Public Health Director  What They Do

Just the Facts


Insider Info

dotPublic health directors are on the lookout for new diseases in their community.

They are in charge of the health of their city, county or region. That means they keep track of illnesses such as meningitis. They make sure drinking water is safe. They monitor coliform (a type of bacteria) counts at the beach. And they give assistance during disasters.

"We deal with patient safety, water quality, disaster relief, immunization, outbreaks of disease and research," says Stephen Gleason. He is a public health director in Iowa.

dotTheir job isn't to actually give vaccinations or test the water. They oversee the operations, organize committees, direct health programs and evaluate current health and social services projects in the city.

dotPublic health directors work in offices. They are hired by the municipal government. In the U.S., public health directors generally work under the direction of the mayor.

The average workweek for a public health director can be long. "We work 60 hours a week," says Gleason.

Public health directors generally work in an office. But some travel may be required. According to Gleason, a physically challenged person would be able to do this work.

At a Glance

Keep your community healthy

  • Deal with water quality, outbreaks of disease and more
  • The average workweek is long
  • Public health directors have university degrees related to public health