Public health lab practitioners study disease, make diagnoses and treat illness by utilizing laboratory methods. There are many specialists within this field, including biochemists, microbiologists and bacteriologists. They work closely within their communities to identify threats to public health and safety ranging from natural disasters to acts of terrorism.
Public health lab practitioners must obtain a master’s degree from an accredited school of public health. According to ExploreHealthCareers.org, all students seeking their Master of Public Health (MPH) degree are required to take a specialized course in Health Services Administration, Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Environmental Health or Behavioral Sciences and Health Education. Ideally, individuals seeking a career as public health lab practitioners are precise, have an interest in science, perform well in a team and have excellent problem-solving skills.
Generally state-run, public health laboratories provide a variety of important health services to the general population. Depending on their area of expertise, lab technicians will perform a number of services, including:
According to ExploreHealthCareers.org, a public health lab practitioner typically earns between $31,500 and $78,750 annually. Public health lab practitioners are in high demand, so the employment outlook for this occupation is excellent, though many labs have experienced budget cuts from government funding, resulting in layoffs.