Careers

How to Become a Public Health Professional: Career Prospects

To make a successful career in public health, one needs to understand the job role, subject material, and future prospects. Saumyadripta Chaudhuri, a public health professional with over 12 years of experience, explains how to become a public health professional in India.

1. Role of a Public Health Professional

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A public health professional is responsible for taking care of the health conditions of a community as a whole, responding to critical situations, and sudden outbreaks. In addition to that, they have to carry out research, store and analyze data, and ensure the safety of the people.

Contents: Jump to Section

1.1 Is Public Health a Good Career Option?
2.1 Courses Taken: Public Health Subjects
2.2 Entrance Exams
2.3 Academic Qualifications/ Options
2.4 License Required
2.5 Internship/ Work Experience Required
2.6 Cost of Tuition and Training
2.7 Competition &  Scope in India for Public Health Professional
2.8 General Age to Start Professional Career for Chartered Accountants
2.9 Governing Bodies
3.1 Specializations/ Sub-Professions
3.2 Companies & Institutions that Employ Public Health Professional
3.3 Growth Prospects
3.4 Entrepreneurship Opportunities
3.5 What is the Salary of Public Health Professional in India?
4.1 Top Universities in India
4.2 Top Universities in World
4.3 Famous Personalities
4.4 Useful Links

1.1 Is Public Health a Good Career Option?

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Yes

When it comes to public health, there are a variety of job roles that one can choose from such as health administrators, educators, public health officers, and more. All these different jobs not only provide lots of options but also a stable and fulfilling career ahead.

2. How to Become a Public Health Professional in India

To understand how to become a public health professional in India, one needs to take a look at the different courses that are offered nationwide, entrance exams that needs to be qualified, and colleges that can be applied to. Know about the courses, exams, and training programs available.

2.1.1 Courses Taken at School

10+2 & PCB: Physics, chemistry, biology, English.

To pursue a career in public health one should come from a science background, hence, it’s wise to take science stream or PCB in 12th grade.

An aspirant needs to necessarily have biology as one of their major subjects in 12th grade. A good knowledge of biology is required to take up careers in health sciences.

2.1.2 Courses Taken at College: Public Health Professional Course Requirements

Community Medicine, Public Finance Management, Human Anatomy.

There is a range of courses offered in public health. One can choose according to their niche and interest. The subject matter differs from one another, and one should choose wisely.

A few popular courses or subjects in public health are statistics, community medicine, public finance management, etc. On completion of these courses, the candidate is eligible to apply for job roles like public health administrators, project managers, infection control officers, healthcare manager, healthcare consultant, etc.

2.2 Entrance Exams

NEET for MBBS; entrance test based on college for BPH.

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Contrary to the usual, we don’t have a common entrance exam in case of public health. The entrances differ based on the colleges offering these courses. In case of MBBS, a student can take National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and sit through the counselling sessions to secure a seat in some of the best medical colleges.

2.3 Academic Qualifications/ Options

Bachelors in Public Health (BPH); Masters in Public Health (MPH).

After 10+2, a student can enroll in courses like Bachelors in Public Health (BPH) or BSc in Public Health and later go for Masters in Public Health (MPH).

Alternatively, one can also enter this profession after pursuing MBBS, and then doing a masters degree (MPH). Other than this, students holding a diploma course in Health Science post class 10 are also eligible to apply for a bachelors degree in public health. The candidate can further enroll in a course of their choice or go for a Masters in Public Health.

2.4 License Required

None.

As of now, there is no license required to start practicing as a public health professional.

2.5 Internship/ Work Experience Required

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Beneficial for acquiring work experience.

Internships aren’t a compulsion during the initial stages of study. However, once you go for masters then it is important to take up an internship to acquire prior work experience and gain practical knowledge in the given field.

2.6 Cost of Tuition and Training

10 thousand – 2 lacs; depending on course & college

The tuition and training fees depend on the institution and the nature of the course. It also varies depending on the duration of the course and the mode of the study. Usually, the tuition fee for bachelor courses in public health ranges from 1-2 lacs per academic year. Whereas, the average fee structure for masters in public health varies from 10,000 to 1.5 lacs per year. The fee charged is comparatively higher in private colleges.

