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HIGHEST PAYING JOB IN PUBLIC HEALTH 2023

Public health is a satisfying and rapidly growing field. Those in public health strive to protect and promote health in the community and around the world. Within the public health sector, there are many great-paying careers. And there is enough variety in public health to satisfy a range of interests and expertise. 

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Our list of the highest-paying public health jobs varies in the scope of the work and annual wages. However, public health-related occupations are on the rise. And there are plenty of opportunities in public health and the medical and health services field for qualified individuals seeking employment. 

This list of the highest-paying public health jobs can help guide you to an area of public health that will be a good fit for you. The median yearly salaries of public health professionals vary according to education level, experience, responsibilities, and location. Keep reading to find a specialization in public health that may fit your interests and career aspirations. 

Methodology for Highest Paying Public Health Jobs

We collected career information for the highest-paying public health jobs through various sources. These include the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Salary.com, Payscale, and others. Salaries for these public health careers are listed as the median annual income. But we have also included salary ranges for public health professionals to show our readers what is possible among the best-paying jobs in public health. This information is intended as a guide to public health jobs. Specifics about individual public health jobs should be investigated to find out the current requirements. 

Public Health High Paying Jobs: Top Careers 2023

RoleAverage Annual Salary
Tropical Disease Specialist$277,439
Public Health Attorney$96,684
Healthcare Administrator$101,340
Public Health Veterinarian$94,382
Infection Control Coordinator$73,077
Public Health Engineer $99,040
Biostatistician$78,030
Industrial Hygienist$79,944
Occupational Therapist$85,570
Genetic Counselor$80,150
Radiation Safety Officer (RSO)$99,340 
Professor of Public Health$87,107
Municipal Water Treatment Plant Director$156,510
Medical Investigator$77,976
Emergency Management Directors$92,296
Occupational Health & Safety Specialist$74,870
Public Health Nurse$58,019
Health Inspector$51,536
Director of Environmental Health$90,089
Environmental Scientists and Specialists$76,530
Epidemiologist$102,618
Orthotist and Prosthetist$75,440
Agricultural and Food Scientist$74,160
Health Communications Specialist$49,493
Dietitian$61,650
Public Health Educator$64,930
Public Health Social Worker$65,856
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Counselor$48,520
Community Health Worker$47,780
Emergency Medical Technician$35,830
Health and Wellness Manager$104,880

Community Health Worker

Community Health Worker: Public Health

Community health workers provide a link between the community and needed healthcare. These public health workers implement strategies to improve health in the communities where they serve. They go into the community for public health outreach to identify health-related issues and needs. They also collect data and hear from community members. Community health workers help protect public health through their work in the community. They provide outreach through referrals for health services, housing, education, and food. Depending on the location, community health workers may move into leadership positions in public health as community service managers. Community service managers typically oversee the work of other community health employees.

Among the duties of a community health worker are the following:

  • Provide findings to healthcare workers, health education specialists, or social workers.
  • Public health campaigns based on data collected to identify community needs.
  • Promote cancer screenings and the importance of healthcare services.
  • Assist communities in need by providing informal counseling and social support.
  • Organize outreach events.
  • Ensure that basic health services such as weight and height measurements, diabetic foot checks, and first aid are available.
  • Educate community members about health concerns
Education Needed

A bachelor’s degree is often required to work in community health. Workers in community health typically have degrees in public health, psychology, or human services. An associate’s degree or high school diploma may suffice for some entry-level public health roles. But a health services manager or community service managers usually need an advanced public health degree, depending on the company and the requirements. Community service managers may also make significantly more if there are more responsibilities within the role.

Average Annual Salary:

As of May 2021, the mean annual wage for community health workers was $47,780 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Salary Range: 

The salary range for this occupation falls between $33,867 and $45,791 depending on location and skill level. Community health workers don’t have the highest-paying public health jobs. However, this role is a great way to gain experience for much higher-paying public health careers.

Public Health Attorney

Public Health Attorney

Public health attorneys are lawyers working in the field of public health. Often, they work as advisors and attorneys for government agencies, businesses, or other groups. In addition, public health attorneys work to create regulations and laws that improve the health and well-being of the public. They may also work on public health-related environmental issues. 

As a public health attorney, you may handle many differentpublic health cases. You could be protecting the legal rights of a group or individual. Yet you might also be advising and educating others on a specific course of action. You may work on many small public health projects. You could also find yourself working to effect changes on a large scale. Public health attorneys can have a stressful yet highly rewarding position. And the pay for a public health lawyer is excellent.

Education Needed

This is one of the highest-paying public health jobs. So training for this career is rigorous. You’ll start by earning a bachelor’s degree in legal studies or a related area. This will be followed by at least three years of law school. There, you will likely pursue a Juris Doctor degree. Some law schools even offer a dual law degree with a Master of Public Health (MPH). And, of course, you’ll need to pass the bar exam where you plan to practice. 

Average Annual Salary:

The average annual pay for a public health attorney is $96,684. However, the salary for a public health attorney can vary significantly depending on experience, location, and other factors.

Salary Range: 

According to Comparably, the middle 57% can make between $89,616 and $225,781 a year. But the top 86% earn an average of $498,664. Clearly, attorneys have some of the highest paying jobs in public health.

Industrial Hygienist

Industrial Hygienist

Industrial hygienists protect and promote public health and safety in the workplace. They anticipate, recognize, evaluate, and control various public health hazards. They are sometimes referred to as occupational hygienists. These professionals may work in government or private organizations across many sectors. Some responsibilities of an industrial hygienist may include the following:

  • Minimizing employee exposure to hazards by reducing or removing them.
  • Changing work practices and procedures to eliminate exposure to hazards.
  • Inspecting and maintaining equipment regularly.
  • Providing employees with personal protective equipment and ensuring they know how to use it.
  • Investigating accidents and incidents and determining how to avoid them in the future.
Education Needed

Candidates typically enter the field with a bachelor’s degree in public health, biology, engineering, or a related degree. They may also pursue a program specifically geared toward industrial hygiene or safety. Most will pursue certification. Typically this is provided by the Institute of Safety and Systems Management. Some employers prefer candidates with a Master’s in Public Safety Administration or a related field. 

