Behavioral Science / Health Education

Behavioral Science / Health Education

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Behavioral Science/Health Education Job Description


Individuals who choose to pursue a career in behavioral science or health education aim to serve the public by encouraging others to make healthy choices in their lives, develop programs for the protection of the public, and research disease prevention. They work in collaboration with policymakers, educators, and other health care professionals in an effort to encourage healthier lifestyles and a more productive public life.

Public health professionals must earn a bachelor's degree in fields such as behavioral science, health education, anthropology, or psychology, and many go on to pursue a master's or doctoral degree in public health.




The responsibilities of a behavioral scientist or public health professional vary from workplace to workplace. Their overall concern is generally to protect the public and improve health in a broad sense by researching areas like disease prevention or harmful behaviors, and designing plans to educate the public and attack the issue. A solid knowledge of marketing techniques can also go a long way in spreading important information to the public.

Behavioral Scientists also work to develop and implement public policies in areas like mental health, energy, conservation, and substance abuse and work as consultants with corporations and government entities. Other responsibilities these professionals take on include improving the quality of life of seniors, preventing STDs, and reducing and preventing obesity. 




Candidates needs to aim for a well-rounded approach to developing their skill set, as behavioral science majors and health educators most often find themselves needed social work and counseling, as well as business acumen, to be the most successful within the field. 

Communications and marketing can also both be important for success as many who go into public health find themselves planning and developing campaigns to spread awareness about topics of interest to the public.


Working Conditions


The professional settings for a public health professional varies to a great extent. Schools, hospitals, community shelter homes, residential health care facilities and clinics are just some common examples of their work places. They are known to engage in health care awareness programs in rural and remote areas on a regular basis.

This is one of the few areas of study in which the student can gear their experience and specialty toward a certain goal and find employment in almost any setting.




Hospitals; state, local, and private 21%
Ambulatory health care services 17%
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 11%
Social science 11%



How to Become a Public Health Professional:


1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)


A concentrated study in behavioral science or public health consists of coursework that includes health education and behavior change, health promotion and disease prevention, mental health, social research, health system strengthening, and maternal and child health. Other areas focus on ethics, medical terminology, statistics, and public policy.


 The preparation timeline below outlines suggested courses for Public Health Professionals:


Grade Level Example Courses

Freshman Year


  • General Chemistry I & Lab
  • Biology I & Lab
  • College Algebra & Statistics
  • Public Health I
  • English 101
  • English 102
  • Humanities Requirement
  • Social Science Requirement

Sophomore Year

  • Chemistry I & Lab
  • Emergency Medical Response
  • Public Health II
  • Public Health III
  • Physics I
  • Humanities Requirement
  • Social Science Requirement

Junior Year


  • Biology II & Lab
  • Public Health IV
  • Physics II
  • Humanities Requirement
  • Social Science Requirement
  • Elective Requirements

Senior Year

  • Microbiology & Lab
  • Public Health V
  • Capstone
  • Remaining Electives


A list of accredited schools and programs can be found in the website of Council on Education for Public Health or the Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health (ASPPH).


2. Gain Relevant Experience


A great way to get your foot in the door in any profession is to take on and complete an internship. Both paid and unpaid internships are available, but both are highly competitive. Seek to maintain a high GPA (3.5+) for the best chance of securing one.

Look for positions that will build your management skills as you'll often be tasked with overseeing teams and projects throughout your career. Both private and public sector public health positions can be found in government, hospitals, and corporations in almost any city. As with anything, the more experience you have, the better your prospects will be, so start gaining experience in the field as soon as possible.


3. Earn a Graduate Degree (2 - 4 Years)


While only a bachelor's degree is required for entry into the field, further education will always be more desirable to employers. Pursuing a post-baccalaureate degree can open doors and put your prospects way ahead of the competition, but it's advised the have ample relevant experience in the field to back up your schooling for the most successful outcome.

Graduate students most often pursue specializations in public health administration, health care finance, or public health law to make the jump from one level of employment to the next.


Salary Outlook