By Staff Writer
Global health professionals may study HIV, malaria, cholera, and other large-scale epidemics, along with vaccines, treatments, and other ways to mitigate their spread. Others collaborate with national and community leaders, governmental agencies, and relief organizations to promote medical awareness and healthy living. Regardless of their specific day-to-day duties, every job within the global health sector focuses on data-driven research and educational outreach.
Since just about any kind of public health professional can perform 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 public health officials.
- Identify chief medical concerns for the world or within distinct regions, research the origins and effects of each concern, and present findings in formal, written reports.
- Recognize individuals and groups within affected areas with the greatest potential of facilitating widespread change, and then work with these individuals to create community-based action strategies.
- Collaborate with interagency and international counterparts to introduce health education programs for populations of all ages.
Working in Global Health
Global health careers require different education and training based on job responsibilities and expected outcomes. Due to the medical and research nature of the work, many global health jobs require applicants to possess a master's degree or higher. Common degree areas include public health, international relations and global studies, tropical medicine, and environmental health. Common specializations within these include epidemiology, environmental health, or health promotion and communications.
The Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health maintains a membership of 128 schools in seven countries that offer approved public health degrees. Students should consider starting their research by reviewing member schools.
Given the importance of the work, many global health employers seek candidates with relevant professional experience. For those just beginning their careers, finding ways of gaining experience can seem daunting. While in school, internships offer a great first opportunity to get a foot in the door. Many public health programs require a practicum to gain practical knowledge and build professional contacts. A study abroad program can provide the global experience needed.
Volunteering allows individuals to try different areas of the field while networking along the way. Some work-study opportunities may also help build relevant work experience.
An individual hoping to pursue a lifelong career in global health should 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, offers 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, typically must possess a medical degree. Virtually everyone who works in public health overseas must maintain certification in CPR, first aid, and other medical response procedures.
Bachelor's, Master's, or Ph.D.
Areas of Study
Global bioethics, biomedicine and culture, international healthcare delivery
Varies depending on employer and location
Certificate in public health, certificate of global health, certificate in global health nursing
HIV/AIDS Research Associate
These specialists work closely with HIV/AIDS studies participants and head researchers to ensure proper documentation of research findings and participant information.
- Oversee initial interviews, community education, and risk reduction counseling. Obtain consent of all study participants.
- Perform administrative and laboratory assistance tasks, such as maintaining participant contacts and taking and preparing blood samples.
Those pursuing this specialization must have experience researching and working closely with diverse groups. Some programs require candidates to possess certificates in phlebotomy, and those with a working knowledge of another language are highly desirable to HIV/AIDS research.
International NGO Aid Worker
These individuals act as first responders during times of crisis and bring relief through food, medical supplies, and emotional support to places ravaged by war, natural disasters, and other developmental issues.
- Work in frontline settings to administer aid that adheres to safety and health regulations.
- Create programs to respond to emergencies while managing budgets and coordinating with local staff and volunteers.
Employment in this field is highly competitive. Most companies prefer candidates with advanced degrees in languages, medicine, or other public health-related areas, who also possess extensive experience volunteering for aid organizations.
Global Infectious Disease Analyst
These individuals collect, interpret, and analyze epidemiological data to trace disease outbreaks around the world.
- Monitor publications from global health organizations, 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 for epidemiologists.
Candidates typically must possess a master's degree in tropical medicine, global or public health, or a related field for employment in this area. Employers prefer applicants who are proficient in a language other than English and knowledgeable of global geography.
ASPPH/CDC Public Health Fellowship Program
- Eligibility: Individuals who already possess a master's or doctoral degree in public health may apply.
- Terms of Service: Fellows work full time for 12 months in Atlanta, Georgia, at the CDC headquarters. They must pay all relocation fees but receive an annual stipend.
- Deadline: January 27, annual
Doctors Without Borders Internship
- Eligibility: Undergraduate and graduate global health students can participate in internships at the New York City-based offices. They can choose from several focus areas, including public health.
- Terms of Service: Internships last for entire semesters and/or summers and pay $15 per hour.
- Deadline: The organization offers three different internships schedules per year, with applications due in December, April, and August.
Global Health Internship
- Eligibility: The American Public Health Association provides this opportunity to work in its center for professional development. Undergraduate and graduate students should possess at least one year of work experience.
- Terms of Service: The internship takes place in Washington, D.C., lasts one summer, and provides a stipend.
- Deadline: January, annual
Summer Program in Environmental Health
- Eligibility: Full-time environmental health undergraduates enrolled in their junior or senior years, along with graduate students, may 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
Unite for Sight Internship
- Eligibility: This global health internship supports undergraduate and graduate students who want to want to work on the frontlines of patient care.
- Terms of Service: Applicants must commit to at least four full weeks of service, but Unite for Sight prefers 8-10 week internships. This unpaid program takes place in New Haven, Connecticut.
- Deadline: Students can apply year-round.