How To Get a Certificate in Public Health in 7 Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published March 17, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Public health is a large industry with a variety of careers you can take that may improve the health conditions in your area. Obtaining a certificate in public health can help provide you with more information about the topic and may improve your chances of getting a job in the industry. If you're interested in getting a public health certificate, understanding the requirements and basic steps may help you complete a program. In this article, we discuss what a certificate in public health is, some main types and how to get your own certificate.

What is a certificate in public health?

A certificate in public health is a professional credential that demonstrates that you understand particular concepts related to the field of public health. They often require you to take additional classes or pass an official assessment to complete the certificate. Obtaining a certificate in public health can show fellow professionals and potential employers that you're qualified to work in a public health job.

Related: What is Public Health? Education and Career Options

Types of certificates and certifications

There are three distinct types of certificates and certifications related to public health:

Credential certifications

Credential certifications are programs created by organizations or private companies that teach skills relevant to a particular field or practice within the public health industry. They often require you to apply, take a series of courses, then take an assessment at the end. Completing these certifications demonstrates that you're knowledgeable about the public health topic that the certification covers.

Certificates of completion

A certificate of completion is a qualification usually given to you by a college or other educational institution to demonstrate your knowledge of public health. Unlike the other two types of certificates, a certificate of completion doesn't require you to take additional courses. You can receive this type of certificate after you complete a public health degree, although you may also need to take a test to confirm you possess relevant public health knowledge.

Graduate certificate programs

Graduate certificate programs are certificate courses from colleges or universities that possess a Master's in Public Health program. These courses teach advanced public health concepts and may focus on a particular specialty or job field. They're primarily meant for candidates with prior public health experience or certificates and usually take a year or less to complete.

What are the benefits of earning a certificate in public health?

Here are a few benefits of earning a public health certificate:

Money

Obtaining a certificate can show a potential employer that you're knowledgeable in that certificate's subject matter. This can help you differentiate yourself from other candidates and may help you get hired. If you get hired, the additional qualification may allow you to negotiate for more money based on your expertise.

Related: 17 Highest Paid Jobs in Public Health

Specialization

Public health is a large industry with multiple types of jobs that you can perform. Many certificates in public health feature a particular specialty. Learning about this specialty can help you gain specific knowledge about a certain area of public health. It can also prepare you for a job within that specialty.

Related: What Can You Do With a Public Health Degree?

Expertise

Taking a certificate course can help you learn valuable information about a particular public health topic or job field. They often teach about advanced topics, new scientific advances in the industry and potentially first aid or medical techniques. This information can increase your overall public health knowledge and may allow you to better understand concepts related to your desired public health occupation.

How to get a certificate in public health

These are some steps you can take to receive a certificate in public health:

1. Research potential certificates

There are multiple different public health certificates that you can take, each with its own subject matter and level of prestige. They may also have different requirements and teach different material. Understanding what program you want to participate in can help you know what education or work requirements you may need to qualify for the course. Consider researching the topics, course requirements, length of course and price of certificate programs in which you have interest.

2. Get a college degree

Although the various certificate programs all have different requirements, most of them need you to complete at least a bachelor's degree. While it's not required, most people who take certificate programs choose public health or a related topic for their major. This is because certificates often ask for additional requirements, such as work experience in a public health field or a statement of purpose, for people with majors not related to public health.

Related: What Can You Do With a B.A. in Public Heath?

3. Gain work experience

If your major isn't a health degree, a certificate program may ask you to perform a set amount of years as a public health professional. The amount of work you need to complete can vary by the level of the course. Consider either finding a public health job or applying for an internship to help you gain experience in the field. Even if you choose a public health major, earning job experience in the field may strengthen your application and can increase your chances of getting into a certificate program.

4. Apply for a certificate

When you've finished your college degree and work experience, you can apply for the certificate course of your choice. Applying usually requires you to fill out an application form and some programs also need additional information in order to accept you. Common aspects of an application include letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, your resume or CV and official transcripts.

5. Complete courses

Most certificate programs offer a series of courses that you take to learn about their particular public health focus. These classes are usually hosted online and may have flexible hours for you to take them. You can research in advance how many classes each certificate program takes and their available class formats. To complete certification, you usually need to pass these courses.

6. Take certificate assessment

After you complete your required courses, you may need to take a test or assessment to prove that you understand the core competencies that the certificate teaches. Most of these tests are multiple-choice and available online through the specific program, though the length can vary by the particular certificate. If you pass this test, you qualify for that certificate program.

7. Apply for advanced certificate

Some certification courses may require you to complete a different public health certificate before applying for the program. These certificates usually contain more advanced topics and classes. If you decide to take one of these advanced courses, you can apply for a program after you complete your first certificate in public health.

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