Associate FAQs

What are the prerequisites for becoming a public health associate?
PHAP seeks prospective associates with a demonstrated commitment to public service through volunteer, work, or school experiences and who have a desire to pursue a career in public health. Applicants must possess a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited academic institution, willingness to commit to full-time work for two years, strong interpersonal skills, and effective oral and written communication abilities. To be considered for a position with PHAP, candidates must meet the PHAP eligibility requirements. Applicants are also encouraged to use the BEST FIT candidate characteristics assessment to determine their suitability for the program.

I have a degree in arts, not science. Am I eligible to apply to PHAP?
Yes. Individuals with non-science degrees may apply to the program.

Are non-US citizens who are permanent US residents eligible to apply to PHAP?
Yes, US permanent residents and US nationals are eligible to apply.

If I am accepted into PHAP, will I be a CDC employee?
Yes. Associates are term-limited CDC employees for the duration of the two-year program.

Is this a paid position?
Yes. During the first year of the program, associates earn a salary and benefits equivalent to a GS-5, Step 1 federal employee (including geographic cost of living adjustments). In the second year of the program, associates are eligible to earn a salary equivalent to a GS-7, Step 1 federal employee (including geographic cost of living adjustments). See the Office of Personnel Management Salary TableExternal for more information. Salary is nonnegotiable.

I have prior public health experience. Am I eligible for increased pay if accepted into the program?
No. All associates, regardless of their experience, are hired as GS-5, Step 1, entry-level, term-limited employees of CDC.

If accepted into the program, will I receive benefits?
All associates are given the opportunity to choose from and enroll in full health benefit programs that are partially compensated by CDC and available to all federal employees.

Is travel required while in PHAP?
Yes. Associates are required to travel from their host site location to Atlanta for the CDC-hosted PHAP orientation, mid-program training, and end-of-program training. Local travel may be required during associate’s two-year work assignment. The table below indicates who is responsible for travel costs.

Who is Responsible for Required Travel Expenses
Required Travel CDC PHAP Reimbursed Associate’s Responsibility
(Not Reimbursed)
Host Site Reimbursed
Relocation to host site location X
Local travel at host site during
the two-year assignment
Mandatory orientations and trainings X
Relocation after program ends X

Where are associates assigned?
Associates are assigned to state, tribal, local, or territorial health agencies; non-governmental organizations such as community-based organizations, public health institutes and associations, and; academic institutions; and CDC quarantine stations throughout the United States and US territories.

Can associates negotiate geographic placements or program assignment areas?
No. Associates cannot negotiate the location of their job assignment, nor the program area in which they will work. PHAP continues to refine the host site and associate matching process to make the best possible placements for associates while meeting the public health needs of local, state, federal, and non-governmental organizations and achieving PHAP goals. Select candidates must be willing to accept a field assignment anywhere in the United States or US territories and work in any public health program area.

Page last reviewed: January 3, 2017