Although there is no national-level credential for public health, there are certifications and credentials associated with specific career paths. Attaining a specialized public health credential helps a professional stay at the forefront of their field. A credential indicates that a professional understands the various components of public health and has mastered the core skills of his or her field of expertise. It also demonstrates a commitment to a career in public health and distinguishes the certificate holder from other public health professionals.
These are some of the public health certificate programs currently available.
- Certified in Public Health (CPH): According to the National Board of Public Health Examiners, the CPH credential is the only voluntary credential that certifies public health professionals for core skills and knowledge. One of the goals of the CPH is to elevate the professional status of public health workers with advanced degrees to the same level as other health professionals. Established in 2008, the CPH credential is currently held by more than 2,300 individuals. The credential requires a Master’s in Public Health degree or higher and successful completion of the CPH exam.
- Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES): The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) offers CHES credentialing as an indication of professional competency for health education professionals. The voluntary CHES professional credentialing program was established in 1996; it provides a national standard for health education practitioners. The Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES) certification, which is also offered by NCHEC, indicates advanced-level professional competency in the field of health education. In addition to passing a certification exam, CHES certification requires a bachelor’s degree or higher in a major related to health education. MCHES certification requires a master’s degree or a minimum of five years of CHES certification.
- Registered Environmental Health Specialist/Registered Sanitarian (REHS/RS): The National Environmental Health Association offers several environmental health certifications. The REHS/RS is a general environmental health certification that requires a bachelor’s degree or higher in environmental health and completion of a certification exam.
- Certified Public Health Administrator (CPHA): Public health administrators who provide evidence of competency in public health administration and practice can receive CPHA certification from the Public Health Practitioner Certification Board (PHPCB). The organization also offers the Certified Emergency Response Coordinator (CERC) certification for individuals who demonstrate competency in public health practice, emergency preparedness and response, infectious disease, epidemiology and environmental health.
In addition to these and other public health credentials, some schools with MPH programs offer public health certificate programs. These programs typically focus on a subset of the same content offered in the masters program. An example of a public health certificate programs is the Certificate in Core Public Health Concepts that is available through the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Public Health. This 15-credit-hour program of study is designed to educate public health practitioners and is delivered via the Internet.
The Global Health Institute (GHI) is a public health institute that is supported by the collaborative efforts of the University of Arizona and partner organizations. GHI offers a 12-credit-hour Graduate Certificate in Global Health and Development that is also delivered entirely online. The program is designed for health professionals who want to update their skills as well as those who are passionate about global health but are lacking in formal academic training.