Public Safety and Health
Read about careers in public safety and health, including employment outlook and potential earnings. Find information about degree options here, and make an informed decision about your education and future.
Is Public Safety and Health for Me?
Professionals who work in public safety and health educate people about the personal and public health issues that affect individuals and the general population. Some public health workers are trained healthcare providers who provide health assistance to those in need. As a public safety and health professional, you might help communities develop strategies to stop the spread of illness and disease or provide them with nutritional guidelines. You may also create educational materials or public outreach programs or disseminate health information through media outlets.
Careers in public health can include advocacy, policy or research work. For example, you might be employed as a health administrator, health communications specialist, nutritionist or public health manager. Some professionals work for local, state and federal health departments as food safety inspectors or health educators. Sufficient education and experience may qualify you for a position as an epidemiologist or in environmental health.
Employment and Salary Information
If you're interested in a career in public safety and health, now may be a good time to begin your search. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that jobs for health educators were projected to grow by a faster-than-average rate of 21% nationwide from 2012-2022; opportunities for medical and health services managers were expected to increase by 23%, or much faster than average, in the same period. As of May 2013, the median annual salary for health educators was $49,210, while medical and health services managers earned $90,940, as reported by the BLS (www.bls.gov).
How Can I Work in Public Safety and Health?
While there are several degree paths that can lead to a career in the field, you'll most likely need a bachelor's degree in public health or another relevant major to obtain an entry-level position. If you're pursuing a career in health or safety management, you might also consider a program in public safety administration. Undergraduate studies in biology or chemistry can be useful if your interests lie in environmental health; more science-oriented careers may require training in biostatistics or epidemiology. If you're drawn to the social aspects of health education, a program in sociology, education or psychology might also be appropriate.
Completion of a graduate program may be required for some academic, health or research positions and can lead to a Master of Public Health, Master of Science in Public Safety Management or Master of Health Administration. Doctor of Public Health programs are also available. Some schools offer graduate-level certificate programs in public health preparedness, population health or vaccine science and policy. In the United States, the Council on Education of Public Health accredits public health programs; health services administration programs are approved by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education.
Excellent oral and written skills are key to working as a public safety and health professional. Business and statistical skills are also all important in this line of work.
Certification and Licensing
In addition to a degree, some pubic safety and health professionals may need a state license, such as nursing care facility administrators. As a health educator, you may consider earning the voluntary Certified Health Education Specialist credential administered by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing. Requirements include studies in health education and a passing score on the organization's certification exam (www.nchec.org).