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How to Get a Job with the Public Health Service

Updated on May 21, 2013

The Public Health Service (PHS) of the United States is the agency that oversees the smaller divisions of the U.S Health and Human Services Department. You’re probably familiar with some of the more popular divisions, including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but the Public Health Service contains more than a dozen agencies that might interest you if you’re trying to get a job in public health.

Get a Job at the FDA (Food and Drug Administration)

The Food and Drug Administration is always looking for workers to fill science and medical positions. The FDA actively recruits new workers from nation-wide job fairs and high school career days. If you get a job at the FDA, you could be working in Veterinary Medicine, Drug Evaluation, Tobacco Research or Toxicology. Visit the online FDA Virtual Hiring Resource Center for information about how you can get a job working in this cutting-edge health field.

If you’re still in college, you can apply for a Public Health Service FDA Internship or Fellowship that will offer credits toward your degree while paying you a small amount of money. This hands-on learning atmosphere not only advances your knowledge, it puts you at the head of the list when applying for a job with the FDA.

CDC: "Touching Lives"

Get a Job at the CDC (Centers for Disease Control)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention works tirelessly to identify health risks to the citizens of the United States and to implement health policies that will protect lives. Getting a job at the CDC offers plenty of excitement, including working in chemical and biological terrorism units to ensure public safety. This Public Health Service agency covers a vast range of career choices, from preventing diseases, to studying workplace safety, child protection, drug overdose prevention and emergency preparedness. If you work at the CDC, you’ll be dedicating your career to the improved health and safety of Americans, and as a result, people worldwide will benefit from your service.

Fill out an online application, set up an interview and find out more about how to get a job with the CDC. Like the FDA, the CDC recruits through job fairs and virtual hiring events.

Focus on a career of helping the elderly and those who cannot help themselves.
Focus on a career of helping the elderly and those who cannot help themselves.

Get a Job at the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services)

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services was born out of a need to combine the two biggest federal health services together in the 1970s. This vital Public Health Service agency provides health coverage for over 100 million Americans who are older or destitute. As the population of the United States ages, more workers will be needed to handle the influx of new cases and greater need. If you get a job with the CMS, you might be working to devise policies that protect our older and most vulnerable citizens or you could be a vital part of overseeing the insurance industry. If you’re good with numbers, the CMS could use your talent in Research, Statistics and Data Systems. The CMS offers positions to the public as well as to present and former federal employees. The CMS website offer a job search engine for locating career openings near you.

Find a rewarding career working with Native Americans to improve health and opportunities.
Find a rewarding career working with Native Americans to improve health and opportunities.

Get a Job at the IHS (Indian Health Service)

The Indian Health Service is a federal Public Health Service agency that offers health and environmental services to more than 500 recognized Native American Indians tribes living in the United States. Very few careers are as rewarding as those where you can work one-on-one with people to improve their lives. If you get a job with the IHS, you could be working as a physician’s assistant in a medical office that provides care to Native Americans, or you could help develop plans and policies to benefit Indian health, lifestyle and career outlook.

The IHS offers student loan repayment programs of up to $20,000 per year for medical and nursing students who commit to working with American Indians and Alaskan Indians for a minimum of two years. In addition, you may get a sign-on bonus up to $30,000, 30 days paid vacation and a nice benefits package.

Get a Job at the NIH (National Institutes of Health)

The National Institutes of Health is the United States leading medical research division. This Public Health Service agency is a massive conglomerate of medical scientists and researchers who work tirelessly to discover new and better medications and treatments that will cure diseases and save lives worldwide. A rewarding career in the NIH includes hands-on laboratory research, data and statistical analysis of diseases and their patterns and the study of rare and potentially deadly diseases.

If you get a job at the NIH, you could be working in administration, as student intern, or in a clinical lab. Unlike many federal agencies, non-citizens programs exist to hire workers from other countries. During the application process, you will complete a KSA statement that details your Knowledge, Skills and Abilities in order to match you to the position best suited for your talents.

Help the youngest and most vulnerable victims of substance abuse.
Help the youngest and most vulnerable victims of substance abuse.

Get a Job at the SAMHSA

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is the branch of the Public Health Service agency that works to prevent substance abuse and to improve the lives of those suffering from addition or other types of mental illness.

If you get a job with SAMHSA, you will work in the rewarding field of behavioral health services. SAMHSA’s goal is to reach every American in need of treatment for substance abuse and mental health care. You might work to increase public awareness of addiction or focus on health reform and the rehabilitation of recovering addicts.

Recovery support is a large part of the SAMHSA agency and includes hands-on policymaking and data analysis. The SAMHSA is the agency that works with military families to help family members adapt to returning active service personnel. They also provide suicide prevention, mental health treatment and act as advocates for child and student rights when it comes to health issues.

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