Job Profile: Community Health Director

Community health directors stand proudly at the forefront of the public health field to make critical decisions related to healthcare services of certain communities. Community health directors strive to keep citizens healthy by staying on the lookout for new public health threats arising within their city, county, or region. Directors develop and implement plans for new community-based health education programs aimed at preventing disease and promoting healthier, more active lifestyles. Community health directors apply for grant funding to pioneer health initiatives and make positive policy changes that boost the area’s well-being. Most generally work for municipal governments under the direction of a mayor to organize committees tasked with evaluating and resolving public health issues.

Salary

Based on survey data on Salary.com, it’s estimated that the median annual salary for community health directors in the United States is $106,472. This can be equated to a mean hourly wage of $51 and an average weekly income of $2,048. When bonuses, social security, disability, healthcare, and pensions are added to the base salary, community health directors earn an average income of $151,474 annually.

Beginning Salary

When just starting out, community health directors can expect to land in the bottom tenth percentile of earnings with a decent yearly salary of $73,765. However, it’s important to note that senior community health directors with years of experience and major leadership responsibilities often bring home a base salary upwards of $149,269 later in their career.

Key Responsibilities

Community health directors hold significant responsibility in directing health-focused operations for dealing with key issues, such as water quality, obesity, health disparity, disease outbreak, immunization, smoking, patient safety, disaster relief, and more. They’re responsible for devising effective community-based health initiatives that educate local citizens and promote healthy lifestyle choices across the community. On a typical day, community health directors may be involved in writing grant proposals, assessing the community’s needs, developing health education programs, training community health workers, supervising staff, allocating public health funding resources, analyzing data, and drafting health policy changes. Community health directors wear many hats and oversee all aspects of protecting their community’s well-being.

Necessary Skills

Being successful as a community health director will require that you fine-tune your problem-solving skills for creating innovative solutions to the region’s toughest health concerns. Having good organizational skills with a key attention to detail is essential for orchestrating every little aspect of community health initiatives, including budgeting and scheduling. Community health directors must be skilled communicators with the interpersonal and leadership abilities needed to supervise various health professionals. Analytical skills will help community health directors understand current health regulations and find ways to make better policies. Community health directors should also be equipped with quick decision-making and critical thinking skills.

Degree and Education Requirements

Due to the hefty duties placed on their shoulders, community health directors typically must hold at least a master’s degree from an accredited graduate school. Most aspiring community health directors choose to obtain their Master of Public Health (MPH) with a concentration in community health, health management, or another discipline. Obtaining a Master of Health Administration (MHA) or MBA in Healthcare could also be advantageous for developing the managerial acumen necessary to direct complex public health programs. Going the extra step to earn a doctoral degree in community health education or public health could facilitate faster promotion. Some top-level directors have medical degrees and are licensed physicians too.

Pros and Cons of the Position

Working as a community health director is intrinsically rewarding because you’re constantly in the thick of discussion on making the world a healthier, safer place to live. Of course, the financial rewards are tremendous as they typically cross into the six-figure ballpark and provide excellent benefits. Since job growth is expected to be positive, future community health directors can breathe a sigh of relief that there will be positions available. Interacting with physicians, healthcare professionals, government officials, researchers, and other experts is ideal for the extroverted. On the flip side, community health directors typically work very long weeks at an average of 60 hours. Some become overwhelmed with the pressure of designing new health initiatives or responding to community crises. Community health directors must also invest their money into a graduate-level degree and continue their education regularly.

Getting Started

While earning your master’s degree, it’s important that you develop your resume with real-world experience in the administrative side of public health. Most accredited graduate schools will mandate you send one semester or a full year working full-time in a community health agency under supervision. Take this opportunity to get your feet wet and network with public health managers or community health directors in your local region. You’ll have to first work in community health education, public health, healthcare, or a related area before being promoted. The majority of director of community health jobs require candidates have 10 or more years of experience in the healthcare services field. You may want to consider pursuing professional credentials as Certified in Public Health (CPH) or Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES).

Future Outlook

In a world plagued with obesity, terrorism, epidemics, cancer, natural disasters, and mental health crises, community health has come to the forefront of the public eye. Our society’s focus has shifted to preventive healthcare in an effort to boost well-being, which poses well for new community health directors. It’s predicted that the demand for community health directors will continue growing to guide people on the best decisions for their health. The BLS reports that the overall employment of health directors and managers will skyrocket faster than average at 23 percent before 2022. However, job competition will continue to be heated since there are a limited number of community health director openings. Community health directors can find positions in hospitals, government agencies, non-profit organizations, health research firms, and other public health settings.

Although physicians and nurses actually deliver individual healthcare services, community health directors play an essential role behind the scenes to safeguard the public’s health from various different threats on a grander scale. Community health directors have an upper-level, non-clinical administrative position for coordinating initiatives that market the best lifestyle habits for living a healthy, happy life. If you make the decision to become a community health director, you’ll have the rewarding chance to spearhead the improvement of a region’s health outcomes.