Average Annual Salary:

According to Payscale, the average annual pay for industrial hygienists is $79,944. That makes it one of the highest-paying public health jobs available.

Salary Range: 

Industrial hygienists can earn anywhere from $49,000 to $119,000 a year. Higher pay correlates to additional education and experience. And that makes this one of the best-paying jobs in public health.

Medical Investigator

Medical Investigator

A medical investigator has one of the more unique jobs in public health. A forensic scientist who conducts a clinical inquiry is known as a medical investigator. They investigate suspicious deaths or deaths of unknown causes. They are sometimes referred to as Medical Examiners. They may perform autopsies to determine the cause of a person’s death. Other responsibilities include cleaning laboratory stations and maintaining laboratory equipment. They often investigate sudden deaths, sometimes at the scene of a crime. They also help police collect evidence at crime scenes.

Education Needed

Medical investigators typically have a bachelor’s degree in forensic science. Some of them hold an associate’s degree with experience. They are trained in DNA analysis, microbiology, and crime scene investigation. Many medical investigators are also trained in specialized areas of forensics. 

Average Annual Salary:

According to Zippia.com, in 2022 medical investigators made $77,976 per year on average.

Salary Range: 

The salary range for this occupation is $43,000 to $141,000. The wide variance is mainly due to location with some states paying much higher than others. In some circumstances, medical investigators have one of the highest-paying public health jobs on this list.

Public Health Engineer

Public Health Engineer

Public health engineers develop procedures and systems to protect people from illness and injury. Knowledge of engineering, health, and safety is crucial in this role. Health and safety engineering involves investigating accidents and injuries to determine how to prevent future problems. Public health engineers also follow up on corrections made due to inspection violations. They may also be called a public health and safety engineer.

Public health engineering is a broad field that often overlaps with other engineering roles. For example, a health and safety engineer might also work in roles such as:

  • Product Safety Engineering
  • Fire Prevention and Protection Engineering 
  • Systems Safety Engineering
  • Mining and Geological Engineering
Education Needed

A public health and safety engineer will typically have a bachelor’s degree in engineering. A health and safety engineer may also have an undergraduate degree in environmental health and safety. This is one of only a few high-paying public safety jobs you can get with just a bachelor’s degree. However, some employers do prefer candidates with a master’s in engineering

Average Annual Salary:

According to BLS, the average annual pay for a health and safety engineer/public health engineer is $99,040. That makes this career one of the highest-paying public health jobs available.

Salary Range: 

The salary for public safety engineers ranges from $23,500 to $150,000 annually, depending on the employer and location. 

Radiation Safety Officer (RSO)

Radiation Safety Officer (RSO)

Radiation safety officers are responsible for the safe use of radiation and radioactive materials. Sometimes they are referred to as Nuclear Technicians. These public health professionals oversee and ensure regulatory compliance within their organization. A radiation safety officer’s responsibilities often include:

  • Making sure that any incidents involving radioactive materials and exposure adhere to regulations.
  • Compiling quarterly reports on worker radiation exposure for both work and personal use.
  • Creating a quarterly compilation of radiation levels in both restricted and unrestricted regions. This includes a comparison with earlier quarters and confirmation that they were at ALARA levels.
  • Establishing training to inform staff about radiation safety and the implemented ALARA program(s).
  • Reviewing the company’s radiation safety program on an annual basis and its compliance with ALARA for the year.
  • Looking into any occurrences where radiation exposure exceeded the permissible limit.

Depending on the size of the company, the radiation safety officer (RSO) may be a full-time position on its own. Smaller companies may have a manager take on the added responsibilities of an RSO. They could work for biotech and pharmaceutical firms, medical facilities, governmental organizations, or power plants. RSOs are needed anywhere that radioactive material is present.

Education Needed

Typically, a Bachelor’s Degree is required to be an RSO. Some associate’s degree holders can gain entry-level positions. The most common majors for radiation safety officers are business, public health, or medical technician.

Average Annual Salary:

The median pay in 2021 for a Nuclear Technician (or Radiation Safety Officer) was $99,340, making it one of the top-paying public health jobs on our list.

Salary Range: 

According to Salary.com, the salary range is $62,586 to $106,853. Factors determining the pay rate include geography and experience.

Public Health Veterinarian

ic Health Veterinarian

A public health veterinarian is trained in veterinary medicine like a regular vet. However, their focus is on protecting humans from diseases and injuries from animal sources. Many consider this role to be one of the best jobs in public health. Public health veterinarians often have a wide range of responsibilities. They include things like:

  • Keeping an eye on matters that could have an impact on public health
  • Spearheading programs and interventions to protect human and animal health
  • Data analysis to determine the risks of diseases transmitted from animals to humans
  • Working with public health officials to protect public health in a population
Education Needed

Some students start training for this career early by earning a Vet Tech Associate Degree. But to become a public health vet, most people begin with a bachelor’s degree. From there, you’ll need to earn a DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) degree. The degree takes about four years. You will also need to pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination. And you will likely need licensing for your specific state as well. Those who want to become public health veterinarians typically need additional education too. This often means pursuing a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree.  

Average Annual Salary:

The average annual pay for this role is $94,382, making it one of the highest-paying public health jobs.

Salary Range: 

Annual earnings for a public health veterinarian vary depending on the employer and location. However, U.S. salaries for this role can range from $53,210 to $158,260. According to BLS, the veterinary field is growing much faster than average. And jobs in this sector are expected to increase by nearly 20 percent through 2031.

