Competencies for Public Health Workers: A Collection of Competency Sets for Public Health-Related Occupations and Professions

The Public Health Practice Program Office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (www.phppo.cdc.gov/OWPP) developed this table of competency sets of public health-related occupations and professions for its Annual Public Health Workforce Development Meeting (June 2001, revised January 2003).


The competency sets are intended to be a resource for persons interested in public health workforce development. It includes online sources for all documents listed. The information listed can be used as an aid to curriculum developers and instructional designers in planning training programs for the Nation's public health workers. This resource document also provides relevant examples of competency statements from other occupations and professions that share in the work of public health. Used as a starting point, this list may help avoid duplication of efforts and will build on existing activities across the U.S.


This report on competency sets was developed using print and electronic references and experts in workforce development. Sources included: Council on Linkages, Core Competencies (Public Health Foundation), and competency sets from other professions, United Kingdom, Australia and other countries. Other sources also used were Institute of Medicine Reports: The Future of Public Health, 1988, 2002; Who Will Keep the Public Healthy: Educating Public Health Professionals for the 21st Century (2003, The National Academies Press, Washington, DC); and Public Health in America, 1994 (http://www.health.gov/phfunctions/public.htm). Where competencies sets are lacking, selected resources are listed if appropriate.

Ms. Kimberley Geissman, M.S., M.Ed., and Dr. Anil Patel, M.D., M.P.H. conducted the primary research.

The Competency Sets

The competency sets can be grouped and differentiated several ways:

• Core: Basic Public Health Skills (skills needed to perform the essential functions of public health)

• Function-specific: e.g., leadership, management, supervisory, support staff

• Discipline-specific: e.g., community dentistry for public health dentists, other professionals or technical specialists

• Subject-specific (within a discipline): maternal and child health, STD, vaccine preventable diseases, cancer, other chronic diseases

• Workplace basics: required of all personnel and includes literacy, writing and presentation skills and computer literacy


The competencies listed are those known at the time of printing. The comprehensive search for related public health worker competencies included numerous global and site-specific web searches, list-serve queries, and personal contacts. Since the field of workforce development is evolving, many competency sets—be they produced by government, academic institutions, public health and professional organizations—are in development. Therefore, this list may not contain all available competency sets. Inclusion of any competency set in the table does not imply CDC endorsement.

How You Can Help

Please notify the CDC Office of Workforce Policy and Planning (PHPPO) of major omissions, corrections, and additions to this document, "A Collection of Competency Sets of Public Health-Related Occupations and Professions," updated for the Public Health Workforce Development Annual Meeting, January 21-23, 2003, Atlanta, GA, through our web site at www.phppo.cdc.gov/owpp or call 770 488 2480 (main office).

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