What Are the Highest-Paying Public Health Jobs?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Discover 10 high-paying public health jobs and how to begin your career in the public health field.

[Featured image] A nurse educator, one of the highest-paying public health jobs, speaks to students in a classroom.

A public health degree can qualify you for jobs that help provide health resources to individuals around you. Public health jobs are in demand in the United States to study diseases and other threats to human health, develop safety measures to protect the population from health crises, and educate others on important health topics. 

This article will explore the highest-paying public health jobs, job outlooks, and the requirements to enter the field. You can also look at the daily tasks and responsibilities of each role and the skills you’ll need to succeed in these positions.

Read more: 9 Jobs You Can Get with a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health

What are public health jobs?

Public health professionals study various sciences and work to ensure public health and safety. Below is a list of some of the high-paying public health jobs and how to qualify for them. 

10 high-paying public health jobs

1. Environmental scientist

Median annual salary (US): $76,480 [1]

Job outlook (between 2022-2032): 6 percent growth [1]

Requirements: Bachelor’s degree

Environmental scientists study the environment and use their research and findings to help protect the ecosystem and human health. As an environmental scientist, your research may include climate change, pollution, or toxic waste management. You may also assist in instructing others on how to care for the environment.

To become an environmental scientist, you need a bachelor’s degree in environmental science or a related natural science field. As an environmental scientist, you’ll need strong research and analytical skills. To boost your resume and stand out to employers, you may also consider pursuing internships and eventually obtaining a master’s degree.

Read more: Environmental Health Careers: What They Are and How to Start

2. Emergency management director

Median annual salary (US): $79,180 [2]

Job outlook (between 2022-2032): 3 percent growth [2]

Requirements: Bachelor’s degree and field experience

Emergency management directors take control of dangerous situations by creating an action plan. These situations include weather-induced disasters or other events that may threaten public safety. In this role, you'll coordinate with various officials, companies, and government agencies to develop procedures and respond to emergencies as they arise.

To become an emergency management director, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in emergency management, security and protective service, or business and some experience in roles that require planning, initiative, and coordination. You must also have strong leadership and communication skills to articulate your action plans clearly. You may start your career as a community volunteer before studying to become an emergency management director.

Read more: What Is an Emergency Management Degree?

3. Biostatistician 

Median annual salary (US): $99,960 [3]

Job outlook (between 2022-2032): 30 percent growth [3]

Requirements: Bachelor’s degree or master’s degree from a school accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) 

Biostatisticians are skilled in math, statistics, and analytics. In this role, your responsibilities include studying biology and public health data. You'll analyze data and share it with other experts to solve problems and inspire change, such as policy change or new approaches to disease treatment.

To begin your career, you need at least a bachelor’s degree in a field such as mathematics or statistics. In addition, pursuing a master’s degree is likely to give you more career opportunities and access to higher-paying biostatistician positions.

Read more: What Is a Biostatistician? Career Guide

4. Health and safety engineer

Median annual salary (US): $100,660 [4]

Job outlook (between 2022-2032): 4 percent growth [4]

Requirements: Bachelor’s degree

As a health and safety engineer, you help create safe working and living environments for others. You evaluate products, procedures, and workplaces to ensure safety measures are taken. Your responsibilities may include confirming facilities meet safety codes, investigating injury reports, and advocating for health and safety concerns.

To become a health and safety engineer, you typically need to obtain a bachelor’s degree with a major in either engineering or environmental health and safety. Look for a program accredited by ABET, formerly the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology.

5. Nursing instructor

Mean annual salary (US): $84,180 [5]

Job outlook (between 2022-2032): 8 percent growth [6]

Requirements: Nursing license and master’s degree

Nursing instructors teach those looking to pursue a career as a registered nurse. As a nursing instructor, you share your knowledge and skills with nursing students through classes and clinical experiences to prepare them for their nursing roles. You may also provide continuing education to nurses already in the field.

To start in this role, you will need a degree in nursing and clinical experience. If you are a registered nurse, you must have taken and passed the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to obtain your nursing license. To become a nurse educator, you need to earn a master’s degree, typically in nursing education.

Read more: What Is a Health Educator?

6. Community service director

Median annual salary (US): $74,240 [7]

Job outlook (between 2022-2032): 9 percent growth [7]

Requirements: Bachelor’s degree

As a community service director, you organize health and well-being programs for community members. These programs may include mental health resources, veteran aid, or services for senior community members. You must have strong coordination and management skills, as your responsibilities include running programs and events, overseeing staff, and evaluating data to determine the effectiveness of programs. 

