There are many professions within the field of public health. Common jobs include nutritionists, health educators, or health service managers. Earning a public health certificate online is a good way to start a career within one of those positions, as the certificate teaches students how to develop programs to meet public health concerns. In addition, public health students learn the skills that they need to communicate with patients, conduct health-related research, and learn about the diseases and illnesses that communities face. While enrolled, they will take classes in epidemiology, food safety, and illnesses as well.
Types of Public Health Certificates
At the vocational level, public health certificate programs offer a foundation in the field. They qualify students for basic entry-level positions in community outreach and health education. To help students understand public health, programs include classes like public health foundations, environmental health, ethics, and biostatistics. Students will also take a few general classes in organizational behavior and communication, which will make them more marketable candidates for employment. Before they can earn a certificate, however, students typically need to apply with the following:
- High school diploma or equivalent.
- College entrance exams.
Most course work will involve reading and research. Some may request that students gain experience through work or internships. However, students should be able to submit all course work over the Internet by using an online portal. In total, it should take around six months to a year for students to complete the program.
The pre-master’s certificate goes deeper than the bachelor’s degree in public health. It examines health policy, risk, and statistics, to help students transition from undergraduate study to graduate-level research. Students typically enroll to stay current on issues in public health or to gain promotions within their careers. Some also use the certificate to help them gain admission into master’s degree programs. Before gaining admission, students usually need to apply with the following, although application requirements may vary:
- Bachelor’s degree in a health field.
- GPA of at least 2.0.
- Passing SAT scores.
Once enrolled, students will take classes like biostatistical methods, health behavior, and health policy and management. They will study the trends of illnesses that affect communities, like HIV and the flu, and determine ways to increase public awareness. The program should take around a year to complete, depending on how many classes students take each term.
The highest certificate a student can earn in the field of public health is a post-graduate certificate. Designed to come after a student earns a graduate degree, this certificate provides deeper study into the individual areas of public health. Students typically can tailor their research interests into an aspect of epidemiology, health behavior, or health education that interests them. They will also gain expert management and communication skills. To apply, many schools require students to have the following:
- Graduate degree in public health.
- GPA of 3.0 or higher.
- Work experience.
- Passing GRE scores.
Throughout the program, students will gather and analyze data, and then write papers over what they find. They will develop programs to promote education and seek to strengthen their policymaking skills. In total, it should take around a year to complete the program, but students who attend on a part-time basis will be enrolled longer.
What’s Next for Certificate Holders?
Upon earning a certificate, students have many career options. Typically, however, the best opportunities are awarded to degree-holders, so students may want to consider eventually pursuing a degree. One common position for specialists in public health is that of a health educator. Health educators are responsible for helping communities make good choices about their lifestyles and habits, which in turn can benefit their wellbeing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), health educators earn around $45,830 annually. Keep in mind, however, that salary figures will vary.
Another possible career is that of a health service manager. These managers are responsible for coordinating services within medical and health departments. The BLS reports that health service managers earn around $98,460 annually, although that can vary as well. The field is growing quickly, which means the job outlook is good, especially for degree-holders.