Global health professionals may study HIV, malaria, cholera, and other large-scale epidemics, as well as vaccines, treatments, and other ways to mitigate their spread. Others collaborate with national and community leaders, governmental agencies, relief organizations, and other groups in order to promote medical awareness and healthy living. Regardless of specific day-to-day duties, every job within the global health sector is concentrated in data-driven research and educational outreach.

Since just about any kind of public health professional can do their work on a global scale, there are no reliable salary averages for this position. Please refer to our other career pages to compare the salary ranges of different types of public health officials.

Getting Started

Working in Global Health


Most individuals who study global health at the collegiate level are master’s students enrolled at a school of public health. According to the Association of Schools & Programs on Public Health (ASPPH), there are 85 accredited colleges and universities in the United States with graduate-level public health institutions. Although some schools (such as Johns Hopkins University and Emory University) offer degrees in international health, a general Master of Science in Public Health degree ― supplemented with a specialization pertaining to global health ― will qualify graduates for most entry-level positions within this sector.

Work Experience notes that field experience ― particularly time spent overseas ― is crucial for securing long-term employment within the global health sector. Unfortunately, even entry-level positions are highly competitive. One alternative option is volunteer service. Organizations like the American Red Cross and the Peace Corps frequently “hire” volunteers with little more than a college degree to fill positions focused on health and medicine, and many NGOs operating in foreign countries offer internships and other opportunities for aspiring global health professionals.


Although there are certainly exceptions, most men and women hoping to pursue a lifelong career in global health will need to earn a minimum of a master’s degree in international or public health. Taking the Foreign Service Exam, which involves a comprehensive written test and several interviews, is one way to effectively supplement an advanced degree. Those who wish to pursue certain areas of global health, such as epidemiology or tropical disease specialization, may be required to earn a medical degree as well. Virtually everyone who works in public health overseas must be certified in CPR, first aid, and other medical response procedures.


HIV/AIDS Research Associate

These specialists work closely with HIV/AIDS studies participants and head researchers to ensure research findings and participant information are properly recorded and filed.

Main Responsibilities

  • Oversee initial interviews, community education, risk reduction counseling, and obtaining consent of all study participants.
  • Perform administrative and laboratory assistance tasks such as maintaining participant contacts and taking and preparing blood samples

Additional Requirements

While a degree is not always required for employment in this specialization, it is important that those pursuing this field have experience in researching and working closely with diverse groups. A certificate in phlebotomy may also be required, and those with a working knowledge of another language are highly desirable to HIV/AIDS research.

International NGO Aid Worker

Working for non-governmental organizations, these individuals are first responders during times of crisis, and they bring relief in the form of food, medical supplies, and emotional support to places ravaged by war, natural disaster, and other developmental issues.

Main Responsibilities

  • Work in frontline settings to administer aid as it adheres to safety and health regulations
  • Create programs to respond to emergencies while managing budgets and coordinating with local staff and volunteers

Additional Requirements

Employment in this field is highly competitive. Those with advanced degrees in languages, medicine, or other public health related areas, who also have extensive experience volunteering for aid NGOs are most sought after.

Global Infectious Disease Analyst

These individuals collect, interpret, and analyze epidemiological data and research to trace disease outbreaks around the world.

Main Responsibilities

  • Monitor publications from public and global health organizations, as well as local governments and media outlets, for occurrences of infectious disease outbreaks
  • Compile findings into graphics, tables, and databases that accurately report the severity of the outbreaks and can be used by epidemiologists

Additional Requirements

A master’s degree in tropical medicine, global or public health, or a related field is often required for employment in this area. Those proficient in a language other than English and knowledgeable of global geography are highly desired for analyst positions.


  • Johns Hopkins University Summer Internship Program (SIP)

    This research-based internship is geared toward students from low-income families and/or underrepresented minority groups. Interns will learn protocols for data collection and analysis, as well as standards and ethics of public health. The internship may take place on the JHU campus, or at other establishments within the city of Baltimore.

    Eligibility: All applicants must be legal U.S. citizens; academic requirements vary based on the internship site (typically, at least one to two years at an accredited school is required).

    Terms of Service: 10 weeks

    Deadline: February

  • Summer Program in Environmental Health (SPEH)

    Interns participating in this 10-week CDC program work closely with the Environmental Health Services branch to observe scientists and senior researchers in assignments based in a number of cities.

    Eligibility: Full-time environmental health undergraduates enrolled in their junior or senior years. Graduate students may also apply.

    Terms of Service: Interns are designated a CDC guest researcher role. You are responsible for travel and housing costs for the 10-week internship period.

    Deadline: February, annual

  • ASPPH Headquarters Internship Program

    These 10-week career experiences are based in Washington DC, giving students experience with data research, marketing, and communications.

    Eligibility: Current graduate students attending a college that is accredited by CEPH and a member of ASPPH.

    Terms of Service: Students must be able to commit at least 10 weeks to the internship and relocate to Washington DC during this period.

    Deadline: March 20th, annually