The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a U.S. government agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. The primary role of the FDA is protecting public health by ensuring the safety and effectiveness of drugs, vaccines, medical devices and food products. The agency also assures the safety and proper labeling of cosmetics and regulates radiation emitted by electronic products.
The FDA promotes the public good by helping to speed advances in science and medicine that will increase the safety, effectiveness and affordability of medicines. It regulates the manufacturing, marketing and distribution of tobacco products while campaigning to reduce tobacco use, especially among minors. The agency also plays a role in homeland security by protecting the nation’s food supply from terrorist actions and supporting the development of medical products that can be used to combat public health threats.
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The FDA organizational structure includes the Office of the Commissioner, which provides agency-wide program direction and management, and the following four directorates that cover the agency’s core functions:
- Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine: Leads an FDA Foods program that addresses the safety and nutrition of human food and animal feed; it also regulates food additives and drugs that are intended for animals.
- Office of Medical Products and Tobacco: Advises the Office of the Commissioner on programs and issues pertaining to tobacco and medical products.
- Office of Global Regulatory Operations and Policy: Provides leadership for FDA regulations and policies related to domestic and international product quality.
- Office Operations: Provides agency-wide services in the areas of financial management, information technology, procurement and facilities.
The FDA offers a wide range of opportunities for public health careers. Although the agency is headquartered in Washington, D.C., FDA facilities are located throughout the United States as well as abroad. As publicized on the FDA’s website, the agency is actively recruiting to fill mission-critical positions that support public health.
Most upper-level career positions within the FDA require a bachelor’s degree at minimum, with some positions requiring a Doctorate of Medicine, Doctor of Osteopathy or J.D. degree. FDA careers require an understanding of public health theory and methodologies, and a Master of Public Health degree can help differentiate one FDA job seeker from another.
Here is a sampling of public health positions within the FDA.
Job Title: Consumer Safety Officer
Estimated Salary: $75,621 to $98,305
Consumer safety officers work as members of teams that investigate product safety issues, initiate actions against violators, develop inspection procedures and manage regulatory programs.
Job Title: Health Communications Specialist
Estimated Salary: $105,211 to $136,771
This health communications specialist position in the Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats (OCET) provides strategic communication and coordination in crisis situations. The OCET develops safe and effective emergency countermeasures to protect the food supply, medicines, medical devices and veterinary products against terrorist activities and in emergency situations.
Job Title: Medical Officer
Estimated Salary: $106,263 to $138,136
Depending on their assignment, medical officers may apply epidemiological principles to medical research in order to identify the causes or sources of disease and disease outbreaks. They also may review applications for innovative medical devices, conduct inspections of food and drug manufacturing facilities, and monitor the post-market safety and effectiveness of drugs and medical devices.
Job Title: Director of the Office of Applied Research and Safety
Estimated Salary: $123,758 to $199,700
The director provides executive leadership and managerial direction for the Office of Applied Research and Safety Assessment (OARSA), a component of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. OARSA, which conducts research programs, employs more than 100 personnel and has a budget of over $6 million.
Job Title: Senior Regulatory Counsel
Estimated Salary: $123,758 to $155,500
The senior regulatory counsel for the Center for Tobacco Products coordinates and evaluates the center’s compliance efforts, establishes compliance policy and makes policy recommendations to the center director.
For additional details about current FDA vacancies, visit the USA Jobs website and search for openings in the Department of Health and Human Services.