The Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals (Core Competencies) are a consensus set of competencies for the broad practice of public health in any setting. Developed by the Council on Linkages Between Academia and Public Health Practice, the Core Competencies reflect skills that may be desirable for professionals who deliver the Essential Public Health Services. The Core Competencies exist as a foundation for public health practice and offer a starting point for public health professionals and organizations working to better understand and meet workforce development needs.

Organization of the Core Competencies

The Core Competencies are organized into domains reflecting skill areas within public health, as well as tiers representing career stages of public health professionals.


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

  1. Analytic/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


The Core Competencies are presented in three tiers, which reflect stages of public health career development:

  • Tier 1 – 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 basic data collection and analysis, fieldwork, program planning, outreach activities, programmatic support, and other organizational tasks.
  • Tier 2 – Program Management/Supervisory Level. Tier 2 competencies apply to public health professionals with program management or supervisory responsibilities. Specific responsibilities of these professionals may include program development, implementation, and evaluation; establishing and maintaining community relations; managing timelines and work plans; and presenting arguments and recommendations on policy issues.
  • 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 the major programs or functions of an organization, setting a strategy and vision for the organization, and building the organization’s culture.


The organization of the Core Competencies into three tiers provides guidance in identifying appropriate competencies for public health professionals. The individual competencies within the tiers build upon each other, describing desired skills for professionals at progressive stages of their careers. Public health organizations are encouraged to interpret the tiers and adapt the competencies in ways that meet their individual organizational needs.