dreamstimesmall_36726430Career pathways within health promotion – some examples

Acknowledgments are given to Judy White, Senior Lecturer in Health Promotion, Leeds Metropolitan University and to the individuals concerned for permission to include the following cameos. They give an impression of how individuals came into health promotion and their progression. They include examples of experience at all three levels of the public health workforce.

To see current opportunities within health promotion, please visit our news page and select ‘Jobs’ from the categories listed in the righthand column.


Example 1: Team Co-ordinator for a Big Lottery Health and Well-Being Project

  • Volunteer work for a respite care for the disabled charity during A-Levels
  • BSc (Hon) Food & Nutrition – during which I was inspired by public health and health promotion, I realised this was the career path I wanted to take
  • Worked as a care assistant in a nursing home during and immediately after University
  • Worked as a special needs assistant in a special needs school for 6 months
  • At this point felt frustrated as was unsure as to how to get into health promotion – worked at Yorkshire Building Society for 6 months.
  • Got my break when I was offered a job as a Community Health Project Coordinator for a Health Action Zone funded project in a community centre – Salary was only £11,000 so they were not looking for someone with lots of experience.
  • During my 2.5 years in this role I completed my Pg Dip in Health Promotion and had 4 months out maternity leave.
  • Next I got a job as a Community Health Improvement Worker with a Big Lottery Funded Healthy Living Project – I was in this post for almost 4 years during which I had 6 months out on maternity leave.
  • Following this I took a job as a Stop Smoking Specialist for 18 months
  • I am currently the Team Coordinator (managing 6 staff) of a Big Lottery Project working with Older People to improve Healthy Eating, Physical Activity and Mental Wellbeing via a community development approach to create health champions.
  • It has taken me 10 years from leaving university to get to my current position, the last 5.5 of those has been within the NHS.



Example 2: Senior Lecturer in Health Promotion, Regional Lead for Health Trainers

  • Voluntary work as an undergraduate – practical help for vulnerable families and elderly people
  • 10 years working in the voluntary and community sector – in youth and community and coordinating/development roles. Helped set up a community health project, was active on Community Health Council
  • Completed a first degree in social policy
  • Did an M.Sc in Health Studies
  • Got a job as a Health Promotion Specialist in a Health Promotion Unit – worked on a wide variety of topics and undertook various roles over next 10 years (had 15months maternity leave, and worked part time for most of the 10 years). Studied for an M.Sc in Health Promotion.
  • Became a team leader, still leading on an area of work, but also managing a small team of 6 staff. Did this for 9 years, part time.
  • Became assistant head of the district health promotion service, did this full time for 4 years.
  • Left the NHS to work as a university lecturer, teaching health promotion, part time. Also working part time as lead of a regional health promotion programme.


Example 3: Deputy Director of Public Health in a PCT 

  • Degree in biochemistry and physiology.
  • Decided I didn’t want to teach…..or work in a lab….or be a scientist.
  • Got a job as a ‘graduate trainee’ (think free labour – dole + £15 per week) in a midwifery department.
  • Led some research around smoking behaviour in pregnancy. Worked on the baby friendly initiative.
  • Got a job as a health promotion specialist with responsibility for healthy workplaces.
  • Simultaneously started the MSc in Health Promotion / Health Education at LMU
  • Various health promotion specialist roles over the next 4 years.
  • Broadened my remit to work as a public health programme coordinator. Same kind of tasks – broader than just health promotion.
  • A year sabbatical in Australia. A range of work around primary care development and evidence based medicine.
  • Joined the Public Health Specialists training scheme. 3 years training, wide range of work in a number of locations.
  • Appointed as consultant in public health / Deputy Director of Public Health in a PCT.


Example 4: Public Health Manager in Obesity Team in a PCT

  • Began my academic career as an engineer, studying at BTEC National and HND
  • Supported my student years with various jobs in the fitness industry from pool attendant to gym instructor
  • Left University and drifted into leisure management at a variety of local authority and commercial posts
  • Helped to develop one of the earliest exercise referral schemes with between the local authority and District Health Promotion Unit
  • Employed by Health Promotion Service to develop a new exercise referral scheme
  • Began studies in MSc Health Promotion and developed a wider work remit as Physical Activity Development Coordinator
  • Finished PGDip Health Promotion and was seconded to work on land mine awareness campaigns and maternal health programmes in refugee camps in the Balkans during the Kosovo conflict.
  • Currently a manager in Obesity Prevention Team managing a variety of people and programmes.


Example 5: Public Health Programme Trainee

  • Undertook Registered General Nurse Training
  • First nursing post on a medical ward in London
  • Moved into Accident & Emergency Nursing (A/E), undertook several A/E courses, and completed Health Studies degree. Completed Post Graduate Certificate in Education. Taught on national training programmes. Promoted several times, changed departments promoted to Sisters post.
  • Moved to NHS Direct as shift manager
  • Year later became practice development manager. Undertook Masters in Health Care Ethics at Leeds
  • Given post as Lead Nurse for NHS Direct West Yorkshire ( hosted by West Yorkshire Ambulance Service)
  • Acted up as West Yorkshire General Manager for NHS Direct. Undertook 2 year Nursing Leadership Programme with the Kings Fund as part of this visited Cuba observed how Public Health initiatives could be developed with few resources.
  • Following reorganisation became Regional Director for Nursing NHS Direct, Yorkshire & North East
  • Moved to Health Trainer Programme Manager for North East Lincolnshire Care Trust Plus & 1 day per week for North Lincolnshire NHS Trust. Started Masters in Public Health Course.
  • All of the above posts have had an element of Health Promotion within them, whether giving direct patient care or encouraging others to promote health as part of their role.
  • In September 2010 started on the Public Health Training Programme at Leeds University.


Example 6: Regional Public Health Manager

  • Degree in Planning & Administration/Home economics ( which included a Health Education component)
  • Post graduate diploma in Health Education
  • Became a trainee health promotion officer – worked on a wide variety of topics for 1year
  • Became a health promotion officer with a remit for maternal & child health & BME communities
  • Became a deputy district health promotion manager with additional responsibility for a team of 20 staff for 2 years
  • Became manager of the District Health Promotion Service and did this for 6 years. Managed a service of 44 people
  • Became a health promotion commissioner for 2years
  • Took a 5 year NHS Career break and decided not to return to work
  • Took a Part/time research contract in the voluntary sector – working on domestic violence which led to further consultancy contracts
  • Appointed as a non executive director of my local primary care trust and reappointed following merger of PCTs
  • Certificate & Diploma in coaching
  • Coaching and consultancy for 2 years – contracts with the LA and voluntary sector
  • Managed a health promotion programme in a PCT for 3 years on a self employed consultancy basis
  • Employed by the SHA on a 5 year job share contact- Also working part time on a Regional Health Promotion Programme and continuing to work as a Non Executive Director of a PCT