Occupational Therapist

Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists (OTs) are healthcare professionals. They treat patients with injuries, illnesses, or disabilities. These include Parkinson’s disease such as cerebral palsy, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, and amputees. They do this through treatment using everyday activities. Occupational therapy places more emphasis on treating the complete patient than it does on treating a specific thing. This sets it apart from other healthcare professions like physical therapy or nursing. OTs are an integral part of treatment for disabilities.

OTs often work in occupational therapy offices. They also work in hospitals, schools, healthcare facilities, and home health services. This occupation is growing much faster than other occupations. It is projected to grow 14% from 2021 to 2031.

Education Needed

Occupational therapists (OTs) must pass the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) test. They also must have a license to practice and have graduated from a recognized occupational therapy institution. Earning a master’s degree is essential to begin a career in the industry.

Average Annual Salary:

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2021 average salary (median pay) for an Occupational Therapist was $85,570 per year. 

Salary Range: 

The salary range typically falls between $82,184 and $97,748, but can vary depending on many factors such as education, experience, and certifications. Occupational therapists have some of the most rewarding and highest-paying public health jobs on our list.

Tropical Disease Specialist 

Tropical Disease Specialist 

Tropical disease specialist is a title within the field of infectious diseases. This role focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of contagious diseases. However, it primarily addresses illnesses prevalent in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. A tropical disease specialist is a medical professional, usually a doctor. But they have additional highly specialized training and experience. The salary is high, but they are also responsible for many vital tasks. 

For example, they need to identify disease outbreaks and prevent their spread. This may include conducting medical tests, research, and compiling data about diseases. In addition, they will need to develop methods of diagnosing people with the illness. And they must create plans to immunize, treat and monitor patients.

Education Needed

To become a tropical disease specialist, you will need to go to medical school and study infectious diseases. Med school is typically followed by a residency in tropical disease lasting up to seven years. Next, you will likely complete a one to three-year fellowship. Finally, obtaining a license to practice medicine is required. You may also need additional certification in your specialty. 

Average Annual Salary:

According to ERI’s Salary Expert, the average annual pay for this role is $277,439. That makes this career one of the highest-paying public health jobs you can get.

Salary Range: 

The salary for a tropical disease specialist can be anywhere from $186,563-$361,555 a year. Pay depends on your location, experience, and your employer. 

Genetic Counselor

Genetic Counselor

Genetic counselors are risk assessors. They look at the risk for inherited conditions like genetic disorders and birth defects. Those with compassion and excellent communication skills may find success in this field. Genetic counseling looks at the potential effects of genetic diseases on an individual and their family. A genetic counselor gathers information about your personal and family health histories. They use this information to predict the possibility of certain diseases.

Many genetic counselors work in medical centers. They also work in hospitals, diagnostic laboratories, or physicians’ offices. Working with families, patients, and other public health workers is part of the job. This field has a projected growth of 18% from 2021 to 2031. This is much faster than the national average. This is largely due to advances in medical technology.

Education Needed

A bachelor’s degree in a scientific or genetics-related field is necessary to operate as a genetic counselor. Additionally, a genetic counselor must graduate from a recognized institution with a master’s degree.

Average Annual Salary:

The average annual salary for a genetic counselor in 2021 was $80,150 per year according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Salary Range: 

The salary range typically falls between $70,280 and $86,616. Experience plays a large role in the pay rate, as does education. Genetic counselors have some of the highest-paying public health jobs on our list.

Infection Control Coordinator

Infection Control Coordinator

Infection control coordinators spend their time investigating outbreaks of illness and disease. Then, they track them through population surveillance. Getting to the heart of any public health matter is critical. So some of the tasks in this role include collecting samples and interviewing people in the community. They then take this information and conduct data analysis to determine the severity of the outbreak.

People in this position often collaborate with other public health workers. The overall goal is to improve health practices to prevent the spread of infection. Infection control coordinators work in hospitals, nursing homes, government agencies, and other organizations. They have one of the highest-paying public health jobs in this field.

Education Needed

Infection control coordinators usually start with a bachelor’s degree. Most often, this is in public health, biology, nursing, or a related field. However, some employers require candidates with a master’s degree in nursing. Therefore, an ideal educational path for this role is an MSN/MPH Dual Degree Program. There may also be special licensing and certification requirements depending on where you live. 

Average Annual Salary:

Infection control coordinators make an average of $73,077 a year, depending on education and experience. 

Salary Range: 

The salary for an infection control coordinator can be anywhere from $54,000 to $93,000 annually. 

Professor of Public Health

Professor of Public Health

A public health professor has experience in the field of public health and teaches at the college or university level. Public health focuses on the potential effects of various illnesses and problems on the general population. Professors of public health often research socioeconomic determinants of health and health equity/disparities. These public health professionals work in public places like homeless shelters and government agencies. Some of them also run clinics that help those without health insurance. Many public health professors start as assistant professors of public health.

Education Needed

Biology, public health, and nursing are the most common fields of study of public health professors. It is necessary to have at least a bachelor’s degree in health education or a related field of health care. You can get qualified to teach at a community college with an MPH degree, or Master of Public Health degree. Professors at four-year institutions are often required to hold a terminal degree or a doctorate. If you have a master’s degree and some public health expertise, you can work at one of these institutions as an adjunct or part-time lecturer.

Average Annual Salary:

$87,107 is the average base salary of a Public Health Professor according to Payscale.com. As a professor in public health, you can make a great salary with one of the highest-paying public health jobs around.

Salary Range: 

The salary range is $62k to $127k based largely on the education and degree held.

