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Public Health and Safety

The public health and safety field includes careers such as law enforcement, firefighting and air traffic control, among many others. Read on to learn about education and career options in this field.

Inside Public Health and Safety

A career in public health and safety involves managing the problems and dangers that occur in society every day. Workers like firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and air traffic controllers respond to society's emergencies and help keep the general public safe. Environmental safety specialists may aid in the event of disasters that could expose the public to dangerous situations or inform the public about chemical hazards; they may also help research and develop U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards, materials and training for businesses.

Education Information

Front-line responders rely heavily on practical training, and entry-level positions in public health and safety do not necessarily require an education beyond high school. However, postsecondary education may give candidates a competitive edge. Certification and licensure may be needed for some public health and safety careers, primarily those dealing with the administration of medical care.

Those who wish to become public health and safety administrators or environmental safety specialists might pursue a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree program in public health. Concentrations are available in environmental safety and public education. Depending on the specialization, coursework may include chemical and biological warfare, scientific and technical reporting, hazardous chemicals and hazardous chemical assessment, community health safety concepts and human behaviors that lead to the proliferation of diseases. Review the links below for more information regarding educational programs in this field.

Distance Learning Options

Online and distance learning degrees in public health are available for those who want to learn basic practices and theories. Coursework may include ethical and legal aspects of public health, as well as how public health is influenced by the society it serves. Here are links to a few articles offering more information about online learning programs.

Job Requirements

A career in public health and safety may require long and irregular shift work. First-line respondents must think quickly on their feet, remain emotionally impartial and be willing to put themselves in dangerous situations. Individuals who thrive on action and a fast-paced work environment may enjoy a career in public health and safety.

Career Options

Most public health and safety careers are with state and local governments, with some at the federal level. Individuals with a bachelor's degree in public health may work as community health advocates, while those with a graduate degree could work in public agency administration. Blue-collar careers in the public health and safety sector afford the opportunity to advance to supervisory positions with seniority and experience. Check out's information on a few of the career choices in this broad field.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), air traffic controllers earned a median annual wage of $121,280 in 2013. Firefighters earned median wages of $45,600 in the same year, and the median annual wage for police officers was $56,130. Additionally, in 2013, EMTs and paramedics earned a median annual wage of $31,270 (

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