Public Health Engineering: Definition and Required Skills

Public health engineering is the development of systems, tools and techniques to prevent injuries and sickness using environmental and biological skills and expertise.

What is Public Health??

What does a public health engineer do?

Public health engineers have many responsibilities they perform in their daily work, including:

What is public health engineering?

Public health engineering is the development of systems, tools and techniques to prevent injuries and sickness using environmental and biological skills and expertise. Though they can work for private organizations, public health engineers most often work for government facilities researching and analyzing ways to protect citizens from health crises.

Public health engineering skills

Public health engineers require the use of several skills to fulfill their daily duties:

How to become a public health engineer

Here are five steps you can follow to become a public health engineer:

1. Earn an undergraduate degree

Though you can pursue some entry-level public health engineering positions with a high school diploma, earning a bachelors degree can create more job opportunities for you and show employers youre qualified and educated for the position. Most often, public health engineers earn their degree in environmental engineering with a specialty in public health. However, there are some colleges and universities that offer a degree that strictly focuses its study on the responsibilities of public health engineers.

There are different benefits to pursuing each degree. For example, an environmental engineering degree can allow you the opportunity to apply for public health engineering positions, but can also be a broader area of study that can allow you to pursue other related jobs in the future. However, a degree that totally focuses on public health engineering can show potential employers your dedication and expertise in that field.

2. Gain relevant experience

Either well youre getting your undergraduate degree, or after youve graduated, its important to gain experience that can help build your resume when applying for jobs. Some employers may look for field experience or training that can come in the form of jobs parallel to the public health engineering positions, such as a public health office assistant or clerical worker, or from public health engineering internships.

While studying at a college or university, consider searching for these positions that can offer you helpful knowledge and guidance which can benefit your resume and help your application become more noticeable to future employers.

3. Earn a graduate degree

Though not all of them require it, most states ask that you obtain a graduate degree and education before you can become certified and licensed as a public health engineer. A graduate degree can also help you continue to develop as a public health official and create more job opportunities for you at higher-level positions in a public health department.

The most common graduate degree earned by public health engineers is a masters of science in environmental engineering with a focus on public health. However, students can also study certain specializations that can help them pursue specific roles after graduation. These specializations can include thermodynamics, environmental chemistry, hazard waste sciences and more.

4. Obtain the proper license

Most states require that public health engineers have the proper license to practice their profession. Depending on which state you want to work in, consider researching if they require a license to perform your job responsibilities. For some states, you may need to pass an exam, pay a license fee or fill out proper registration paperwork to get your license and officially start your job.

5. Find the position thats right for you

When youre ready, search for public health engineering positions that can benefit from your experience, skills and education. Most government facilities, whether federal, state or local, have public health departments with many positions available at all experience levels. Otherwise, there are other private industry options, such as assisting in the health and sanitation of a corporate food chain or working with a public health firm to consult with companies and governments on health-related issues.

Also, depending on if you chose a certain specialization in graduate school, your education and experience might be more suitable for specific jobs and positions. For example, if you specialized in the study of water pollution control, consider searching for a public health engineering position in a state or facility near a body of water.

Public health engineering work environment

A public health engineer may perform their responsibilities in the following areas:

Water testing

During their job, public health engineers might visit local beaches, lakes and public swimming pools to examine the water and run tests to see if it is clean or if any chemicals need to be eliminated. They might also check the waters pollution levels and ensure that these areas are maintaining a clean and healthy environment.

Sanitation exams

Public health engineers might also frequently visit restaurants and fast-food chains to determine that they are keeping up with health and safety codes and following sanitary guidelines. If a restaurant has a certain amount of violations, they might request changes to the establishments daily routine or they might recommend that the city or state shut down the restaurant.

Manufacturing sites

In some states and cities, public health engineers may visit manufacturing and construction sites to ensure that any man-made structures or heavy machinery is not damaging the environment through pollution or the release of harmful chemicals.

Public health engineers will determine this by running tests, conducting inspections of the facility or construction site and examining the soil, air and water.

Office analysis

When theyre not in the field conducting tests and experiments, public health engineers might spend their time in the office analyzing lab reports, communicating with government officials or collaborating with other public health engineers to solve safety issues and address public concern. If there were ever an outbreak of a disease or global pandemic, public health engineers might also spend time in their offices interpreting data and collaborating with other health departments to try to control and correct the situation.


What kind of career is public health?

Public health combines many different disciplines and supports occupations in diverse scientific, medical, research, and government settings. Public health jobs especially suit healthcare professionals with passions outside of clinical medicine, such as anthropology, statistics, or epidemiology.

What is global health engineering?

While the field of Global Health seeks to address the drivers and outcomes of well-​being for international populations from a medical or epidemiological perspective, Global Health Engineering addresses determinants of health as a function of engineered interventions and systems.

Can engineers work in healthcare?

In fact, there are multiple times more jobs in chemical, computer, electrical, and mechanical engineering than biomedical in healthcare. The term “healthcare engineer” is thus most appropriate for engineers from all different disciplines working in healthcare.

What do you know about public health?

Public health is defined as the science of protecting the safety and improving the health of communities through education, policy making and research for disease and injury prevention. The definition of public health is different for every person.

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