Job Options and Career Info for Community Health Majors

Graduates with a major in community health, work for organizations that promote healthcare access, health education and wellness in particular groups and communities. Get a quick view of some career options in the field of community health as well as details about educational requirements, job outlook and salary information.

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With a major in community health, it is possible to pursue a career as an environmental health officer, health and safety manager or industrial hygienist. These careers involve protecting or improving the health of citizens through monitoring environmental hazards, workplace safety measures, or informing the public about health issues and disease prevention.

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Essential Information

Community health majors are prepared for a wide range of careers, all of which are focused on improving or protecting the health of populations at risk for injury or disease. Graduates with a degree in community health are employed in community health clinics or centers, hospitals, schools, government health agencies, social service organizations, private corporations and many other groups. Community health work generally involves investigating and analyzing the causes of poor health and disease; providing health education to affected communities; implementing programs to improve health and healthcare access; and advocating for public policy that supports community health. Some possible career options for community health majors include environmental health officer, health and safety manager and industrial hygienist.

Career Environmental Health Officer Health and Safety Manager Industrial Hygienist
Education Requirements Bachelor's Degree Bachelor's Degree Bachelor's Degree
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 11% (for environmental scientists and specialists) 4% (for occupational health and safety specialists) 13% (for health educators and community health workers)
Mean Annual Salary (2015)* $73,930 (for environmental scientists and specialists) $71,790 (for occupational health and safety specialists) $56,690 (for health educators)

'Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Environmental Health Specialist

Environmental health specialists conduct tests and experiments to identify and measure levels of chemicals, pollutants and other potentially hazardous materials in an environment. This may involve the collection and analysis of air, water, soil and other samples for purposes of counter-terrorism, health policy, food protection, wildlife protection or many other sectors of environmental health. A bachelor's degree in environmental science, biology, chemistry or geology may qualify applicants to become environmental health officers, though some positions may require a master's or doctoral degree.

The BLS indicated that in May 2015, the state government was the largest employer of other management, scientific, and technical consulting services . The mean annual salary for environmental health specialists in 2015 was $73,930, as reported by the BLS, and careers in this field are expected to increase by 11% between 2014 and 2024.

Occupational Health & Safety Managers

Occupational health and safety managers work with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in order to keep a close watch on employer compliance with employee safety policies. In collaboration with health administration teams, these community health workers are involved with the removal of harmful biological or chemical agents. These managers provide guidance and advisement in coming up with ways to meet OSHA regulations and control potentially dangerous situations or items. A bachelor's degree and knowledge of specific occupational hazards, laws and regulations is required of professionals holding this job.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), reports that in 2014, 29% of occupational health and safety specialists were employed by government agencies and the rest were scattered among private companies. In 2015, the BLS reported the mean annual salary for this profession to be $71,790 and job growth is predicted to be slower than average for all occupations with an increase of only 4% between 2014 and 2024.

Health Educator

Health educators provide information to community members regarding general healthcare, disease prevention and wellness as well as other health concerns particular to a community. Programming may cover such topics as sexual health, diet and exercise, child vaccinations or the benefits of early health screenings. Depending on the type of health education position, regular duties may include writing and designing media, giving lessons or presentations, organizing events, planning curricula, conducting research or working on legislation.

Health educator positions are available in schools and universities, non-profit organizations, medical centers, community health centers as well as local and state departments. A bachelor's degree is generally required for entry into this field of work, though master's degrees may be required for more advanced positions. According to the BLS, employment opportunities for health educators and community health workers were expected to increase by 13% between 2014-2024, due in part to the rising cost of healthcare. Also according to the BLS, the mean annual salary for health educators in May 2015 was $56,690.

A community health major can lead to a career as an environmental health officer, health and safety manager, or health educator, all of which involve eliminating or managing environmental, workplace or community health and safety risks. From 2014-2024, the job growth projected for environmental health officers and health educators is 11% and 13% respectively, which is faster than average when compared to all occupations. The job growth expected for health and safety managers will be 4%, which is slower than average, for the same time period.

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