How to Become a Public Health Nurse

Written by

Beatrice Harrison


August 14, 2014


Public health nurses are registered nurses (RNs) that advocate and teach public health policies and guidelines. To become a public health nurse and earn a typical salary, some training is recommended. Follow this guide to becoming a public health nurse and compare on-campus and online nursing degree programs.

Public health is an essential discipline that focuses on preventing infections and diseases, promoting overall health and wellness, and prolonging life among a variety of populations. Public health nurses are registered nurses that focus on the health of populations.

What does a public health nurse do?

Public health nurses are committed to enhancing the overall health and well-being of a variety of communities. They are responsible for planning and employing health programs and educating groups and individuals about health issues such as preventative care, infection and disease prevention, immunizations, childcare, and nutrition. Public health nurses often set up blood pressure and cholesterol testing sites, immunization clinics, and other clinics for health screenings. They are also responsible for identifying the common health issues in communities and developing effective intervention programs.

What kind of training does a public health nurse need?

Public health nurses must become registered nurses by completing a diploma, associate degree, or bachelor degree from an accredited nursing program. Many employers prefer applicants that have a bachelor degree in nursing. Aspiring public health nurses typically complete courses in environmental health, biostatistics, epidemiology, public health practices, and infectious diseases. All states require registered nurses to be licensed. Licensing requirements include completion of an approved nursing program and passing a national examination.

Many public health nurses gain professional certification from the American Public Health Association (APHA). Public health nurses must complete annual continuing education courses to maintain their licenses and certifications, keep their skills up to date, and stay abreast on advancements in the field. Many employers offer continuing education courses, seminars, and conferences.

What are the prospects for a career as a public health nurse?

Employment of all registered nurses is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 23% through 2016. The growing and aging population and increased emphasis on public health will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be excellent especially for public health nurses with extensive experience and professional certification. Many job openings will arise from the need to replace public health nurses that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do public health nurses make?

As of 2015, public health nurses with less than 1 year experience earn average hourly rates between $12.64 and $23.40. Those with 1 to 4 years experience earn average hourly rates between $18.21 and $26.93.

A career as a public health nurse is an excellent choice for individuals that have a strong interest in public health and promoting the overall health and wellness of a variety of communities. Public health nurses must have a solid understanding of public health practices and policies and apply them to a variety of situations. Motivation, patience, critical thinking, and good problem solving skills are desirable characteristics. Public health nurses must also have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and ability to interact with the public and other professionals.

Becoming a Public Health Nurse Requires Skills & Training Start Today

Are you serious about becoming a Public Health Nurse? Then you need to get the required skills and training to do it! To start your new career, first you must decide what school you want to enroll in, so you need to gather info about potential schools. Use the  College Mouse Degree Search tool  to find the right course and college for you, and get started towards your new dream job today! If you want more personalized assistance, call (888) 389-7996 TOLL FREE to speak with a college advisor, who will help you find the best college for you. After you sign up for your course, make sure you fill out and submit the FAFSA so you can take advantage of any financial aid currently available to you!

Also, check out our list of the 10 top nursing schools & best nursing colleges. If you already have a nursing degree, find out what to do with a nursing degree and what kind of jobs you can get after you’ve graduated from nursing school. Check out our list of the best paying nursing jobs if you’re still not sure you want to be a nurse!


Written by:  Beatrice Harrison

Educated at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Beatrice Harrison has extensive professional experience in career counseling, having helped a growing number of job seekers find fulfilling and meaningful careers in a variety of fields and disciplines.

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