Public Health Director education requirements

How to Become a Public Health Director (Online!)

People who work in public health are often motivated by big challenges. Public health professionals tackle time-sensitive and life-threatening problems that most of us would rather not worry about, and they do it on a day-to-day basis. Epidemics and diseases, injustice in the health system, water contamination, and sewage systems are just a few areas that a public health professional might be working in.

As you can see, a career in public health is built on interest to help entire populations improve their well-being. Since humans are continuously being affected by their built and natural environments, and by one another, there are multiple pathways for working in public health. Those who wish to focus on a specific area may decide to become an epidemiologist, a biostatistician, a sanitarian, or a disaster and emergency specialist. For students with a strong managerial drive and an urge to address public health generally for a particular geographic region, becoming a Public Health Director might be a fulfilling choice. Learn more about how to become a Public Health Director, online and in as few as 16 months!

What does a Public Health Director do?

The Public Health Director’s job involves coordination between all of the stakeholders involved in supplying health and programs to people. A Public Health Director leads and evaluates initiatives, engenders policy action, and sees that studies and reporting are carried out. Also, the Public Health Director is responsible for:

  • Creating and managing the budget.
  • Advocating for all programs and responses undertaken by the organization.
  • Complying with local, state, and federal health laws and policies.
  • Leading and motivating personnel at all levels of the organization.
  • Maintaining a dialogue with governing boards, and public or private community partners.
  • Being a public mouthpiece.
  • Acknowledging the needs of diverse cultures within the community.

A Public Health Director most typically works for a healthcare center or the government. However, implementing any public health initiative from the director’s office usually requires the collaboration of local municipalities, schools, businesses, utility providers, hospitals, and more. It is impossible to overstate the collaborative nature of the Public Health Director’s job.

What educational requirements are needed to become a Public Health Director? 

Like any director-level job, a mixture of experience and education is required to attain a job as a Public Health Director. Below are the steps one must take to become a Public Health Director.

  1. Complete a graduate education.

master’s degree in public health (MPH) teaches the background and skills that will be expected of you in this career. For entry into a master’s program, as well as for consideration for Public Health Director jobs, it is required that you have achieved a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as public health. Only then can you pursue a graduate level education, which is required for this role.

In an MPH program, core curriculum like Occupational and Environmental Health and Public Health Policy, as well as electives such as US Healthcare Delivery Systems and Public Health Preparedness will enhance your understanding of the relationship between population health and access, policy, planning, and delivery. Your education will help you make informed decisions, which is why public health history, as well as data mapping and computer technology are also included in Goodwin University’s online MPH program.

Becoming a Public Health Director is within your reach, with flexible options available. An online MPH program will enable you to earn your master’s degree in an environment that works for you, while still allowing you to maintain other obligations like work and family. Additionally, you do not need to spend several years earning your master’s or doctorate, as some online MPH programs are offered in an accelerated format. At Goodwin, for example, you can earn your MPH degree – and go on to become a Public Health Director – in as few as 16 months full-time.

  1. Gain experience in the field.

A Public Health Director holds a lot of responsibility within a health organization, such as making important policy decisions that affect lives and livelihoods, and directing how money is used towards certain priorities. To make choices like these, in addition to a master’s degree, Public Health Directors are typically required to have between three and five, sometimes five and ten, years of relevant experience to be considered for the job. In some instances, extra education such as a second master’s degree will count towards those experiential years.

  1. Develop soft skills to succeed.

Some important skills that you’ll want to highlight, which are not directly tied to your education include communication, leadership, and the ability to motive a team. In a leadership role, a successful Public Health Director is enthusiastic, fair, and organized.

Does becoming a Public Health Director require a certification?

Certification is not a requirement for Public Health Directors. However, there is a certification available that many aspiring Public Health Directors elect to take because it helps to distinguish oneself amongst peers, and underlines one’s commitment to the field. To become a certified public health professional by the National Board of Public Health Examiners, it is recommended that you understand the eligibility, use the Board’s study resources, and apply. Truly a professional development tool, this certification helps you stay up-to-date on best practices, network with people in your field, and potentially increase the likelihood of a promotion or salary increase.

What is the work environment for a Public Health Director?

Most Public Health Directors work in an office environment, whether that is in a hospital, a government building, a doctor’s office, or elsewhere. Public Health Directors are part of the fabric of their community, so you can also expect that off-site meetings, health conferences, engagement with the press, and other events might be part of this people-facing job.

How much does a Public Health Director make?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Health and Wellness Managers make on average, $104,280 annually, as reported for 2020. That is approximately $50 hourly! Pay varies depending on the industry. For instance, the government sector offers the highest pay of all industries, at $116,380 annually. Closely following, the hospital sector pays $112,870 annually. Outpatient care centers pay $100,690 while working for a physician’s office would pay $94,880. Acting as a Public Health Director in a nursing or residential care facility will still make you $89,880.

Is the Public Health Director job in demand?

Indeed! The medical and public health field is growing at an unmatched rate amongst all industries nationwide. Medical and health service manager employment is projected to grow at 32% between 2019-29, in comparison with the 4% rate that the rest of U.S. employment is growing.

It might be surprising, but your Public Health Director career path can start online. With a flexible class schedule that helps you align your education with your life, what’s stopping you? Learn more about Goodwin University today by visiting us online, or calling 800-889-3282.