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. Before getting to the highest paying careers in public health, let’s review the top public health degrees, and why they are important.

  • Bachelors 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 Bachelors degree in a health-related field). However, if you know you want to work in Public Health, you may has well find a BPH degree. BPH programs are offered online and on-campus – review the top BPH programs here.
  • Master of Public Health: By far the most common degree for those working in public health, the MPH degree is also offered online. The 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. Perhaps the best feature of the MPH is that is is offered online for working professionals that already have a Bachelors degree in public health or a related field. 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 view all of the different types of public health degrees for more information. As mentioned, MPH programs are offered online: consider the Online MPH at George Washington University, which is CEPH accredited and you can complete the program in as few as 12 months, or the Online MPH program at the University of North Carolina, which was top-ranked on U.S. News’ most recent list in 2015. You can also review the full list of the top online MPH programs for more detail.
  • 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). View more on the DPH degree.

If you do not yet have an MPH (or BPH), you might consider some of the below programs. They are currently accepting applicants for their 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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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 would need to be employed, and how much it may pay.1 After you’re finished reading about the top careers in public health, view the What Can You Do With a Public Health Degree to learn more about public health jobs.


Summary: $86,720 per year / Minimum of a Bachelors Degree
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. Course work 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 11% by 2022. As advancements in software safety engineering and biomedical engineering are made, growth may continue to rise in health and safety engineering. Health and Safety Engineers make, on average, between $45,000 and $119,000 annually, with the average salary being just over $86,000 per year. Those in professional, scientific and technical services tend to make more than those in government or construction.


Summary: $68,910 per year / Minimum of a Bachelors Degree
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 the 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. Course work 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 are highly desired in 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 needed.

Salaries & Wages

The median wage for Environmental Scientists is $68,900, but can range from $38,600 to $110,000 depending on employment, experience and education. The Federal Government pays the highest average wage for Environmental Scientists followed by engineering and consulting. The employment of Environmental Scientists is on the rise most likely due to population rise and public interest in environmental safety.


Summary: $96,540 per year / Minimum of a Bachelors Degree
A Healthcare Administrator supports a clinic, department or group of physicians by directing and coordination health services. The main goal of a Healthcare Administrator 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 manager 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 licence may also be required by employers or the state.

Salaries & Wages

Healthcare Administrator employment is on the rise as the healthcare industry is experiencing a demand for more medical services. The median annual wage for Healthcare Administrators was over $95,000 in 2016 (compared to $88,600 in 2012), and ranged from less than $54,000 to more than $105,600. This range correlated with the type and size of organization. Those Healthcare Administrators working with smaller numbers of physicians tend to earn less than those working in larger practices.


Summary: $81,950 per year / Minimum of a Masters Degree in Public Health
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.

Degree Requirements

An undergraduate degree in statistics will suffice for some entry-level jobs, but the vast majority will require a master’s degree. Course work 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 median annual wage for all Statisticians was $81,950 per year in 2016, compared to $76,000 in 2012. The Federal Government was the highest paying industry at $97,000 on average, with healthcare paying $63,000 per year on average.


Summary: $70,820 per year / Minimum of a Masters Degree in Public Health
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 policy makers 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 $70,820 per year in 2016, compared to $65,000 in 2012, Epidemiologists are among the highest paid public health practitioners with a growing average salary. Many Epidemiologist are employed in research and development, hospitals, universities and government. The expected job growth for epidemiologists is slightly less than that of the total expected job growth. At the local and state level, however, job growth is anticipated to increase.


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

Those interested in academia can expect a median annual salary around $67,000. Professors, or postsecondary teachers, in public health will educate students at an undergraduate or graduate level in their speciality. 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

Consider featured online public health programs currently accepting applicants:

Click here to request free information about Capella University’s online DrPH – Public Health program.

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. The mean annual salary for all physicians was $187,000.

Public Health Occupations – Wages, Employment, and Projections

Below you will find detailed data on every public health related occupation in the United States. Our data is gathered from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and combined with US Census Bureau data. We hand-edit this data and update it when it is released by the US Government, and have put hours of work into being able to easily display public health occupations throughout the website.

Public Health Occupation Average Salary % Growth by 2022
Epidemiologists $74,120 10.2%
Community Health Workers $38,180 25.1%
Environmental Scientists and Specialists $72,050 14.6%
Health Educators $55,260 19%
Medical and Health Services Managers $103,680 23.2%
Health Specialties Teachers $112,950 36.1%
Healthcare Social Workers $53,590 26.8%
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers $45,820 22.8%
Mental Health Counselors $43,990 28.5%
Natural Sciences Managers $136,450 5.7%

Accredited Online Public Health Programs:

1 All statistical and pay information is derived from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics website. Additional information can be found at www.bls.gov. Return to footnote reference.