Alternatively, if you’re doing MBBS, the fee for tuition at government medical colleges in India is ₹3-4 lacs for the total duration of 5 years. For private colleges, the fees is around ₹ 1 crore for the total duration of 5 years.

2.7 Competition & Scope in India for Public Health Professional

Extremely competitive for college entrances. Moderate to high competition in the field.

The competition is extreme for the entrance exams, especially if you are eyeing one of the best government colleges in the nation. Whereas the competition to secure a job is moderate to high.

2.8 General Age to Start Professional Career for Public Health

25-30 years

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One can start practicing as a public health professional as early as they are done with their masters. Thus it can vary from 24 to 30 years.

2.9 Governing Bodies

None

Public health sectors do not have any such governing bodies, they just comprise of professional bodies.

3. Professional Opportunities/ Career Growth for Public Health

3.1 Specializations/ Sub-Professions

Policy Expert, Health Manager, Public Health Research

There can be sub-specializations like monitoring and evaluation, public finance, policy expert, health manager, public health research, public health policy developer, etc.

3.2 Companies & Institutions That Employ Public Health Professional

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World Health Organization (WHO), World Bank

Top companies that recruit public health professionals are:

  • World Health Organization (WHO)
  • World Bank
  • UNICEF
  • DFID
  • BMGF
  • National/State Governments (health ministries)
  • USAID
  • United Nations (UN), etc.

Other than these, many private consultancy firms, which work in the development sector. These are usually the project implementers.

3.3 Growth Prospects

One of the most important parts of learning how to become a public health professional is understanding its growth prospects. In this sector, they are directly proportional to the amount of time one spends in this profession. Experience, knowledge, publications, networking, are some of the key attributes for faster growth.

3.4 Entrepreneurship Opportunities

Yes.

The public health sector offers good enough entrepreneurship opportunities. People often branch out and start their consultancy firms and then work in this field, some develop medical/ technological interventions to strengthen public health. Experience plays a vital role to establish oneself as an entrepreneur.

3.5 What is the Salary of Public Health professionals in India?

3-12 lacs per annum

The starting package would depend on the place of graduation and the degree and the firm that they are joining. For example, government, private, or project funding. But, at times even fresh graduates from reputed Indian institutions with a Public Health degree can expect good enough starting packages.

Especially, as a doctor, one can expect a salary of 1-2 lacs per month if he/she is not a doctor then 50-70 thousand per month. Certain other profiles like healthcare manager, public policy developer, etc. earn a handsome salary. For example, healthcare consultants make 12 lacs per annum, public health researcher earns 6 lacs and above.

4. Further Resources

4.1 Top Universities in India

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A few top universities in India, which offers public health courses are as follows:

  • All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)
  • PGIMER Chandigarh
  • PHFI
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai

4.2 Top Universities in World

Some of the top universities that offer public health courses around the world are:

  • John Hopkins
  • Harvard School of Medicine
  • London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

4.3 Famous Personalities

Now that you know everything about how to become a public health professional, following a few famous personalities to draw inspiration from them will be a good idea. Moreover, role models constantly motivate you.

But, I would rather suggest reading more about revolutionary stories legacies. For instance, read the book ‘House on Fire’.

4.4 Useful Links

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You can find out different categories of careers in public health here.

And more info about what to do with a degree in public health here.

If you’re looking for more information on how to become a public health professional, there are a lot of sources available online which can be extremely helpful for aspiring candidates. For example, watching YouTube videos can be enriching and add value to your knowledge.

So, those were the major pointers on how to become a public health professional. Public health sector offers sea-wide opportunities. The ones interested in the field can make the best out of it. Public health professionals also receive good enough starting packages that only increase with experience. However challenging the job role entices you to become a better version of yourself.

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Edited by Rishika Agarwal (CareerNuts Staff)

Read next:

Public Health Career Path: Is Public Health a Good Career?

Wondering if public health is a good career? Public health professional Saumyadripta Chaudhuri discusses everything from scope to pros & cons to daily work life in the public health career path.

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