African-American healthcare professional

How to Become a Public Healthcare Consultant

Duties, Responsibilities, Schooling, Requirements, Certifications, Job Outlook, and Salary

African-American healthcare professional

Public health programs and organizations do a lot of good for many people by improving access to care and educating the general public on how to live healthier, more gratifying lives. And because so many public health initiatives are project-based, there’s an ongoing need for specialized, experienced experts like public healthcare consultants, who help provide the direction and strategy needed to accomplish these large-scale projects.

If you’re craving a career with lots of flexibility and autonomy, where you can be your own boss and take on the projects that interest you the most, becoming a public healthcare consultant could be the career path for you! You’ll have the chance to work with different people and organizations in a variety of locations—and you’ll earn a great living at the same time! In fact, we recently featured public healthcare consultants on our list of the highest-paying public health jobs in 2021.

This career guide will teach you everything you need to know about becoming a public healthcare consultant, including the educational requirements, necessary certifications, and some of the daily responsibilities you can expect on the job. You may also be pleasantly surprised at how long it takes to become a public healthcare consultant—it’s a career that’s achievable in less time than you might think!

Not sure if becoming a public healthcare consultant is the right career path for you? Click here to see our full list of the highest-paying public health jobs.

Public Healthcare Consultant Definition

What is a Public Healthcare Consultant?

Public healthcare consultants are self-employed subject matter experts who usually specialize in a particular area of public health. They work with a wide variety of organizations like government agencies, healthcare organizations, and health-focused nonprofits to address specific public-health problems and develop more effective programs, policies, and procedures.

Public Healthcare Consultant: Job Description

What Does a Public Healthcare Consultant Do?

Public healthcare consulting is an extremely flexible career, and daily duties may vary significantly between different specializations or even different projects. Overall, public healthcare consultants are depended upon as experts in their field, and their big-picture goal is to help create more effective public health programs and policies for the organizations that employ them. That could mean researching unmet healthcare needs among a specific group, re-evaluating how public health workers are trained, or developing entirely new programs or PSA campaigns to promote healthier communities.

Public Healthcare Consultant Duties

Some of the day-to-day responsibilities of public healthcare consultants include:

  • Assessing public health issues and determining the needs of affected populations
  • Researching the effectiveness of existing public health programs
  • Working with clients to develop new health initiatives and education programs
  • Training clinic staff, volunteers, and other healthcare workers
  • Networking and connecting with potential clients to secure work on future projects

Woman holding blocks with medical symbols

Public Healthcare Consultant Skills

Like any other self-employed entrepreneur, public healthcare consultants keep themselves motivated and on track with project deadlines and acquiring new business. Being your own boss is great, but it also means you’re the one responsible for everything from billing and invoicing to negotiating pay rates. Leadership and organizational skills are also crucial for public healthcare consultants. After all, your clients will expect you to take charge immediately when they bring in an outside expert to help implement major initiatives. Finally, interpersonal skills are necessary to succeed as a public healthcare consultant. Networking is an integral part of the job, and you’ll tend to get most of your business through referrals from former clients with whom you’ve established a great working relationship.

Where Do Public Healthcare Consultants Work?

Public healthcare consultants can have a large pool of potential clients to choose from, depending on their area of expertise. Public healthcare consultants can find jobs working with hospitals, community or government organizations, health insurance companies, and a variety of other private businesses. Public healthcare consultants can usually set their own schedules, though your clients are likely to conduct much of their business during standard 9-5 business hours. Travel is common for public healthcare consultants, who will often need to meet their clients in the field to conduct research, lead training sessions, or otherwise collaborate.

Public Healthcare Consultant Schooling & Certification

How Long Does It Take to Become a Public Healthcare Consultant?

What Degree Do You Need to Be a Public Healthcare Consultant?

Since public healthcare consultants play a significant role in crafting health policies for businesses and governments, it’s a career that requires earning a bachelor’s degree at minimum. While traditional bachelor’s degree programs require a full four years in school, some accelerated degree programs can be completed in just two and a half years. In addition, some colleges offer bachelor’s degree programs focused specifically on public health, though studying public health as an undergrad is not necessarily the only path to a career as a public healthcare consultant. Other healthcare programs or even degrees in other subjects like social sciences or humanities can also prepare you for a career in public health, especially if you plan to pursue a postsecondary degree.

The highest-paid public healthcare consultants also frequently earn a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree, which often provides more opportunities for advancement into higher-level positions. Many master’s degree programs require another two to three years in school, but just like your bachelor’s degree, you can finish your MPH degree much faster with an accelerated degree program. Some MPH programs can even be completed entirely online in as few as 63 weeks!

Like any other long-term goal, becoming a public healthcare consultant can be broken down into a series of smaller steps, which can keep you on track and make the final outcome feel much more attainable.

