Agile Work

agile work v,

to bring together people, processes, connectivity and technology in order to find the most appropriate and effective way of carrying out a particular task; used here to denote the adaptability of public health professionals in working in partnership and applying their expertise in different areas or fields

How do you start working in Public Health?

Where do I start?

Many people who approach me about working in public health are doing a Bachelor's degree in science, nursing, social science or health sciences or have been working as a clinician and are interested in focusing on people rather than individuals and in improving population health.  The best way to see if this is the job for you is to contact someone who is working in public health and ask to speak with them or ask them if you can shadow their work for a day.   

In the UK, you can do this by contacting your local public health team in your local authority or council.   You can do this by searching on the internet for your local authority and their director of public health, or looking for someone on LinkedIn.   Teams in local authority do the upstream work (i.e. health improvement, reducing health inequalities and some  health protection and healthcare).  This is a very good place to start to see some of the breadth and type of work that public health specialist teams do. 

After shadowing, you may want to do some work experience with the public health team for a week or a day or two a week over a period of time.  This is something you would approach the team about and it is subject to what the organisation can accommodate.    

Alternatively,  you could contact your local Health Education England Public Health Department for more information on working in public health.  

Do I need a Masters in Public Health? 

A Masters in Public Health (MPH or MSc in Public Health) is beneficial, desirable even but not essential. There are many managers working in public health that don't have a MPH but to further your career in public health, it is good to pursue a masters degree but it doesn't have to be public health, it can be in a related area that will benefit your career progression. 

Doing a MPH is expensive and it is worth noting that having a MPH in the UK does not entitle you to register as a public health practitioner or specialist.  MPH is considered a 'show how' of the training or portfolio route and only covers some of the competencies you would need to do to become a practitioner or specialist.  

Some people will enter public health management and then as part of their personal development plan (PDP) or continuing professional development (CPD), they will apply to do a MPH, which may get funded by the organisation you work in.  

True that many applications will have MPH down under qualifications, but getting shortlisted is more than qualifications, it is demonstration of skills, application of knowledge and above all, a passion to do the job in question.

What about the apprenticeship route to Public Health? 

In September 2019, the Level 6 Public Health Practitioner Apprenticeship scheme was approved for delivery in England.  The first cohort of apprentices started in January 2021 and will complete their End Point Assessment by December 2023. 

This apprenticeship provides work-based training and learning, allowing apprentices to learn by doing the job, as well as gaining a bachelor’s degree in Public Health. The Public Health Apprenticeship has been aligned to the Practitioner Standards 2nd Ed, therefore, on completion of the apprenticeship one is eligible to apply to register as a Public Health Practitioner with UKPHR (UK Public Health Register). 

For more information, see UKPHR's Apprenticeship Guidance for UKPHR Practitioner Registration and Level 6 Public Health Practitioner Apprenticeship

What about the Graduate Management Scheme? 

The NHS Graduate Management Scheme and the National Graduate Development Programme often have public health placements as part of their training.  The former is available in NHS organisations including NHS England and integrated care systems whilst the latter involves training within local authorities.  Both schemes are really good for gaining experience in and understanding of working in public services.   Just experience is a really good stepping stone to furthering your public health career. 


Are there any useful websites I could look at?

PH SPOT | Helping public health professionals build their dream careers

Top Public Health Blogs (

Where are the public health jobs advertised?

Posts in public health management in the UK tend to be advertised on NHSJobs, HealthJobsUK and on relevant local authority sites (for local public health teams).

Publichealthjobs  have posts advertised in a wide range of fields. See Twitter or on their website.

Are there any recruitment or information events?


Public health introductory events will be posted on the NHS England Public Health Recruitment Hub webpage: