What Are the Highest-Paying Jobs in Public Health?

Gayle Morris, MSN
Updated June 19, 2024
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Public health can be challenging, yet highly rewarding. Explore the highest-paying public health jobs that require a master’s or bachelor’s degree.
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Public health professionals help prevent and control disease, respond to emergencies, and promote overall health at the population level.

They also conduct important scientific research that can lead to better treatments and health outcomes. Public health positions are challenging, but they can also be very rewarding from a financial and professional standpoint.

Learn more about the field and its highest-paying roles, including for professionals with both undergraduate and graduate-level training.

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Public Health Jobs Overview

Public health is the science and practice of protecting and improving community health through education, policy, and research. There are various professions included in the public health field, including:

  • Epidemiologists
  • Health educators
  • Environmental health scientists
  • Medical and health services managers
  • Biostatisticians

Demand for these and other health professionals is growing faster than the national average. Public health professionals help society prepare for and respond to pandemics and other health emergencies and address growing rates of chronic disease.

Public health positions requiring an undergraduate degree typically pay lower salaries than positions that require a graduate-level education. For example, data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that health education specialists, a position that requires a minimum of an undergraduate degree, earn a median annual wage of $62,860, while medical scientists, which require a graduate-level degree, earn a median of $112,380 per year.

The Highest-Paying Undergraduate Public Health Jobs

Public health professionals with undergraduate degrees can pursue many opportunities. Your salary will vary depending on geographic location, job function, and experience. A bachelor of public health is one common undergraduate public health degree. While an undergrad degree is the minimum educational requirement, employers may offer more to those with graduate degrees.

Highest-Paying Undergraduate Public Health Jobs
RankCareerMedian Annual Salary
1Public Health Nurse$72,314
2Emergency Management Director$80,092
3Environmental Scientist$57,785
4Social and Community Service Manager$77,030
5Healthcare Consultant With Public Health Skills$79,978
Source: Payscale 2024

1 | Public Health Nurse

A public health nurse focuses on community health, preventing disease, and promoting wellness. They operate in a variety of settings, including schools, clinics, and community centers. They use education, advocacy, and direct care to target underserved populations. Public health nurses play a critical role in managing public health crises and improving overall community health outcomes. Their key responsibilities include conducting health screenings, education, and vaccination.

Average Annual Salary: $72,314

2 | Emergency Management Director

An emergency management director develops plans and procedures for responding to natural disasters and other emergencies. This ensures the community’s safety and improves resilience. These professionals coordinate with a variety of agencies to manage resources and lead response efforts. Their key responsibilities include risk assessment, emergency response training, and public communication. The role is crucial for mitigating the impact disasters have on communities and safeguarding public health.

Average Annual Salary: $80,092

3 | Environmental Scientist

Environmental scientists study conditions and identify, mitigate, and prevent health hazards. They analyze air, water, and soil samples to develop pollution control strategies and work on policies that protect human health and the environment. Governmental agencies, nonprofit organizations, and consulting firms often employ environmental scientists. They play a critical role in addressing issues like waste management and environmental problems like toxic spills.

Average Annual Salary: $57,785

4 | Social and Community Service Manager

A social and community service manager oversees programs that support public health. They work with nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and healthcare facilities, managing staff, developing budgets, and coordinating services. In their role, they assess community needs, implement effective programs, and evaluate the program’s impact to improve community health and social outcomes. Services may include housing, child welfare programs, and mental health support.

Average Annual Salary: $77,030

5 | Healthcare Consultant with Public Health Skills

These healthcare consultants offer expert advice on health issues, with an emphasis on public health. They help develop programs to promote health and prevent diseases. These professionals work with nonprofit organizations, private organizations, and government agencies to create policies and interventions that improve community health.

Average Annual Salary: $79,978

The Highest-Paying Graduate Public Health Jobs

Public health offers a variety of rewarding careers for those with advanced degrees. Jobs requiring a master’s in public health degree or higher require specialized knowledge and skills to tackle complex health challenges using research, policymaking, and advanced clinical practices. Public health jobs are in demand, driven by ongoing health challenges.

Highest-Paying Graduate Public Health Jobs
RankCareerMedian Annual Salary
2Health Economist$81,161
3Genetic Counselor$81,076
4Healthcare Administrator $78,447
Source: Payscale 2024

1 | Biostatistician

A biostatistician in public health applies statistical methods to analyze and interpret data relating to health outcomes. Biostatisticians design studies, manage data collection, and perform complex statistical analyses. Their work is critical to identifying health trends, evaluating interventions, and guiding decision-making. They contribute significantly to the advancement of medical and public health research.

Average Annual Salary: $82,480

2 | Health Economist

A health economist analyzes the economic impact and aspects of healthcare to inform policy and improve efficiency. Health economists primarily study the costs, benefits, and impacts of health policies and interventions to optimize resource allocation and ultimately enhance health outcomes. They are employed by government agencies, research institutions, and nonprofits where they play a crucial role in shaping effective systems and policies.

Average Annual Salary: $81,161

3 | Genetic Counselor

A genetic counselor can assess individual risk for inherited conditions, including genetic disorders and birth defects. They provide information and support patients and families to help them understand risks and their testing options. Genetic counselors have an important long-term impact on public health practices as they are involved in population-based screening programs, lobbying for public policy, public health-related research, and chronic disease programs.

Average Annual Salary: $81,076

4 | Healthcare Administrator

Some healthcare administrators go on to lead hospitals or large business units within a facility or healthcare system. There are many different jobs within this field, however, from the correctional system to the nation’s most prestigious hospitals, a graduate-level public health degree can prepare you to pursue them.

Average Annual Salary: $78,447

5 | Epidemiologist

An epidemiologist studies patterns, causes, and effects of disease conditions within a defined population. They are often involved in designing and conducting studies, collecting and analyzing data, and developing public health interventions that help to control and prevent health problems. Epidemiologists play a crucial role in managing health outbreaks and informing public health policies.

Average Annual Salary: $69,676

Frequently Asked Questions About Public Health Jobs

Salaries are highly influenced by geographic location, level of education, organization, job description, and any certifications you may hold. Biostatisticians and health economists earn some of the highest salaries in the public health field.

Page last reviewed on June 10, 2024