Self-Employment is Possible in Public Health!

career development consulting entrepreneur Nov 21, 2023

I never coin myself to be someone to “think outside of the box”. I am very much the analytical type that does many things “by the book” – which I think is one of my weakest points when trying to construct interventions for big public health problems.


As I think about the typical “by the book” methods to entering the public health workforce I think of 1) getting an education, 2) job search, 3) joining a public health agency/university/becoming a contractor, 4) continuing education and repeat from #2. I RARELY think about the entrepreneurial role and the services that an independent contractor can provide.

Sujani Sivanantharajah, the Founder of PH SPOT, a career development platform for public health practitioners around the world, shared a PDF of a study that described the self-employed public health consultant and entrepreneur workforce in the U.S. The PDF highlighted what’s motivating people to leave the traditional public health workforce, salaries, who’s hiring public health practitioners, and more. If you’re interested in being an independent consultant and going the entrepreneur path, then pay attention because this blog is for you.

Most Common Services

After having chosen the right business venture and legal structure, think about what you’re good at and the services you could provide. Did you know that the most common services that independent consultants provide are:

  • Training and Capacity Building
  • Meeting Planning and/or Facilitation
  • Program Design, Planning, and Implementation
  • Program Evaluation
  • Scientific Writing
  • Data Analysis

Another path is to follow in the footsteps of Public Health Hired CEO, Zoila Reyna, in providing created products like online courses, downloadable documents built from your expertise with content of interest to your clientele, templates, and more.

Who's Hiring?

Now that we’ve identified some common services to stack your checks, where should you focus your efforts and services? Who’s going to hire you? Did you know that nonprofit organizations hire independent consultants 2x more than government agencies do? This is a quick reminder that although working with big government agencies at the federal, state, or local level may seem sexy, it’s not the only route! I encourage you to search for nonprofit organizations or academic institutions that align with your public health interests and make your passion meet your paycheck!

Why Make The Shift?

How can we sweeten the pot of possibilities more? As many of you navigate the job search in our post-pandemic reality, I’m sure you’re seeing several remote work opportunities. The Self-Employed Public Health Consultant and Entrepreneur Workforce in the United States study that Sujani, mentioned above, states that consultants usually make up a 50/50 split of being part time or full time. Additionally, the same study highlighted that the top four motivators for leaving the traditional public health workforce are:

  1. Opportunity to choose topics or projects of interests.
    • This is why seeking to collaborate with a nonprofit organization of your interest is important.
  2. Option for more flexible work hours
    • As an independent consultant you are more easily able to manage work-life balance
  3. Autonomy to create own work environment & processes.
    • This is an opportunity to not only think critically but put your specific education into practice
  4. Option to work remotely
    • While remote work may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the benefits for flexibility to work from anywhere can be helpful if you have a family, are a caregiver, or simply like working from a beach ;)

These are just a few aspects to consider if you’re interested in becoming a public health entrepreneur. The world of public health small but has an astoundingly large reach! Check out some of our entrepreneur coaches like Quisha Umembra  and Dr. Charlotte Hughes Huntley to start thinking outside of the box about public health! As always, check out our Instagram and the HIRED blog for more insights about the public health workforce and many other interesting topics!


Public Health Hired Contributor: Adam is our new Senior Community Engagement Specialist at Public Health Hired and a Doctor of Public Health candidate at Georgia State University.

He has a background in health policy and work experience in global health. Throughout his career, he has collaborated with Ministries of Health, National Institutes of Health, and other public health agencies in over 20 countries across Latin America, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and insular areas in the Pacific on public health program delivery and capacity building. He is currently working as a contract Public Health Analyst at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention focused on policy analysis and partnerships to improve our nation's heart health and increase health equity. Connect with Adam on LinkedIn

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