Aerial view of students at a table

Here’s a step-by-step guide to the education, experience, and certifications you’ll need to become a public healthcare consultant:

1. Enroll in a Healthcare-Focused Bachelor’s Degree Program

The first step in your public healthcare consultant training is enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program from an accredited college or university. For a future career as a public healthcare consultant, you may want to consider a B.S. program focused on public health, or on related fields like a Bachelor of Science in Health & Wellness or a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration. Earning your bachelor’s degree is a major accomplishment that requires buckling down for a couple of years, but it’s a goal that’s achievable for just about anyone willing to put in the work. For example, to enroll in any of the healthcare bachelor’s degree programs at Brookline College, all you’ll need is a high school diploma or GED, plus a passing score on a Scholastic Level Exam and a computer literacy exam.

2. Earn Your Bachelor of Science Degree

Before you can successfully market yourself as a public healthcare consultant, you’ll need to gain a fundamental knowledge of human health issues and learn how to become a great leader, organizer, and communicator. That means earning a healthcare-focused bachelor’s degree can give you a major head start over other degree programs as you work toward a career as a public healthcare consultant.

Like any bachelor’s degree program, you should expect to study a number of general-education subjects like math, literature, statistics, psychology, and communications. There’s a reason these types of classes are required of all bachelor’s degree students—they’ll make you a more well-rounded person and professional and help you discover new interests and talents.

To succeed as a public healthcare consultant, you’ll need plenty of contextual knowledge about human health and behavior, as well as how healthcare facilities and programs work in the real world. Any bachelor’s degree program with a concentration in healthcare will likely include courses in everything from kinesiology to psychology to courses focused on health education and healthcare administration. Other classes will teach you leadership and management principles and how to use data and statistics in the context of public health issues. All these skills are vital for public healthcare consultants, who must be competent leaders and strategists as well as effective researchers and project planners.

3. Earn Your Master of Public Health (MPH) Degree

While earning a bachelor’s degree will make it possible to land some entry-level public health jobs, earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree is all but required for people who want to become public healthcare consultants. An MPH program is where you’ll polish the advanced leadership, data analysis, and communication skills you’ll need to tackle big-picture health challenges as an outside consultant to your clients.

Your public health master’s program will build upon your bachelor’s degree with courses like epidemiology and biostatistics, as well as courses that will teach you about environmental and occupational health, clinical effectiveness, and how to analyze and improve public health systems and policies.

At the end of your MPH program, you’ll need to complete a capstone course where you’ll apply the statistical methods you’ve learned to some aspect of public health. This capstone will demonstrate your ability to analyze the kind of data that public healthcare consultants use to develop more effective health policies and procedures.

Health professional giving a lecture

4. Get Certified By the National Board of Public Health Examiners

While public healthcare consultants aren’t necessarily required to be licensed, earning your Certified Public Health credential from the NBPHE will almost certainly raise your profile with potential clients. A CPH credential is the most common certification for public healthcare consultants, and shows your commitment to staying at the forefront of public health knowledge.

The CPH exam is made up of 200 multiple-choice questions over a maximum of four hours, though many people complete the exam in less time. The NBPHE provides a number of convenient CPH exam study resources, which can help you feel more confident and prepared when test day arrives. You should be well-prepared after your MPH program, however—according to the NBPHE, over 85% of people pass the CPH exam.

Public Healthcare Consultant Salary

How Much Do Public Healthcare Consultants Make?

Like other consulting careers, public healthcare consultant salaries can vary from year to year. Your annual income will depend on the amount of work you take on and the rates you negotiate with your clients. However, public healthcare consultants are highly-trained health experts, and their salaries reflect that! According to, public healthcare consultants bring home an average annual salary* of nearly $83,000, which works out to almost $40 per hour. Public health consultants among the top 25% of earners earn over $100,000 per year, and salaries in the 90th percentile can reach $117,000 and up.

Public Healthcare Consultant Job Outlook

What is the Job Outlook for Public Healthcare Consultants?

Experienced public health professionals are projected to remain in-demand within many different industries and organizations, from private businesses to government-run health offices. While the BLS doesn’t provide detailed workforce estimates specifically for public healthcare consultants, the overall employment of medical and health science managers (a closely related field) is projected to increase 32% by the year 2030. That’s several times higher than the average 8% growth rate for all jobs across all industries, which should be quite encouraging for anyone thinking about becoming a public healthcare consultant.

Medical professionals shaking hands

Ready to Start Your Career as a Public Healthcare Consultant?

If you’re an entrepreneurial spirit that’s always known you’re destined to be your own boss, becoming a public healthcare consultant could be the perfect career path for you. Not only will you have all the autonomy and freedom of working for yourself, you’ll get to help people, organizations, and entire communities become healthier—and you’ll earn a great living at the same time!

Ready to start your journey toward a long and rewarding career as a public healthcare consultant? Click here to learn more about the MPH program at Brookline College, and start taking steps to achieve your new career in public health today!