Human microbiome science has advanced rapidly and reached a scale at which basic biology, clinical translation and population health are increasingly integrated. It is thus now possible for public health researchers, practitioners and policymakers to take specific action leveraging current and future microbiome-based opportunities and best practices. Here we provide an outline of considerations for research, education, interpretation and scientific communication concerning the human microbiome and public health. This includes guidelines for population-scale microbiome study design; necessary physical platforms and analysis methods; integration into public health areas such as epidemiology, nutrition, chronic disease, and global and environmental health; entrepreneurship and technology transfer; and educational curricula. Particularly in the near future, there are both opportunities for the incorporation of microbiome-based technologies into public health practice, and a growing need for policymaking and regulation around related areas such as prebiotic and probiotic supplements, novel live-cell therapies and fecal microbiota transplants.