Public Health Online Resource for Careers, Skills and Training

Home  »  Careers, roles and job requirements  »  Areas of Public Health Practice

Areas of Public Health Practice

Two women cycling in parkPublic health is an exciting profession that offers numerous options for pursuing a career.

To help you understand the range of activities performed by workers in public health, we have described below six key areas of public health skill and knowledge that many public health jobs require. (There are, in fact, nine areas of public health skills and knowledge.)

Most public health roles require skills and knowledge in more than one of these areas, but by reading about the different areas of skill and knowledge required you will gain an impression of whether there are certain aspects of public health work that appeal to you more strongly than others.

To work out where to start, think about what you are interested in, what you’ve enjoyed learning about and what you would like to learn about. If you see an area of public health that interests you, click on it to read more detailed information. Later, you can search for more information about the various roles available in your preferred area.


Six Key Areas of Public Health Practice

I am interested in / I have enjoyed learning about

Area of Practice in Public Health

Improving people’s health

I am interested in working actively to improve people’s health and wellbeing. This can involve working with individuals to give advice about healthy changes to their lifestyle (such as healthy eating or regular exercise) or with communities and the media to promote health campaigns (such as safer sex) or to advocate changes to public policy.

I have enjoyed learning about education, sociology, psychology, marketing, communications, anthropology


Health Improvement


Protecting people's health

I am interested in protecting people's health. This can involve promoting safety in the workplace (such as fire safety or the safe handling of goods) or the safety of the wider population (such as ensuring the safety of food, or protecting people from infectious diseases and environmental hazards, like noise, chemicals or radiation).

I have enjoyed learning about biology, chemistry, epidemiology, environmental health, infectious diseases, laboratory techniques, health screening, emergency response, engineering


Health Protection


Working with information

I am interested in collecting, understanding, explaining, and communicating information about health. This information can be about the general health and wellbeing of the whole population, or about the health risks and health needs of a particular social group (such as an age group or an ethnic group).

I have enjoyed learning about maths, statistics, epidemiology, basic sciences, computer sciences, database management


Public Health Intelligence


Teaching and researching

I am interested in investigating public health issues or teaching about public health. This can involve teaching about public health in a university or college, or setting up research projects to investigate specific public health issues (such as obesity, hospital cleanliness, climate change), and publishing the results.

I have enjoyed learning about education, research methods, epidemiology, evidence based policy and practice, monitoring and evaluation


Academic Public Health


Maintaining and raising standards

I am interested in raising the standard of health and care services provided to the public, and in making sure that these services are safe, effective, efficient and accessible by all. This might include developing specifications and setting priorities for others to provide particular services, as well as commissioning services.

I have enjoyed learning about business, economics, public policy, project management, clinical governance, service audit and quality.


Health and Social Care Quality


Leadership, planning and management

I am interested in leading work to improve the health and wellbeing of the population, in developing initial policy, the strategies to put the plans into action, overseeing implementation and in measuring the impact that policies and strategies have on the quality of health and wellbeing services and the outcomes for individuals and communities.

I have enjoyed learning about public policy, health services management, health scrutiny.


Strategy and Policy



If you would like to see more roles in any of these areas, do a role search or a career story search in that particular area of public health.

Go to role search   |  Go to career story search



You may also wish to look at the Faculty of Public Health website for more information about training and working as a specialist in public health. For further information on Specialty Training, see the PHORCaST pages on Training Schemes and on regulation and qualification for Non-medical Public Health Specialists.


Back to top