Municipal Water Treatment Plant Director

Municipal Water Treatment Plant Director

The director of a wastewater treatment plant directs and oversees clean water. They are directed by the District Manager’s rules and assignments but they use a great deal of autonomous judgment in getting the job done. They oversee the operations of the water plant and ensure the facility operators are working in compliance. Many of these operations include:

  • Using chemicals to purify water or other liquids, such as ammonia, chlorine, or lime.
  • Keeping track of operational circumstances, meters, and gauges.
  • Ensuring that safety requirements are met.
  • Obtaining and analyzing sewage and water samples.
  • Logging operational data, meter, and gauge readings.
  • Keeping up with environmental rules and legislation.
  • Operating machinery to treat or dispose of sewage or to cleanse and clarify water.
  • Upkeep of the machinery, tanks, filter beds, and other workspaces.
  • Conducting routine equipment inspections.

Directors of water treatment facilities work for local governments. While most directors have an office, they often also work outdoors. They may be subjected to equipment noise and are exposed to offensive scents.

Education Needed

To enter this field, you will need the proper education to keep water safe for the community. This position requires a bachelor’s degree in science or engineering. There are also certifications specific to each state. Some colleges offer wastewater treatment classes through certificate programs in this field. A municipal water treatment plant director position requires experience as an operator.

Average Annual Salary:

According to Salary.com, the average wastewater treatment plant manager’s salary in the United States is $156,510 in 2022. This varies according to state, education, and experience.  

Salary Range: 

$136,021 to $180,077 is the salary range. State, education, and experience are all determining factors in the salary. It goes without saying that this role is one of the highest-paying public health jobs in the field.

Biostatistician

Biostatistician

Biostatisticans have some of the highest-paying public health jobs in the nation. Biostatisticians use data to help solve problems in many industries, including public health. As a result, a biostatistician has one of the most versatile and highest-paying public health jobs. These public health professionals can work in many sectors and have varying job responsibilities. For example, they may:

  • Work in pharmaceutical companies to design studies that test drug effectiveness.
  • Be part of the team in public health organizations or hospitals.
  • Identify sources of disease outbreaks among humans or animals.
  • Conduct data analysis and interpret results.
  • Coordinate and supervise other public health professionals.
Education Needed

You can enter the field of biostatistics with only a bachelor’s degree. Students should pursue an undergraduate degree in health sciences, statistics, mathematics, or a related field. However, some employers prefer candidates with a master’s degree or Ph.D.

Average Annual Salary:

The average annual earnings for biostatisticians is $78,030.

Salary Range: 

Biostatisticians can play many roles. As a result, pay varies widely depending on job responsibilities, location, and experience. Most biostatisticians in the U.S. make between $60,000 to $115,000 a year. 

Emergency Management Directors

Emergency Management Directors

Emergency Management Directors develop plans for emergency preparedness. They often work together with a leadership team to evaluate possible hazards. EMDs are in charge of developing emergency response protocols and lessening the risk of emergencies. They play a crucial part in emergency preparedness and ensuring the safety of employees. They help to equip staff to act effectively in case of an emergency.

When creating emergency preparedness plans, emergency management directors must complete several fundamental responsibilities. Depending on where you work as an emergency management director, your tasks may change. Common responsibilities include:

  • Hazard assessment
  • Emergency response leadership
  • Policy development
  • Facility maintenance
  • Emergency preparedness training

Emergency management directors work at many different sorts of organizations. They are often employed by private companies to safeguard their resources, workers, and clients. They can also work for government agencies, hospitals, and disaster relief groups. EMDs may work at residential establishments like universities to develop emergency preparedness plans to keep people safe. They often do research and write policy in an office setting, but they also operate in the field in times of need. Depending on where they work and the types of situations they manage, they often work full-time and might have a flexible schedule. 

Education Needed

At least a bachelor’s degree is needed to work as an emergency management director. EMDs also typically need some years of experience. This can be in emergency response or emergency preparedness. It could also be in public administration related to planning or emergency preparedness.

Average Annual Salary:

Salary.com reported the average 2022 yearly base pay for an emergency management director to be $92,296. This is one of the top paying jobs in public health on the list.

Salary Range: 

The pay can be as low as $79,788 and as high as $104,349, mostly based on education and experience in the field.

Healthcare Administrator

Healthcare Administrator

Healthcare administrators have some of the highest-paying public health jobs . Also called Medical and Health Services Management, this field is growing fast. These public health professionals may also be called health services managers. According to BLS, there will be over 130,000 new openings for health services managers and healthcare administrators by 2031. 

The responsibilities of health services managers involve planning, directing, and coordinating health services. This can take place anywhere from a small private practice to a large hospital, but it’s typically a job with multiple tasks. For example, healthcare administrators and health services managers oversee programs, budgets, and services. And health services managers ensure their facilities are running in tip-top shape. Plus, health services managers must stay informed on regulations, technology, and healthcare laws. 

Education Needed

For those who want to get involved in medical and health services management, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree. A public health degree is preferable. And many excellent schools are offering online bachelor’s in healthcare administration programs. However, most employers prefer health services managers with a master’s degree. Not all candidates will hold a Healthcare Administration Degree. Many health services managers enter the field with other credentials. This may include a Master of Public Health degree or even a dual MBA/MPH degree.

Average Annual Salary:

The average annual pay for healthcare administrators and health services managers is $101,340. But compensation can vary depending on your education and the facility you work at. 

Salary Range: 

The salary for healthcare administrators and health services managers can range anywhere from $60,780 to over $205,620, according to BLS.

Occupational Health & Safety Specialist

Occupational Health & Safety Specialist

An occupational health specialist examines working conditions and operational practices. They inspect workplaces to ensure that safety, health, and environmental rules comply. They also create plans to stop environmental harm, worker illness, and injury. Occupational health professionals may also be known as health and safety engineers. Typical duties of occupational health workers and health and safety engineers include:

  • Recognizing physical, chemical, radiological, and biological risks at work.
  • Gathering samples of harmful substances for the examination.
  • Collecting and examining samples of hazardous chemicals.
  • Encouraging workers to take precautions against dangerous working situations.
  • Investigating accidents to find their causes and how to avoid them in the future.

