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How do I Become a Public Health Professor?

A public health professor is someone who teaches at the college or university level and has experience in the public health sector. Public health is a specialized area of health care that looks specifically at how certain diseases or illnesses and other issues can impact the community at large. These specialists work in public facilities ranging from government agencies to homeless shelters, and some work as clinics that assist those without health insurance. Before you can teach students about public health, you need to gain some experience in that field for yourself.

Finish Your Education

You probably know that you need a college degree to work as a professor, but you may not know that the type of degree you need depends on where you want to teach. Community colleges offer programs that let students earn an associate’s degree before transferring to another school or going to work. If you want to teach at this level, you generally need a master’s degree and a few years of experience. A Master of Public Health, or MPH degree, may qualify you to teach at a community college. Four-year colleges usually require that professors have a doctoral or terminal degree. You may gain work as a part-time professor or adjunct professor at one of these schools with a master’s degree and some public health experience.

Publish Your Work

Most professors working at colleges today want to start out on the tenure track. When you get tenure, the school cannot fire you and will give you more freedom to teach the type of classes you want. As competition for tenure positions is fierce, you need to learn how to stand out among other professors. An easy way to do this is with independent research. Doing your own research and publishing your work in professional journals will show colleges that you are serious about your work. Your research may even lead to new funding for the school.

Become an Expert

When most graduates think back to their college days, they remember their experienced professors more than they remember their academic professors. Academic professors are those who focus more on earning degrees than they do practical experience. They recite facts and information, but they rarely offer any insight or information beyond what is already available in your textbooks. Becoming a public health expert lets you give your students the knowledge they really need and the information they can actually use in their own careers. Before applying for a public health professor job, gain as much experience as you can working for major public health departments and organizations.

Look to the Future

Though you may love the idea of teaching students, it’s important that you think about the future and your chances of finding one of these jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage among college professors is around $70,000 a year. The BLS also sees a high need for qualified college professors in the future. You may find that you can earn more money working at a government job or that you have a better chance of moving into a higher paying position working for a public health facility.

College professors learn more about the topics that interest them. To become a public health professor, you will need to gain practical experience, go to college and publish your work.