To become a community service director, employers typically prefer that you have completed a bachelor’s degree in social work or another social services field. However, some roles may require a master’s degree. To stand out to employers, you may benefit from gaining professional experience in social services and public health before becoming a community service director.

7. Epidemiologist

Median annual salary (US): $78,520 [8]

Job outlook (between 2022-2032): 27 percent growth [8]

Requirements: Master’s degree

Epidemiologists study the spread of harmful diseases and research ways to prevent them. As an epidemiologist, you work with other health care professionals to communicate your findings and reduce the occurrence of diseases.

To start this career path, you must study public health, biology, social science, or a similar field. In most cases, you’ll also need a master’s degree. You must have strong research and analytical skills with an ability to collaborate well with others to get the job done and protect public health.

Read more: Epidemiologist: Duties, Salary, and How to Become One

8. Medical and health services manager

Median annual salary (US): $104,830 [9]

Job outlook (between 2022-2032): 28 percent growth [9]

Requirements: Bachelor’s degree and experience

In this role, your responsibilities may include looking out for patients in a hospital or a facility to ensure they receive high-quality care. You also oversee, train, manage, and schedule other health care employees within an organization.

To become a medical and health services manager, you typically need a bachelor’s degree in public health, business, health administration, or nursing. Depending on the institution where you work, employers may prefer a master’s degree in health management, health administration, or a similar field or only require relevant work experience to qualify for the role.

9. Health care consultant

Median annual salary (US): $104,830 [9]

Job outlook (between 2022-2032): 28 percent growth [9]

Requirements: Bachelor’s degree

Health care consultants ensure that organizations such as hospitals, clinics, and other health care facilities operate smoothly and provide sufficient public health services to patients. In this role, you'll work to solve problems, budget finances, and develop strategies and methods for improving public health facilities and the care people receive.

To become a health care consultant, you often need a bachelor’s degree in an area such as public health, nursing, or business. If you’re looking to advance your education, you may go on to receive a master’s degree in health administration, which could present more high-paying career opportunities. Experience in the health care industry is also important.

Read more: What Does a Public Health Consultant Do?

10. Sociologist

Median annual salary (US): $98,590 [10]

Job outlook (between 2022-2032): 5 percent growth [10]

Requirements: Master’s degree or PhD

As a sociologist, your responsibilities include analyzing human social behavior and conducting research studies. You apply what you’ve learned to create reports that showcase your data findings and educate others to help address social problems.

To become a sociologist, you first need to complete a bachelor’s degree in a field related to human behavior before going on to obtain a master’s degree in sociology. Employers typically require a master’s degree or PhD for this public health role.

Skills needed to work in public health

Those who pursue public health jobs commonly possess the following skills:

  • Research: Many public health roles require knowledge and experience researching data and applying the results to real-life situations. As a public health professional, you must be proficient in researching and communicating your findings to other health care professionals.

  • Communication: Public health professionals need strong communication skills to accomplish their goals and lead others to success. Whether managing a public health crisis or leading hospital staff, you must work well with others and clearly articulate your expectations.

  • Problem-solving: As a public health professional, the ability to solve problems quickly and effectively helps you excel. When problems arise, your reliability and timeliness will influence any situation's outcome.

  • Analytical skills: As a public health professional, your role requires you to analyze data and research trends within public health. To do so, you’ll need strong analytical skills and the ability to evaluate the importance and significance of your findings.

You can gain these in-demand public health skills by continuing your education with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a public health major. You may also pursue internships and certificates or certifications specialized in public health, such as the Certified in Public Health credential offered by the National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE).

Read more: What Are Job Skills and Why Do They Matter?

Getting started with Coursera

To begin your career in public health, learn more about the field, or enhance your skills and continue to grow as a professional, consider completing relevant courses. For instance, you can explore Epidemiology: The Basic Science of Public Health offered by The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill or the Foundations of Public Health Practice Specialization offered by Imperial College London, both on Coursera. Upon completing either program, gain a shareable Professional Certificate to include in your resume, CV, or LinkedIn profile.

Article sources


US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Environmental Scientists and Specialists: Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/environmental-scientists-and-specialists.htm#tab-1.” Accessed March 15, 2024.

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