Work environments for health and safety engineers include offices, factories, and mines. Their work frequently entails extensive fieldwork and travel. Most health and safety engineers work full-time, while others might work overtime or on the weekends in an emergency. Here are some examples of occupational health specialists:

  • Health physicists 
  • Ergonomists 
  • Industrial hygienists 
  • Environmental protection officers 
  • Loss prevention specialists 
Education Needed

A bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety or a related subject is often required for health and safety engineers. Both on-the-job training and an associate’s degree or certificate are common entry points for health and safety engineers.

Average Annual Salary:

Occupational Health and Safety Specialists (and Technicians) make $74,870 per year on average according to a 2022 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Salary Range: 

Salary.com estimates that the base pay for health and safety engineers is between $70,895 and $80,399 annually. The variance is commonly due to education level. Safety engineers have some of the highest-paying public health jobs on our list.

Public Health Nurse

Public Health Nurse

Public health nursing fills an important role in public health systems. They coordinate and provide compassionate health care. They also provide health education about the prevention and treatment of health conditions. They often work on planning and public policy. To avoid issues and offer access to care, they create and support community-based systems and initiatives. Providing direct patient care is also a function of many nurses in public health. Public health nurses are sometimes also referred to as community health nurses.

The duties and responsibilities of public health nurses vary depending on where they work. Some typical functions of the job include:

  • Promoting access to health care for marginalized areas with federal and local authorities.
  • STI treatment and education.
  • Assisting in community leadership amid crisis.
  • Evaluating a population’s requirements for physical, nutritional, psychological, and mental health.
  • Tracking patterns and identifying dangers that affect certain populations.
  • Educating the local population on the different types of healthcare services available.
  • Administering medications.
  • Identifying instances of violence or abuse and taking action.

Nurses in public health typically work in hospital settings. They can also work within companies providing occupational health services. Some RNs work in physicians’ offices, nursing homes, or home health services. Others work in outpatient clinics and schools. Government agencies and federal agencies and health organizations often need nurses who specialize in public health on their staff.

Education Needed

According to Zippia.com, nurses in public health usually study nursing, nursing science or public health. 60% of nurses in public health hold a bachelor’s degree. And 25% of them hold an associate degree. To work as a nurse in public health, an unrestricted RN license is needed. The common path to becoming an RN is to start work as a certified nurse assistant (CNA) while in school. Many CNAs go on to become licensed practitioner nurses (LPNs) and then an RN. Experience in the field is a large component of gaining employment as a public health nurse. A master’s public health degree or one in nursing science is commonly sought after by employers.

Average Annual Salary:

Nurses in public health average an annual salary of $58,019 as reported by Zippia in 2022. Nurses do not have the highest-paying public health jobs on our list. But they typically have great benefits and can move up the ranks with additional education.

Salary Range: 

$42,000 to $79,000 is the reported salary range for this occupation. The pay rate is mainly determined by experience and time in the field, but location can also play a factor.

Health & Safety Inspector

Health & Safety Inspector

Health and safety inspectors assess unsafe hygienic issues in workplaces and recommend remedies. They aid businesses in ensuring the security of their customers and workers. They are sometimes called occupational health specialists. Depending on the rules set by federal agencies and government agencies, they evaluate working conditions. Following an inspection, health and safety inspectors will write a report for management. They also provide advice on how to deal with any health and safety hazards. Those wanting this occupation should have an interest in workplace health and safety. 

A health and safety inspector assesses working conditions across a range of sectors. They may work for commercial businesses or public organizations. They may also work for large firms with several properties like care facilities. They may work out in the field, but often operate in an office environment. Health and safety inspectors often work for the following types of companies:

  • Construction
  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Safety consulting firms
  • Restaurants
  • Mines
  • Manufacturers
  • Local authorities
  • Warehouses
Education Needed

Most health & safety inspectors complete a four-year bachelor’s degree program in occupational health, safety, or a closely related field. A master’s public health degree may also be necessary for some health & safety inspector positions. 

Average Annual Salary:

As of an August 29, 2022 report by salary.com, the annual wage for a public health inspector was $51,536. Health inspection is not one of the highest-paying public health jobs we’ve listed, but with experience, you can move into higher-paying roles.

Salary Range: 

According to Zippia, the salary range for public health inspectors can be anywhere from $31,000 to $83,000.

Environmental Health & Safety

Environmental Health & Safety

A director of environmental health ensures safe personal and public living conditions. They assess the impact of people on the environment and the environment on communities. They may work directly with lawmakers and affect decisions on land usage. They also help in rectifying toxins in the soil, water, and air. 

Protecting workers, clients, and the environment is the main goal of an environmental health and safety director. Some examples of what they do are:

  • Establish rules and procedures for managing and communicating hazardous materials. This includes emergency evacuation plans.
  • Recommend changes to adhere to agency specifications for reducing hazards to the building and its occupants.
  • Oversee occupational health and medical disability programs.
  • To provide precise IH hazard monitoring during emergency response, use area-monitoring devices.
  • Create programs for employee education and training to lower facility and employee risk factors.

This occupation has a projected growth of 8 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the national average. This is due to public concern about environmental hazards. It is also due to increased demand on the environment by the growing population.

Education Needed

Environmental health and safety directors usually hold a bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, ecology, or life sciences. Many pursue a graduate public health degree with a focus on management or the environment. Their education includes fieldwork and lab work through a university or internship. 

Average Annual Salary:

A director of environmental health and safety’s average salary in 2022 is $90,089 per year. This was reported by salary.com in May of 2021. That makes it one of the best-paying public health jobs on our list.

