Career Spotlight: Public Health Officer

Military and Civilian Roles for Public Health Officers

What Is the Role of a Public Health Officer?

Are you passionate about working in the public health field? A public health officer ensures regulations are put in place for health care organizations. Most of the time, this work can go unnoticed to the general public, but it is extremely important for the success of our health care system.

Public health officers concentrate on the overall health of communities and organizations, rather than focusing on individual patients. They work with health care institutions, organizations, and other resources to ensure the health care system follows health codes and safety practices. There are both military and civilian roles for public health officers, giving you various fields and specializations to choose from.

Public Health Officer Job Description

Public health officers can work in a variety of settings and, because of that, their job duties can vary. Overall, public health officers educate the public on specific health risks and create programs to encourage healthier lifestyles and decrease the risk of illness, infection, and disease. They can also work on policy regulations at the state and federal levels. Here are a few responsibilities of a public health officer across all fields:

  • Manage resources of health care institutions and government agencies to ensure the success of community health.
  • Research behavioral causes or diseases, environmental issues, and more.
  • Direct prevention programs for the specific industry in which they work.
  • Access the effectiveness of risk reduction actions and other interventions.
  • Create precautionary health reports for leadership and the general public.
  • Educate members of the health care system on precautionary medicine and potential health risks.
  • Implement health service delivery systems to enhance the health of a specific community.
  • Where Do Public Health Officers Work?

    A public health officer is an essential member of the health care field and is needed in a variety of industries. Check out some common sectors in which public health officers work.

    Military Bases

    Public health officers in the U.S. military system are stationed at military bases around the world.

    Common job responsibilities for public health officers at a military post include:

  • Evaluate potential threats including food services and cleanliness.
  • Identify potential outbreaks or epidemics by monitoring patterns in illness.
  • Recommend preventative health actions and report other public health issues to leadership.
  • Local, State, and Federal Governments

    Local, state, and federal governments hire public health officers to create public health initiatives. Common job responsibilities for public health officers at the local and state government levels include:

  • Monitor community health systems and public health.
  • Work as a liaison between local health care providers, community health care, and social services agencies.
  • Oversee health care employees, including public health nurses, health inspectors, and epidemiologists.
  • Work for specific agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Homeland Security, and the Food and Drug Administration.
  • Nonprofit Organizations

    Most nonprofit organizations hire public health officers to be advocates for the specialization in which they focus on.

  • Promote general healthy living and create strategies for fighting specific diseases.
  • Analyze statistics and recommend solutions.
  • Focus on health concerns affecting specific populations.
  • Advocate for health care reform and health-related laws.
  • Public Health Officer Qualifications and Education Requirements

    Depending on where you plan to pursue your career as a public health officer, the qualifications can vary. In most scenarios, a graduate degree in public health, medicine, or a related field is required as well as commissioned officer training if you are planning to enter the military. Successful public health educators are great communicators, have strong analytical skills, and are experts in their field. The average public health officer salary is $60,619 per year, according to Take a look at Excelsior College’s graduate certificate program in public health equity. In this program, you will learn how to leverage data to promote health equity and make a difference in any industry you decide to enter.