101 Careers in Public Health`In this weekly feature, the editors of SpringBoard highlight one career in the health care professions–including a basic description, educational requirements, core competencies/key skills needed, and related web sites and professional organizations where you can find more information!


The title “public health advisor” originally belonged to a team of CDC field workers with basic public health training who went out into local communities to identify and treat patients with STIs. The program later expanded to include TB control and many other issues. Today, public health advisors often come to the job through an extensive training fellowship. They are closely involved in program design and implementation, providing efficient response to public health needs. As public health advisors rise through the ranks, they gain more responsibility and may eventually manage large programs. Some public health advisors are stationed at federal agency headquarters; others are assigned to locations around the country or overseas, where they assist with local public health efforts. Public health advisors are also found at other agencies and in other areas of public health. There are public health advisors working in disaster preparedness, nutrition, mental health, and many other areas of disease prevention and health promotion.

Education and Certification:

  • A CDC public health advisor needs at least a bachelor’s degree.
  • One way to become eligible for a public health advisor job is to complete the CDC’s Public Health Apprentice Program (PHAP) or Public Health Prevention Service (PHPS).
  • PHAP is a 2-year fellowship in which recent college graduates are assigned to train at state and local health agencies.
  • PHPS is a 3-year fellowship for master’s level public health professionals. Higher-level jobs require appropriate experience.

Core Competencies and Skills:

  •  Adaptability
  • Initiative
  • Good communication skills
  • Knack for evaluating situations and determining what is needed
  • Ability to apply research findings to practice
  • Ability to make decisions independently, but also to collaborate with a team
  • Strong understanding of the elements of public health practice, including the use of epidemiologic data, disease surveillance and control, and program design, implementation, and evaluation


Public health advisors at the CDC start in the $50,000s to $60,000s, with adjustments for location. Experienced advisors with significant responsibility can reach $100,000, and there are senior-level positions with higher salaries.


Public health advisors have an important role at the CDC. There are also public health advisors at other federal agencies, including other departments within HHS and USAID. Some state and local agencies have similar job titles.

Employment Outlook:

Public health advisors are well prepared for a wide range of public health activities. There are many opportunities for advancement, and the skills gained through this job tend to be in demand at state and local agencies and nonprofit organizations, as well.

For Further Information: