Highest Paid Public Health Careers

Before Considering a Public Health Career

There are many options for a successful career in public health, but it should be noted that you more than likely need a degree and salaries vary by geographic location, cost of living, the company, and job roles or function. But to start a successful career in public health, one needs to start at the basics, so let’s review the top public health degrees, and why they are important.

  • Bachelor of Public Health: The BPH degree is the undergraduate option for college students. It is not a requirement to study a specific BS in Public Health program, as many students take an undergraduate path in Health Administration, Nursing, Informatics, or a different healthcare degree. The primary reason for this is most people working within public health have their MPH (most MPH programs require a bachelor’s degree in a health-related field). However, if you know you want to work in Public Health, you can pursue a BPH degree and build a foundation on your undergraduate training. BPH programs are offered online and on-campus – review the BPH programs using our guide.
  • Master of Public Health: A Masters of Public Health (MPH) is not required to work in public health, but most public health professionals would recommend it to work in both the private and public sector. There are a lot of different concentrations if you want a specialized MPH degree — Epidemiology, Global Health, Community Health, General Public Health, and Environmental Health are some of the most common, but be sure to research and learn about all of the different types of public health degrees available. There are plenty of traditional MPH programs  and Online MPH programs offered- feel free to explore them.
  • Doctor of Public Health: The DPH degree is the terminal degree of the public health field. If you are looking to become a public health professor teaching college students, or you are wanting to delve deep into a research position, you might consider continuing on to a DPH or DrPH (or PhD in Public Health) after your master’s education. Learn more about the DPH degree.

If you do not yet have an MPH, you might consider some of the below programs. You can click on these links (they open in a new tab or window, depending on your device), read on to learn about some of the top public health careers, then come back to review the MPH or BPH programs later.

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Baylor University Master of Public Health 

Earn your MPH online in as few as 18 months 

  • No GRE required
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George Washington University Master of Public Health

Earn your MPH online in as few as 12 months 

  • No GRE required
  • 45 credits
  • Live, online classes
  • Accredited by CEPH

Tufts University Master of Public Health 

Earn your MPH online in as few as 20 months 

  • No GRE required
  • 42 credits
  • Live, online classes
  • Accredited by CEPH

University of North Carolina Master of Public Health 

Earn your MPH Online in as few as 20 months 

  • No GRE required
  • 42 credits
  • Live, online classes
  • Accredited by CEPH

Simmons University Master of Public Health

Earn your MPH online in as few as 21 months  

  • No GRE required
  • 45 credits
  • Live, online classes
  • Accredited by CEPH

University of North Carolina Master of Public Health/Registered Dietitian 

Earn your MPH in as few as 20 months

  • No GRE required
  • 42 credits
  • Live, online classes
  • Accredited by ACEND

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Highest Paid Public Health Jobs

This list will break down some of the highest paying career options and explain what the job is, what an individual may need to be considered for employment, and how much the profession can pay. After you’re finished reading about the top careers in public health, view our What Can You Do With a Public Health Degree page  to learn more about public health jobs.

1. HEALTH AND SAFETY ENGINEER

Summary: $91,410 per year / Minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree (BLS Health and Safety Engineer Page)

Health and safety engineers work primarily in scientific and technical services but are also employed in construction and with the government. Manufacturing has used health and safety engineers historically to help with cutting costs and to provide safer consumer products and safer work environments. The job of a health and safety engineer is to design systems and procedures that prevent people from getting sick or injured. Health and safety engineers must have keen critical thinking, observational and problem-solving skills along with creativity to solve sometimes complex, multi-faceted problems. Health and safety engineers will identify potential hazards, ensure compliance to health and safety regulations, review safety programs, and also investigate accidents.

Degree Requirements

A bachelor’s degree in engineering, public health, or occupational/industrial hygiene is required for entry-level jobs in health and safety engineering. Coursework in systems engineering, occupational safety, industrial hygiene, and environmental health and safety are just some of options an individual interested in health and safety engineering should take during their undergraduate degree. Experience is also highly sought after by employers, so internships or work experience should also be considered.

Salaries & Wages

Careers in health and safety engineering are expected to grow at the same pace as all other occupations, around 5% by 2028. Advancements in software safety engineering and biomedical engineering will likely contribute to this growth. Health and safety engineers make, on average, between $53,650 and $143,880 annually, with the median annual wage being just over $91,410. Those in professional, scientific and technical services tend to make more than those in government or construction.

2. ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENTISTS

Summary: $71,360 per year / Minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree (BLS Environmental Scientist Page)

Using their knowledge of natural sciences, environmental scientists protect both environmental and human health. Many do this through land reclamation after pollution or developing regulations that restrict air and soil pollution. Environmental scientists do this through data collection, plan development, and sharing information with the government, business or the public. The majority are employed by state and local government, but many also work as consultants. Most of their time will be spent in a laboratory or office, with some field work collecting data and monitoring conditions.

Degree Requirements

A bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences, biology, chemistry, engineering or public health is enough for most entry-level jobs in environmental sciences (such as field analysis or research assistants). For more advanced careers, a master’s level degree is often required. Coursework for an individual looking for a career in environmental sciences should include biology, geology, physics, and more specialized courses such as waste management, fluid mechanics, data analysis, and computer modeling. Communication and interpersonal skills can be useful to environmental sciences as many careers require individuals to explain findings to a variety of people. Additionally, the ability to think analytically and use problem-solving are powerful tools.

Salaries & Wages

The median wage for Environmental Scientists is $71,360 but can range from less than $42,810 to more than $124,760 depending on employer, experience and education. The federal government pays the highest average wage for environmental scientists followed by the engineering and consulting industries. The employment of environmental scientists will grow 8% between 2018 and 2028, in part due to a growing population and public interest in environmental safety.

3. Medical and Health Services Managers

Summary: $100,980 per year / Minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree (BLS Medical and Health Services Managers Page)

A healthcare services manager supports a clinic, department or group of physicians by directing and coordinating health services. The main goal of a healthcare manager is to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare services. Duties range from billing and scheduling to representing their team at board meetings or with governing bodies. Healthcare administrators (also known as medical and health service managers or healthcare executives) work in hospitals, nursing homes, ambulatory health services, clinics and rarely in a government position.

Degree Requirements

At a minimum, healthcare administrators must have a bachelor’s degree, but master’s degrees are more common. A degree specific in health administration will cover the basic knowledge requirements such as accounting, budgeting, health economics, strategic planning, and hospital organization and management. For those with a bachelor’s degree, experience working in a hospital is highly desired for employers. A certification or license may also be required by employers or the state.

Consider featured accredited online MHA programs seeking applicants for a Master of Health Administration:

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Salaries & Wages

The median annual wage for medical and health services managers was over $99,700 in 2018 and ranged from less than $58,000 to more than $182,600. This range correlated with the type and size of organization. Medical and health services managers working with smaller numbers of physicians tend to earn less than those working in larger practices.

4. BIOSTATISTICIAN

Summary: $91,160 per year / Minimum of a Master’s Degree in Public Health (BLS Statisticians Page)

Statisticians are a vital part of public health research. Statisticians design experiments, questionnaires and surveys to collect data on people and health. They will not only collect the data but will analyze it and create reports explaining their findings. Statisticians can work in many fields, but most are employed in government, healthcare, or research and development. Biostaticians in particular, use the tools of statistics to research questions related to medicine and biology. They may look into new drugs on the market or the causes of diseases.

Degree Requirements

An undergraduate degree in statistics will suffice for some entry-level jobs, but the vast majority require a master’s degree. Coursework in statistics and mathematics are necessary for entry into a master’s program. A master’s degree in statistics when paired with biology, sociology, and public health courses will best allow an individual to work in public health as a statistician, or more commonly called in health, a biostatistician.

Salaries & Wages

Job growth for statisticians in all occupations is on the rise, especially in the pharmaceutical industry and the government. The top 10% of statisticians earn $146,770 on average, while the median annual wage for all statisticians was $91,160 per year in 2019. 

5. EPIDEMIOLOGIST

Summary: $70,990 per year / Minimum of a Master’s Degree in Public Health (BLS Epidemiologist Page)

Epidemiologists work to reduce negative health outcomes by recognizing and researching the causes of disease and injury among populations. They do this through research, policy, and education. Developing and directing studies along with analyzing data are the main functions of an epidemiologist. Communicating findings to the public and policymakers is one of the most important duties of an epidemiologist.

Degree Requirements

A master’s level degree is required to work as an epidemiologist. The degree could be in epidemiology or another related public health field. The coursework however must include statistics, analysis, survey design, public health, biostatistics and some natural sciences. An attention to detail, clear communication and critical thinking skills are needed for a career in epidemiology.

Salaries & Wages

With a median annual wage of $70,990 per year, epidemiologists are among the highest paid public health practitioners. The top 10% of epidemiologists earn more than $119,20 while the lowest 10% earn less than $44,000. The expected job growth for epidemiologists from 2018 to 2028 is the same pace as the projected job growth for all occupations: 5%. At the local and state level, however, job growth is anticipated to increase, according to the BLS.

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GRE not required • 42 credits • Live classes

6. EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT DIRECTOR

Summary: $74,590 per year / Minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree (BLS Emergency Management Director Page)

The chief responsibility of emergency management directors is to prepare and develop plans to respond to natural disasters and other emergencies. They must assess hazards and develop plans to respond to disasters while also minimizing risk to the public. In collaboration with public officials, nonprofits, and government agencies, emergency management directors help lead the response both before and after emergencies or disasters.

Degree Requirements

Emergency management directors typically have at least a bachelor’s degree in business, emergency management, or public health, as well as many years of work experience in public administration, emergency preparedness, or disaster planning. In the private sector, some emergency management directors may need a degree in computer science, information systems administration, or another informational technology (IT) field.

Salaries & Wages

Careers in emergency management and preparedness are expected to grow at the same pace as all other occupations, around 5% by 2028. Emergency Management Directors make, on average, $74,590 per year, but salaries can range from less than $40,500 to more than $141,000 per year.

7. PUBLIC HEALTH ATTORNEY

Summary: $122,960 per year / Minimum of a Doctoral or Professional Degree (BLS Lawyer Page)

Public health lawyers work with local, state, and national government officials to devise policies, set regulations, and pass laws concerning public health standards. Public health attorneys may also advocate for patients and victims and pursue lawsuits against companies and organizations that violate public health standards.

Degree Requirements

Lawyers must complete a Juris (J.D.) degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association. To become a lawyer, seven years of full-time study after high school is required. This encompasses four years of undergraduate study and three years of law school. For lawyers who wish to specialize in public health, taking coursework focusing on health law is helpful.

Salaries & Wages

The average salary of an attorney is $122,960 per year, with a range from less than $59,670 annually to more than $208,000. Employment of attorneys is expected to grow 6 percent by 2028. Having a specialization in health law may offer candidates an edge, but competition for all legal jobs remains high.

8. COMPUTER AND INFORMATION SYSTEM MANAGERS IN HEALTHCARE

Summary: $146,360 per year / Minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree (BLS Computer and Information System Managers Page

Computer and information system managers plan, coordinate and direct computer-related activities in a healthcare organization. Computer and information systems managers, also known as clinical informatic specialists or information system managers, are responsible for determining the information technology goals for an organization and then implementing and meeting those goals. They may resolve software and hardware issues, install new computer systems, keep operating costs low, orchestrate and oversee long-term strategies to make computer systems and medical record keeping safer and more effective. 

Degree Requirements

To become an IT manager, a bachelor’s degree in computer and information science is required. However, if you are specifically interested in computer science, healthcare, and health informatics, a Master’s in Healthcare Informatics may be the best fit. Courses will cover health care systems, introductory courses in health informatics, data analytics, database design and implementation, and IT strategy and management courses.

Salaries & Wages

There is a growing demand for IT managers as organizations expand their operations to digital platforms and need to increase their cybersecurity. The average salary for a computer and information systems manager is $142,530 per year, with a range from less than $87,480 to more than $208,000.

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 Tufts University

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9. SOCIAL AND COMMUNITY SERVICE MANAGER

Summary: $67,150 per year / Minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree (BLS Social and Community Service Manager Page

Social and community service managers supervise workers who provide social services to the public. Such services may include those focusing on a specific demographic, such as children, veterans, senior citizens, or the homeless population, as well as those with particular challenges like substance abuse, mental health issues, or long-term unemployment. Core responsibilities include coordinating and overseeing health programs and community organizations. Social and community service managers are also responsible for the administrative aspects of community programs, working with stakeholders to identify needed programs and meet their objectives, planning and managing outreach and awareness campaigns, and writing proposals for community services funding. 

Degree Requirements

Most positions in social and community service management require a bachelor’s degree in social work, public health, or a related field. However, some jobs also require a master’s degree. Analytical skills, good communication, and time management and problem-solving skills are key to a career in social and community service management.

Salaries & Wages

Job growth for social and community service managers is expected to grow by 13 percent from 2018 to 2028. That increase is mostly due to the aging population, which will require more social services. The median annual salary for such a position is $67,150, with a range from less than $41,220 to more than $112,480.

10. DOCTORATE DEGREE HOLDERS

Many careers in public health can continue to a terminal degree, but it is not necessary for most when establishing a career. Those who do seek a doctorate degree often do so to work in academia or in research. Bioterrorism, vaccines, healthcare outcomes, mental health and social behavior are just a few of the topics most highly researched by public health practitioners with a doctoral degree.

Degree Requirements

Professors, or postsecondary teachers, in public health will educate students at an undergraduate or graduate level in their specialty. Most professors must have a Ph.D., but some institutions will accept master’s level degrees with experience. Additionally, many professors are expected to conduct research or be involved in a variety of other organizations, which may help to increase pay from other sources.

View DPH Programs

Salaries & Wages

Some public health practitioners choose to also obtain their medical license and work as public health physicians. This allows practitioners the ability to treat populations and individuals. These individuals often work for hospitals or government agencies and will also be on boards or key members of other public health organizations. As of 2019, the median annual salary for all physicians was equal to or greater than $208,000, according to the BLS.

Highest Paying Locations and Industries for Public Health Jobs

Besides the 10 highest paid public health jobs listed above, we have also compiled a list of the highest paying locations and industries for certain public health jobs for you to browse:

Highest Paying Locations and Industries for Health Education Specialists
Top 5 Paying Industries: Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation), Merchant Wholesalers, Nondurable Goods, Wholesale Electronic Markets and Agents and Brokers, Specialty (except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals, Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services
Top 5 Paying States: District of Columbia, Georgia , Rhode Island , Maryland, Hawaii
Top 5 Paying Metropolitan Areas:

  • Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA: $43.71 hourly, $90,920 annually
  • New Haven, CT: $42.96 hourly, $89,350 annually
  • Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV: $40.86 hourly, $84,990 annually
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA: $37.37 hourly, $77,730 annually
  • Urban Honolulu, HI: $37.22 hourly, $77,410 annually

Highest Paying Locations and Industries for Health and Safety Engineers
Top 5 Paying Industries: Oil and Gas Extraction, Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing, Natural Gas Distribution, Computer Systems Design and Related Services, Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing
Top 5 Paying States: District of Columbia, New Mexico, California, Colorado, Tennessee
Top 5 Paying Metropolitan Areas:

  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA: $59.67 hourly, $124,110 annually
  • Albuquerque, NM: $58.66 hourly, $122,020 annually
  • Kennewick-Richland, WA: $58.47 hourly, $121,620 annually
  • Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, CA: $56.99 hourly, $118,530 annually
  • Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT: $55.34 hourly, $115,110 annually

Highest Paying Locations and Industries for Environmental Scientists 
Top 5 Paying Industries: Natural Gas Distribution, Merchant Wholesalers, Nondurable Goods, Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation), Oil and Gas Extraction, Wholesale Electronic Markets and Agents and Brokers
Top 5 Paying States: District of Columbia, California, Washington, Virginia, Colorado
Top 5 Paying Metropolitan Areas:

  • Santa Rosa, CA: $58.85 hourly, $122,400 annually
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA: $52.49 hourly, $109,180 annually
  • Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV: $50.10 hourly, $104,210 annually
  • Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA: $50.09 hourly, $104,180 annually
  • Charlottesville, VA: $49.11 hourly, $102,140 annually

Highest Paying Locations and Industries for Medical and Services Managers
Top 5 Paying Industries: Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing, Scientific Research and Development Services, Wholesale Electronic Markets and Agents and Brokers, Navigational, Measuring, Electromedical, and Control Instruments Manufacturing, Chemical Manufacturing
Top 5 Paying States: District of Columbia, New York, Hawaii, California, Massachusetts
Top 5 Paying Metropolitan Areas:

  • Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA: $78.50 hourly, $163,280 annually
  • Vallejo-Fairfield, CA: $76.53 hourly, $159,190 annually
  • Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT: $74.31 hourly, $154,570 annually
  • Salinas, CA: $74.25 hourly, $154,440 annually
  • Hanford-Corcoran, CA: $69.88 hourly, $145,340 annually

Highest Paying Locations and Industries for Statisticians
Top 5 Paying Industries: Semiconductor and Other Electronic Component Manufacturing, Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing, Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services, Software Publishers, Computer Systems Design and Related Services
Top 5 Paying States: Massachusetts, New Jersey, Idaho, California, Maryland
Top 5 Paying Metropolitan Areas:

  • Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT: $61.52 hourly, $127,960 annually
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA: $60.56 hourly, $125,970 annually
  • Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH: $59.76 hourly,$124,300 annually
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA: $58.09 hourly, $120,820 annually
  • Raleigh, NC: $54.29 hourly, $112,920 annually

Highest Paying Locations and Industries for Epidemiologists
Top 5 Paying Industries: Grantmaking and Giving Services, Scientific Research and Development Services, Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing, Management of Companies and Enterprises, Specialty (except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals
Top 5 Paying States: Massachusetts, Washington, New Jersey, District of Columbia, California
Top 5 Paying Metropolitan Areas:

  • Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA: $58.72 hourly, $122,150 annually
  • Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV: $56.54 hourly, $117,610 annually
  • Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH: $55.67 hourly, $115,800 annually
  • New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA: $52.00 hourly, $108,170 annually
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA: $51.81 hourly, $107,760 annually

Public Health Occupations: Wages, Employment, and Projections

Below you will find detailed data on some public health related occupations in the United States. Our data is gathered from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Public Health Occupation Median Annual Salary, May 2019 % Growth from 2018 to 2028
Epidemiologists $70,990 5%
Community Health Workers $40,360 11%
Environmental Scientists and Specialists $71,360 8%
Health Educators $55,220 8%
Medical and Health Services Managers $100,980 18%
Healthcare Social Workers $56,750 17%
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers $46,650 18%
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors $46,240 22%
Natural Sciences Managers $129,100 6%

FAQs on Public Health Jobs and Salaries

What are the five highest paying jobs in public health?

Among the above list of highest paying public health jobs, Health and Safety Engineer, Medical and Health Services Manager, Biostatistician, Public Health Attorney, Computer and Information System Managers in Healthcare tend to receive higher average salaries than the other public health jobs in 2019.

Which are the highest paying locations for public health jobs?

In general, public health professionals may have higher salaries in large metropolitan areas, such as New York or California, but it largely depends on the types of public health jobs as well. For instance, Hawaii is one of the top five paying states for health education specialists and medical and services managers, and Colorado is one of the highest paying for environmental scientists.

What are the public health jobs most in demand?

Community Health Workers, Medical and Health Services Managers, Healthcare Social Workers, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers, Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors all have over 10% projected job growth from 2018 to 2028.

What are the factors that impact public health salary?

Many factors may impact public health salaries: types of public health jobs, locations, work settings, work experience, education levels, personal abilities, job growth, industry fields. So it’s important to take all these factors into consideration when choosing a public health job.

How much do types of work settings impact public health salary?

It may vary largely depending on the types of public health jobs. Take epidemiologists as an example. There are different types of epidemiologists, and the median salary for an epidemiologist in scientific research was $99,970 in 2019 while $62,440 in colleges or universities. Read our guide on types of epidemiologists where you can also find salary comparison.

Page last updated September 2020

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Explore All Public Health Degree Programs

Baylor University Master of Public Health 

Earn your MPH online in as few as 18 months 

  • No GRE required
  • 42 credits
  • Live, online classes

George Washington University Master of Public Health

Earn your MPH online in as few as 12 months 

  • No GRE required
  • 45 credits
  • Live, online classes
  • Accredited by CEPH

Tufts University Master of Public Health 

Earn your MPH online in as few as 20 months 

  • No GRE required
  • 42 credits
  • Live, online classes
  • Accredited by CEPH

University of North Carolina Master of Public Health 

Earn your MPH Online in as few as 20 months 

  • No GRE required
  • 42 credits
  • Live, online classes
  • Accredited by CEPH

Simmons University Master of Public Health

Earn your MPH online in as few as 21 months  

  • No GRE required
  • 45 credits
  • Live, online classes
  • Accredited by CEPH

University of North Carolina Master of Public Health/Registered Dietitian 

Earn your MPH in as few as 20 months

  • No GRE required
  • 42 credits
  • Live, online classes
  • Accredited by ACEND

George Washington University Master of Health Administration 

Earn your MHA online in as few as 24 months 

  • No GRE required
  • 50 credits
  • Live, online classes
  • Accredited by CAHME

Tufts University Master of Health Informatics & Analytics

Earn your MHI online in as few as 20 months

  • No GRE required
  • 36 credits
  • Live, online classes

Sponsored