Public Health Salary

Discover what you could expect to earn with an undergraduate or graduate degree in public health. Explore other public health occupations and their salaries, and the requirements you'll need to meet to pursue those jobs.

Highest Paying Public Health Jobs

Public health encompasses a variety of careers, from medical specialists and researchers to policy analysts and health educators. All these professionals have a common goal: keeping communities safe and healthy. With a median salary of more than $182,000, infectious diseases specialist - a physician who diagnoses and treats patients suffering from diseases like HIV/AIDS, tick-borne infections and tuberculosis - ranks among the highest paying public health jobs. Other top-paying jobs revolve around public health administration, public health research and government lobbying for public health needs.

Here are the median annual salaries of some occupations in public health:

Job Median Salary
Infectious diseases specialist $182,326
Professor $85,855
Public health director $81,742
Biostatistician $75,188
Lobbyist $71,879
Epidemiologist $69,660
Public health analyst $60,315
Public health nurse $56,467
Public health educator $44,660
Mental health counselor $40,354

It's important to note that while these jobs are all within the realm of public health, some of them require one or more degrees in a field other than public health. For example, to work as a public health nurse, you'll need a nursing degree, while a mental health counseling career requires at least a master's degree in counseling. And if you decide that infectious disease specialist is the job for you, be prepared to complete medical school, followed by a residency and fellowship.

Bachelor's in Public Health Salary

Those with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health have an annual salary of $49,000 a year. You'll find that many jobs in this field require a graduate degree, but with a bachelor's degree, you can find entry-level work as a lobbyist, public health educator or health policy research assistant.

Let's look at salary figures for these positions:

Job Median Salary
Lobbyist $71,879
Public health educator $44,660
Health policy research assistant $42,706

Master's in Public Health Salary

Those with a Master of Public Health make $62,000 per year, although your earning potential is much higher in some careers, such as public health director and biostatistician. Holding a master's degree also can be an advantage for some of the jobs we discussed earlier, including lobbyist and public health educator.

Let's look at a few master's in public health jobs and their salaries:

Job Median Salary
Public health director $81,742
Biostatistician $75,188
Epidemiologist $62,389
Public health analyst $60,315

Ph.D. In Public Health Salary

The average salary for individuals with a Doctor of Public Health degree is much higher than that for a career with a bachelor's or master's degree. DPH degree holders average $89,000 per year. A Ph.D. in Public Health can help increase your chances of finding work as a public health director, biostatistician or epidemiologist, and also can prepare you for a career as a postsecondary professor, which has a median annual salary of $85,855.

Public Health Analyst Salary

The median salary for public health analysts is $60,315 per year, though you could make more than $96,000 or less than $45,000 in this career. As a public health analyst, your job duties would center on identifying and analyzing public health issues and developing long-term solutions for those issues. This might involve creating and coordinating public health programs as well as communicating information about health issues to the public.

Public health analysts, like all policy analysts, usually have at least a master's degree in public health or a more general field, like public policy or political science. However, you might be able to find work in this field with a bachelor's degree and extensive work experience.

Public Health Nurse Salary

Public health nurses earn a median annual salary of $56,467, with the 10th-90th percentile earning a salary range of $41,644 to $83,000. In this role, you'd work with individuals or communities to promote health and wellness, reduce health risks and prevent the spread of illness and disease. Potential employers include federal health agencies, local and state health departments, schools, and public health clinics, among others.

You'll need to earn an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing (most employers prefer the latter) and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to qualify for state licensure as a registered nurse. You also might opt to pursue a master's or doctoral degree in public health nursing.

Public Health Educator Salary

Public health educators earn a median salary of $44,660 annually, with some earning $30,800 or less while others earned $61,800 or more. A health educator's job usually entails creating programs that promote healthy lifestyles, disseminating health education information to community members, and developing and conducting training programs for health care workers.

You'll need a bachelor's degree in health education, public health or a similar field to work as a public health educator, and some employers give preference to those with a master's degree. You also might benefit from pursuing the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential offered by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing Inc. You must hold at least a bachelor's degree and pass an exam to secure this certification.

Public Health Administration Salary

The median annual salary for public health directors is $81,742; however, you could make more than $122,000 or less than $54,000 a year. As a health director you could head up public health programs by developing and managing public health outreach programs and services as well as establishing a budget. You'd also oversee staff members charged with administering public health programs and services and ensure those programs and services comply with state and national regulations.

While you might get hired as a public health director with only a bachelor's degree, most employers seek job candidates with a master's or doctoral degree in public health along with previous experience in the field.

Epidemiologist Salary

As an epidemiologist, you could expect to make a median salary of $62,389 a year. The salary range for the 10th-90th percentile for this occupation is $43,500 to $100,300. An epidemiologist's job duties involve investigating public health issues. This includes collecting and analyzing data about diseases and injuries to determine patterns, trends, and causes. As an epidemiologist, you might work for a federal, state or local government entity, in private industry or for a nonprofit organization.

You'll need at least a master's degree, usually in public health with a focus in epidemiology, to work as an epidemiologist. However, to work in a clinical capacity, you might need both an epidemiology degree and a medical degree.

Mental Health Counseling Salary

Mental health counselors earn a median salary of $40,354 a year, with the potential to earn more than $56,286; the lower end of the salary range for this profession is $30,449 or less. As a mental health counselor, you would work with individuals or groups (including couples and families) to address various mental conditions, including stress and anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts, as well as relationship problems.

You'll likely need a master's degree to work as a mental health counselor, though required education varies by state. You'll also need to earn state licensure; in addition to meeting education requirements, you'll usually need to complete a supervised clinical experience and pass an exam.

Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling Salary

The average annual salary for those with a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling is $46,000. A master's program in mental health counseling can prepare you to work as a substance abuse counselor (which has a median annual salary of $38,526) or behavioral disorder counselor (which offers a median annual salary of $47,500). To work in private practice as either a substance abuse or behavioral disorder counselor, you'll need state licensure.

Doctorate in Mental Health Counseling Salary

The average salary with a doctorate in mental health counseling is $75,000 a year. At the doctoral level, mental health counseling programs usually award a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology. In addition to working as a counselor, with this degree, you might find work as a college professor or, with proper state licensure, as a psychologist. As a postsecondary professor, you'd earn a median salary of $85,855 a year, while psychologists make a median annual salary of $74,469.

All statistics come from PayScale.com (2018).