Salary Range:

Depending on location and education, the average annual salary for this occupation is between $125,748 and $163,707.

Environmental Scientists and Specialists

Environmental Scientists and Specialists

Environmental scientists and specialists work to protect human health and the environment. They do this through their expertise in natural sciences. Environmental scientists analyze environmental problems and develop solutions. They safeguard the environment and public health by applying their understanding of the natural sciences. And they have some of the top-paying public health jobs on our list.

Some environmental scientists go into a specific branch of science based on their interests. Numerous specialty choices are available, including: 

  • Geographic information systems
  • Climate change analysis and mitigation 
  • Environmental health and safety 
  • Environmental restoration planning 
  • Environmental policy and regulation 

Public awareness of the health effects of environmental hazards and increased environmental demands from the population fuels growth in this field. The demand for environmental scientists is projected to grow much faster than average through 2029.

Education Needed

For the majority of entry-level positions, environmental scientists and experts must possess a bachelor’s degree in natural science or a discipline closely connected to science. Bachelor’s degree holders who just graduated are frequently hired as research assistants. You might require a master’s degree to go forward in the profession past an entry-level career.

Average Annual Salary:

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the 2021 median pay for environmental scientists and specialists to be $76,530.

Salary Range: 

The salary range typically falls between $62,109 and $80,238 depending on the degree held and location.

Epidemiologist

Epidemiologist

Epidemiologists investigate the distribution patterns and causes of health-related events in populations. This includes the study of environmental exposures. It also includes infectious and non-infectious diseases, injuries, natural disasters, and terrorism. They specialize in understanding the causes of diseases. Epidemiologists conduct experiments and study available data. This helps them develop guidelines to promote positive health outcomes. 

The research of novel diseases and the search for more effective treatments for already-existing ones are both priorities for epidemiologists. 

Some common areas of study for epidemiologists include:

  • Mental health
  • Infectious diseases
  • Environmental Health
  • Chronic diseases
  • Public health preparedness

Epidemiologists can expect good employment possibilities, with an above-average project growth in this field between 2019 to 2029. Much of this growth is due to the covid pandemic and what we learned from it.

Education Needed

To become an epidemiologist, a master’s degree is required. Most epidemiologists have a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree. Some continue to complete a doctoral degree in epidemiology or a medical degree. 

Average Annual Salary:

According to Salary.com, the median yearly wage in 2022 for epidemiologists is $102,618. That makes this role one of the best-paying public health jobs we’ve uncovered.

Salary Range: 

Pay is usually determined by education level and location with the salary range between $74,694 and $141,399.

Orthotist and Prosthetist

Orthotist and Prosthetist

Orthotists and prosthetists design medical devices that are supportive of individual patients. This essential public health job keeps people with orthopedic conditions mobile and healthy. Some orthotists also perform prosthetic work and are referred to as prosthetists. Key responsibilities in this field include:

  • Creating and modifying a range of orthotic devices for patients.
  • Using computer programs and simple hand tools to make designs
  • Consulting with doctors, patients, and store owners.

Orthotists and prosthetists may work in manufacturing. They also might work in clinics, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, or patients’ homes. Some of them operate in facilities that create, alter, and fix prosthetic limbs and medical support equipment. Growth in this field is projected at 17% between 2021 and 2031, which is much faster than other occupations. The growth is fueled by the aging population with diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Education Needed

A master’s degree and certification are typically required to become an orthotist or prosthetist. Residency and certification are required for both orthotists and prosthetists. The number of states with licensing regulations is growing. Along with a master’s, a bachelor’s degree in orthotics is needed. It should be from a program approved by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). This includes 1,900 hours of clinical experience. Specific criteria may differ.

Average Annual Salary:

The 2021 median pay for orthotists and prosthetists was $75,440 per year per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Salary Range: 

This occupation has a salary range from $37,856 to $101,500. Pay rate depends mostly on education and experience, however location also plays a role. With experience, these professionals can have some of the best-paying public health jobs around.

Agricultural and Food Scientist

Agricultural and Food Scientist

Agricultural and food scientists are important players in the field of public health. Their role is to maintain and expand food supplies. They often work for food manufacturing companies. They also work on farms, food processing plants, and research facilities. They may also work for federal agencies or government agencies. Their goal is to improve food quality and inspection standards. They research to enhance farmers’ practices for tending to crops and livestock. Some work in food production, making sure that machinery, food, and supplies are safe.

Agricultural and food scientists can carry any of the following titles: 

  • Animal scientists
  • Soil scientists
  • Food technologists
  • Food scientists
  • Plant scientists

The projected job growth for this occupation is 8% by 2021. This is higher than the national average. A large factor in this growth is the interest in food sourcing and health.

Education Needed

Agricultural food scientists must hold a bachelor’s degree from a land-grant university. The degree can be in agricultural science, biology, chemistry, or a related discipline. Many continue to get their master’s or doctoral degrees. 

Average Annual Salary:

A 2021 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states the average annual salary for agricultural and food scientists to be $74,160.

Salary Range: 

“The base salary for Agricultural Scientist ranges from $58,917 to $91,128,” according to Salary.com. Education, certifications, specialty skills, and experience can affect the pay rate. That means it has the potential to be one of the highest-paying public health jobs listed.

Health Communications Specialist

Health Communications Specialist

A health communications specialist is a media relations expert. They are trained to work in healthcare and medical organizations. They contribute to the development of critical health messages to specific persons or groups. They assist in promoting awareness of important health issues. These include choosing a healthy lifestyle, accessing medical care, and preventing illness. To improve health, health communication specialists often run seminars or advertising campaigns. They may also do the duties of a health services manager. Their role overlaps in many ways with that of a health services manager. And some companies combine the roles of health services manager and health communications specialist into one role.

