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What Is a Global Health Professional?

April 14, 2024

Quality health care should not have borders. While healthcare organizations around the globe work to improve access to quality care, global health professionals work to bring together national and international efforts to address health inequity. Interested healthcare professionals would do well to explore the definition of global health, the many roles in the field, and the educational path to see if it is the right fit for their career.

Understanding Global Health

Reducing and eventually eliminating the inequitable division of health care across borders is one of the main goals of the global health field. The importance of a global healthcare response is highlighted by certain circumstances; during global pandemics, for example, like COVID-19. Such a response is also essential for creating a more equitable global health community. 

Some areas in which prospective global health professionals may focus include the following.

  • Chronic disease
  • Communicable disease
  • Mental health
  • Climate change
  • Nutrition
  • Maternal and child health

While these are some key areas of focus, there are many more that global health professionals can specialize in. Professionals may research areas of inequality across international communities and seek various solutions. These solutions may include policies, programs, and hands-on services that can reduce healthcare inequity and offer services to communities that need them most.

Global Health vs. Public Health

There are many overlapping approaches and goals between global health and public health. Both promote health equity and positive solutions to population-level health issues. They seek ways to improve overall health care at the population level, rather than only in specific communities.

The fields differ, however, in their area of focus. Public health expands community health care to a broader population level, but it stays within the borders of a particular region or nation. Global health expands the approach to seek solutions that cross borders, such as responding to and mitigating international crises, advocating large-scale health care, and assisting with global disease prevention.

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Types of Global Health Professionals

Because global health is a broad field, it offers many potential career paths. Global health professionals promote health equity by working across the following fields.

  • Health care
  • Economics
  • Biological sciences
  • Social work
  • Biostatistics
  • Management

Prospective practitioners should explore the following types of global health professionals to identify the best path forward for their career journey.


Global health epidemiologists plan studies, design surveys, and initiate investigations into communicable diseases and related epidemiological issues. They work not only to improve health equity, but also to inform policymakers on key findings related to health outcomes and prevention strategies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for epidemiologists was $78,520 as of May 2022.

Health Education Specialist

Informing individuals, organizations, and governments about wellness programs and health equity is a full-time job. Health education specialists design health promotion information for community-specific issues, educate organizations about the benefits of wellness programs, and work with governments to determine health education policy. As of May 2022, the median annual wage for these professionals was $59,990 according to BLS data.

Public Health Advisor

Public health advisors oversee activities and recommend new initiatives to organizations, institutions, and governments with the goal of improving global health equity. Public health advisors also regularly communicate with relevant policymakers and regulatory bodies to share research findings and help guide policy in the public health sector. Public health advisors earned a median salary of approximately $64,070 as of October 2023, according to the compensation website Payscale.


Some physicians in the global health field work directly with communities to improve health equity. Others guide organizations and governments in best-practice solutions to promote health equity. Physicians can also research systematic strategies to address barriers to health equity. For physicians and surgeons, BLS data found the median annual wage was $229,300 as of May 2022.

Relevant Skills for a Global Health Professional

As a diverse group who work across the globe, global health professionals understandably need a range of skills. Here are some relevant competencies to be successful in a global health career.

  • Interpersonal skills: Global health workers need to communicate clearly with other team members, patients, clients, and stakeholders in global health initiatives.
  • Flexibility: Because of the broad range of crises that professionals research in the field of global health, daily tasks can vary considerably depending on the particular issue of focus.
  • Analytical skills: Professionals need to analyze information from across multiple disciplines and make sense of population-level data to make decisions.
  • Teamwork: Global health goals are accomplished by teams that collaborate, not by individuals. Teamwork is at the core of developing and implementing global health initiatives.

Prepare for a Career in Global Health

Are you ready to promote health equity across the globe? Consider a career as a global health professional and assist in expanding public health policy across national borders. To gain hands-on experience to turn your passion into your life’s work, enroll in the Tulane University Online Master of Public Health (MPH) program. In this MPH degree program, you can learn to analyze public health data and collaborate with award-winning faculty to advance your career.

Learn more about how you can promote health equity through transformational solutions.

Advance Your Public Health Career with an MPH Program

Pursue Your Degree Online From Tulane University
Find Out More

Recommended Readings

How Do Viruses Mutate, and What Is the Role of Epidemiology?

Black Maternal Health in the U.S.

Community Health Promotion in Rural Areas


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Jobs and Opportunities

Fogarty International Center, Global Health Careers

Forbes, “What Is Global Health? 12 Careers in Global Health to Consider”

Indeed, “19 Global Health Degree Jobs (Plus Duties and Average Salary)”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Epidemiologists

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Health Education Specialists

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Health and Safety Specialists

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Physicians and Surgeons

ZipRecruiter, Global Health Jobs – What Are They and How to Get One