Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals: Introduction   

The Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals (Core Competencies) are a consensus set of skills for the broad practice of public health, as defined by the 10 Essential Public Health Services. Developed by the Council on Linkages Between Academia and Public Health Practice, the Core Competencies reflect foundational skills desirable for professionals engaging in the practice, education, and research of public health. The Core Competencies support workforce development within public health and can serve as a starting point for public health professionals and organizations as they work to better understand and meet workforce development needs.


Organization of the Core Competencies

The Core Competencies are organized into eight domains, reflecting skill areas within public health, and three tiers, representing career stages for public health professionals.


The Core Competencies are divided into eight domains, or topical areas of knowledge and skill:

  1. Analytical/Assessment Skills
  2. Policy Development/Program Planning Skills
  3. Communication Skills
  4. Cultural Competency Skills
  5. Community Dimensions of Practice Skills
  6. Public Health Sciences Skills
  7. Financial Planning and Management Skills
  8. Leadership and Systems Thinking Skills


  • Tier 1 – Front Line Staff/Entry Level. Tier 1 competencies apply to public health professionals who carry out the day-to-day tasks of public health organizations and are not in management positions. Responsibilities of these professionals may include data collection and analysis, fieldwork, program planning, outreach, communications, customer service, and program support.

  • Tier 2 – Program Management/Supervisory Level. Tier 2 competencies apply to public health professionals in program management or supervisory roles. Responsibilities of these professionals may include developing, implementing, and evaluating programs; supervising staff; establishing and maintaining community partnerships; managing timelines and work plans; making policy recommendations; and providing technical expertise.

  • Tier 3 – Senior Management/Executive Level. Tier 3 competencies apply to public health professionals at a senior management level and to leaders of public health organizations. These professionals typically have staff who report to them and may be responsible for overseeing major programs or operations of the organization, setting a strategy and vision for the organization, creating a culture of quality within the organization, and working with the community to improve health.


The organization of the Core Competencies into three tiers provides guidance in identifying appropriate competencies for public health professionals. In general, competencies progress from lower to higher levels of skill complexity both within each domain in a given tier and across the tiers.  Public health organizations are encouraged to interpret and adapt the Core Competencies in ways that meet their specific organizational needs.