Health communication specialists often work for government agencies or in fields related to public health. Some sectors they work in can include:

  • Healthcare organizations
  • Government agencies at the local, state, or federal level
  • Non-profit advocacy groups
  • Public health arenas such as hospitals or medical clinics
  • Pharmaceutical manufacturers
  • Large businesses seeking to promote wellness or health initiatives
  • Public relation firms
  • Health insurance companies
Education Needed

A bachelor’s degree is often the minimum educational requirement for a health communication expert. Specialists in health communication typically major in psychology, communication, or public health. 

Average Annual Salary:

Health communication specialists make a yearly average of $49,493 according to Zippia.com in 2022.

Salary Range: 

Those in the lower 10% of the health communication spectrum earn approximately $34,000 per year, while those in the top 10% earn about $71,000.

Dietitian

Dietitian

Dietitians (and Nutritionists) promote health in the community. They do this by advising people on food choices to promote wellness. They also work with individuals to meet their health goals. Dieticians are nutrition experts. They translate the science of nutrition into understandable information about food and health.

Dietitians can work with populations or treat individuals. They may work in hospitals, nursing homes, cafeterias, and government agencies. A dietitian’s regular tasks could include:

  • Estimating nutritional needs by measuring blood chemistry, body temperature, mobility, and other health.
  • Instructing customers on how to achieve and maintain health by practicing healthy eating habits.
  • Designing menus and adjusting recipes to satisfy customer requests.
  • Presenting group sessions to a range of groups, including kids and patient groups
  • Guiding patients regarding the benefits of therapeutic diets and nutritional treatments.
  • Educating athletes about how food may improve performance and injury recovery.
  • Visiting individuals in their homes, including nursing homes.
  • Teaching other medical and non-medical professionals about problems with diet and nutrition.
  • Delivering nutrition-related components of health promotion efforts through visits to schools and communities.
  • Advising the food and drug industries.
Education Needed

A bachelor’s degree is the bare minimum needed to become a registered dietitian (RD). Yet, secondary schooling is not necessary to work as ordinary dietitians. Dietitians should look for schools approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).

Average Annual Salary:

The 2021 media pay for dieticians and nutritionists was $61,650 according to a report by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Salary Range: 

The salary range for this occupation depends largely on the specific job title and environment worked in. It can range from $60,614 to $73,172. Dietitians have one of the most rewarding and highest-paying public health jobs we’ve found.

Health Education Specialists

Health Education Specialists

Health education specialists develop and implement strategies to improve public health. They do this by teaching behaviors that promote health and wellness in the community. For both public and commercial health education initiatives, they are crucial. These professionals may also be called public health educators.

Health education specialists work in settings where they can help people have access to the tools they need for wellness and health. They work in a range of places, including hospitals, nonprofits, and government agencies. Most public health educators and health education specialists work full-time. The growth rate for public health educators is much higher than the national average. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 12% increase from 2021 to 2031.

Education Needed

Specialists in health education need at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field. The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) offers certification after a degree is obtained.  

Average Annual Salary:

A May 2021 report by The US Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the average annual salary of public health educators and health education specialists to be $64,930.

Salary Range: 

Recruiter.com states: “A Health Education Specialist can earn average salaries of between $28,010 and $70,790 depending on tenure and industry expertise.”

Public Health Social Worker

Public Health Social Worker

Public health social workers investigate, prevent and intervene in health problems harming communities. By gathering and analyzing data, they can see wider patterns in battling health challenges. They use this information to aid individuals who suffer from sickness. They also offer assistance to their families and help communities that have been hard-hit by health challenges. They may work with individuals and families. They also work with communities on widespread health problems and the social challenges that may come with them. Public social health workers often do advocacy work with local governments and individuals through community organizations.

Social workers in public health typically offer the following services:

  • Assessment
  • Short-term education and counseling
  • Service coordination
  • Advocacy
  • Group work
  • Consultation and community resource linkage
  • Service coordination
  • Interventions in local/state emergencies related to behavior health/crisis management

Public health social workers can work in agencies, homes, hospitals, and hospice care facilities because of their broad scope. During the 2019-2029 decade, the number of employed healthcare social workers is expected to grow by 14%, which is much higher than other occupations’ average growth rate.

Education Needed

An entry-level public health social worker needs a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW). Many positions require a master’s in social work (MSW). Master’s level programs require supervised practicums or an internship to graduate. Licenses are required by each state’s regulatory social work board for public health social workers.

Average Annual Salary:

Public Health Social Workers in 2022 in the United States earn an average of $65,856 a year, according to ZipRecruiter. Social workers don’t have the highest-paying public health jobs, but there is room for growth.

Salary Range: 

The salary range for this occupation is wide, starting at $23,000 and going up to $133,000. The pay rate depends on location, experience, and skill level.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Counselors

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Counselors

Substance abuse and mental health counselors provide treatment for substance abuse. They also treat mental health or behavior issues. Their main function is to counsel clients who suffer from problems associated with dependency. The disorders include alcoholism, drug addictions, and eating disorders. These professionals also help with behavioral problems caused by substance abuse. It is the goal of the substance abuse counselor to help clients achieve a full recovery from addiction. Substance abuse counselors need to have patience, listening skill, and empathy. It is not uncommon for recovered addicts to enter this field and succeed well.

Substance abuse counselors can work in various settings. Some of these can include:

  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Community health treatment centers
  • Prisons 
  • Private practice
  • Mental health centers
  • Medical clinics
  • Substance rehabilitation programs

The projected growth rate for this occupation from 2021 to 2031 is 22% (much higher than the national average). This is due to the recent realization and focuses on mental health.

Education Needed

Entry-level positions for counselors in this field require a bachelor’s degree. Private practice workers need a master’s degree. They also need 2,000-4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience to gain their required license. Licensing requirements vary by state. 

Average Annual Salary:

$48,520 per year is the median pay for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors. This is according to The US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 data.

