and global fights against COVID-19 are far from over, and those serving in even entry-level positions are fighting on the front lines.

Come search current job openings and get started applying for public health jobs today!
Lensa Insights
Lensa Insights
Work is changing faster than an angry retrovirus. For jobseekers, that means one thing: adapt or die! Lensa Insights is your survival guide, offering actionable career tips to keep your future in focus.

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