Salary Range: 

Salary.com reports the salary range for this occupation to be from $39,454 to $56,982. The biggest factor in the pay rate is education. While counselors don’t have the highest-paying public health jobs on the list, this career can be very rewarding.

Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and Paramedic

Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and Paramedic

EMTs and paramedics respond to emergency calls. They provide medical care and transportation to medical facilities. They are the first to arrive and offer people in crisis or accident circumstances the most basic medical care. EMTs and paramedics usually work with ambulances to transport patients. Some of their duties may include:

  • Evaluating patients.
  • Giving medical workers crucial medical information regarding patients after transport.
  • Providing patients with first aid or life support.
  • Repairing any worn-out medical equipment and cleaning it.
  • Completing reports on the care administered.

EMTs often work full-time schedules and are available for 12- or 24-hour shifts on evenings and weekends. Additionally, they respond to a variety of crises while working both indoors and outdoors.

Education Needed

Paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) often finish a postsecondary school degree. EMTs and paramedics must hold a license; the standards vary by state.

Average Annual Salary:

According to Salary.com, “The average Emergency Medical Technician salary in the United States is $35,830 as of August 29, 2022.”

Salary Range: 

Typically, the salary range is between $31,998 and $40,638. However, many factors can affect this, such as education, certifications, additional skills, and the number of years in the field. 

Health & Wellness Manager

These days, companies understand that healthy employees make for a happy workforce. And many of these organizations are beginning to hire professional health and wellness managers. As a health and wellness manager, you will design programs within a company or organization that keep people healthy and well. Successful health and wellness managers are crucial in organizing, planning, and overseeing medical and health services. So, what does a health and wellness manager do?

The duties of health and wellness managers can be as varied as the organizations they work for. However, here are a few examples of what you might do as a health and wellness manager:

  • Develop company fitness and nutrition programs.
  • Coordinate clinics for health screenings or vaccinations.
  • Oversee counseling programs for employees struggling with mental health issues.
  • Create events and presentations to educate others on how to stay healthy.
  • Oversee the medical and health services of a company.
  • Track health and wellness management programs to see how effective they are.
  • Manage budgets for the health and wellness manager’s programs. 

If you’re looking for a job in healthcare where you don’t work directly with patients, becoming a health and wellness manager might be perfect for you. 

Education Needed

You’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree to get started in this public health role. A bachelor’s program focused on some aspect of health and wellness management is a great starting point. However, health and wellness managers with the highest pay rates usually have a master’s degree. This could be a program that specifically trains students to be health and wellness managers, or a general public health degree. 

Average Annual Salary:

According to Salary.com, the average annual income for a health and wellness manager is $104,880. That makes it one of the highest paid public health jobs.

Salary Range: 

The salary range for health and wellness managers can fall anywhere between $31,193 and $178,566. Pay depends significantly on the company or organization your work for. And it also can vary with experience and skill level.  

Frequently Asked Questions About Public Health Careers

Why pursue one of these high paying jobs in public health?

The field of public health is growing as people become more health-conscious. Public health protects people and communities from disease, illness, or injury. Professionals in public health confront health issues and help solve health-related problems. This can include tasks such as:

  • Helping people secure health care access
  • Infectious disease control measures 
  • Reducing and removing environmental hazards
  • Preventing injury at home and in the workplace
  • Advocating against violence and substance abuse

Public health workers come from a variety of educational backgrounds. And these professionals can specialize in a wide range of fields within public health. For many people, a public health career is both rewarding and lucrative. 

Is public health a growing field?

Public health is a growing field, with all healthcare occupations projected to grow 15% through 2029. Public health is actually growing much faster than average for all occupations. The projected growth in the number of jobs in public health during that time is 2.4 million new jobs, more than any other occupation group. This growth projection is due mainly to the aging population. This leads to increased demand for services related to public health. 

Where do public health professionals work?

Public health professionals may work in public or private sectors. In the public sector, public health professionals work in local, state, and federal health departments. In addition, they may work in public hospitals, schools, universities, or other public organizations. 

People working in non-profit medical and health services may work as health advocates or on health policy. They may do research for various organizations. They can work for groups focusing on an individual disease or issue, like diabetes. 

The private sector includes pharmaceutical companies, health insurance companies, and private hospitals. In addition, public health workers can be found in nearly every field worldwide. 

Do people in the field of public health really make a difference in today’s world?

Public health initiatives in the last century have added 25 years to life expectancy in the United States. There are more medical and health services than ever before. The CDC reports public health’s most significant breakthroughs in the last 100 years to include:

  • Safety in the workplace
  • Infectious disease control
  • Improved food safety 
  • Better mother-baby health
  • Decrease in heart disease and stroke
  • Improved motor vehicle safety
  • Access to immunizations
  • Better family planning and birth control
  • Cleaner water
  • Health education
  • Smoking cessation

Although much has been done in public health, much work remains to make the next century a healthier place to live.

How do I choose a field for high paying public health jobs?

Aspiring public health workers have such a broad choice of direction in medical and health services. Take time to see what public health careers align with your personality traits. For example, people in the infectious disease field may enjoy coping with crises and resolving problems. On the other hand, some areas of public health require a focus on long-term results, requiring patience. Shadow public health professionals to get a flavor for what they do and see if it appeals to your interests and personality. 

What is the professional organization for public health?

The organization for the field of public health is the American Public Health Association (APHA). This organization’s vision to “create the healthiest nation in one generation” is reflected in everything they do. APHA champions the health of all people and all communities. 

APHA influences public health policy and has nearly 150 years of perspective on public health. APHA’s mission is to achieve equity in health status and promote and protect the public’s health. APHA’s values and work are represented in over 40 nations and include all public health disciplines and medical and health services.

NPCO Staff, Updated October 2022

This concludes our ranking of the highest-paying public health jobs.