7 Highest Paying Public Health Industry Jobs & Career

December 7, 2023

Public health officials usually work with the city, state, or national governments to provide important healthcare services to a group of people. Their job also includes imparting educational and preventive health services and leading public health initiatives.

The role of public health officials is critical for the community’s overall well-being and health outcomes. They identify public health threats, promote healthy lifestyles, detect, prevent, and respond to infectious diseases, identify health disparities, and research disease and injury prevention.

Global health challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic and fast-paced lifestyles have created a high demand for healthcare professionals, including those who work as public healthcare officials. According to the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook (BLS), the overall employment in healthcare professions will grow at 13% or 2 million jobs between 2021 and 2031.

This article explains various career options in public healthcare and the steps to building a successful career. Know the average salary and public health degree programs to start a career in these fields.

Diverse Career Options in Public Health

From the satisfaction of serving the community to getting a financially rewarding and stable career, there are many reasons to be a public health official. Here are some of the career options and education requirements for public health workers:

Medical and Health Services Manager

To handle public health issues, medical and health services managers plan, coordinate, and manage services in a healthcare facility, clinic, or government department. You must stay updated with healthcare regulations, laws, and technologies. Your other job roles may include staff training, monitoring budgets and performance, and setting team goals. This job role will demand good communication and organizational skills.

  • Median salary$101,340 per year ($48.72 per hour)
  • Job outlook – 28% growth between 2021 and 2031
  • Entry-level educational requirements – Bachelor’s degree


Epidemiologists work with federal agencies to investigate the causes and patterns of community disease outbreaks, disorders, and injuries. The goal is to use research and education to design a health policy that helps reduce their occurrence.

Epidemiologists have expertise in various domains, such as environmental well-being, infectious diseases, genetics, maternal care, psychological wellness, and emergency response.

  • Median salary$78,830 per year ($37.90 per hour)
  • Job outlook – 26% growth between 2021 and 2031
  • Entry-level educational requirements – Master’s degree


Biostatisticians come under the larger umbrella of mathematician and statistician professions. Their job is to answer critical public health and medicine questions using statistical analysis. They answer questions concerning:

  • Efficacy of a new prescription drug
  • Harmful effects of a certain chemical on the body
  • How long will a pandemic last?
  • Causes of a particular type of cancer

A biostatistician may be an excellent avenue if you enjoy working with numbers and are keen on research-based job roles.

  • Median salary$96,280 per year ($46.29 per hour)
  • Job outlook – 31% growth between 2021 and 2031
  • Entry-level educational requirements – Master’s degree

Hospital Administrator

Hospital administrators recruit physicians and other healthcare experts, create budgets, and liaise with the various medical services to effectively manage the facility. Their role encompasses the proficient and budget-conscious management of hospital operations, all the while upholding paramount patient well-being.

The role of a hospital administrator usually necessitates extensive years of experience within a medical establishment. Some job roles under this category are assistant hospital manager, medical and health services manager, and health services administrator.

  • Median salary$119,450 per year ($57.43 per hour)
  • Job outlook – 28% growth between 2021 and 2031
  • Entry-level educational requirements – Bachelor’s degree

Clinical Trials Scientist

Scientists involved in clinical trials conduct medical investigations within diverse institutions, encompassing hospitals, pharmaceutical firms, and governmental bodies. Scientists typically work in laboratories researching better ways to identify and treat diseases.

This area of work requires advanced education. Some of the sample job roles of a clinical trials scientist are clinical research scientist in oncology and senior federal research scientist.

  • Median salary$95,310 per year ($45.82 per hour)
  • Job outlook – 17% growth between 2021 and 2031
  • Entry-level educational requirements – Doctoral or professional degree

Healthcare Consultant

Healthcare consultants assess medical companies to enhance their operational output. They analyze and interpret data to achieve this and find ways to increase efficiency and productivity. They either work as independent consultants or contract employees. Some job roles in this area include behavioral health consultant, healthcare economics consultant, and health navigation consultant.

  • Median salary$93,000 per year ($44.71 per hour)
  • Job outlook – 11% growth between 2021 and 2031
  • Entry-level educational requirements – Bachelor’s degree

U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps

You can work with the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, a 6,000+ strong workforce of qualified and trained public health professionals. They help deliver the nation’s public health promotion and advance public health science.

Medical and health professionals fight disease, conduct research, and deliver care for patients in marginalized and underserved populations across the U.S.

Some of the opportunities you can look at the public health organization are:

  • Clinical social worker
  • Clinical psychologist
  • Environmental health specialist
  • Health information management specialist
  • Clinical laboratory scientist
  • Registered nurse (RN)

Explore the opportunities in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

Steps to Building a Successful Public Health Career

A career in public health is financially rewarding and stable. If you want to serve the community while earning a steady income, this could be your right choice. However, choosing the right career path within this domain and pursuing it can be daunting. This section explains the basic steps to build a successful career in public health.

Gaining Practical Experience Through Internships

Once you have the necessary educational foundation, develop the skills through hands-on experiences. You can get these in internships, part-time jobs, and volunteering opportunities in a relevant organization.

This practical experience will enrich your resume and build a network in the field. You can consider gaining experience in nonprofit organizations, public health departments, hospitals, and community medical centers.

Networking with Professionals and Organizations

You will get an initial opportunity to make connections during the volunteering and internships. You can take this further by attending conferences, seminars, and workshops where you meet individuals that share your passion. These individuals are already in the industry and can provide you with advice, mentorship, and even job opportunities.

You can also consider joining professional organizations such as the American Public Health Association (APHA) and the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) to network further and gain access to valuable study resources.

Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning

It is important to keep yourself up to date with the developments in public health services. To advance your career, you can pursue a master’s in public health or doctoral degrees in related fields. For example, a Master of Public Health (MPH) or a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) can open avenues for leadership and specialist positions with higher wages.

You can take several online, part-time, or executive programs to advance your education if you are currently employed. You can also take several certificate programs to specialize in a given field.


A career in public health puts you at the forefront of human health and the health of communities. It allows you to work with private companies and government agencies, impacting many people depending on whether you work in a city, state, or national agency.

Whether you are interested in providing medical care, statistics, research, or administration, public healthcare services have something to offer. While you may work extended hours and the role is critical, you get the satisfaction of earning well while impacting the lives of people in the public health field.


Is public health a good career in the U.S.?

Yes, public healthcare in the U.S. has a wide range of work opportunities with attractive annual salaries. The mean wage of public healthcare managers in the U.S. is $101,340 as of 2021, with a 28% growth in jobs until 2031.

What are the key skills needed for success in public health?

Other than getting the right education, you need the following skills to be successful in public healthcare:

  • Analytics and assessment
  • Planning and developing public health policies
  • Financial management
  • Communication
  • Leadership

What are some examples of public health job roles?

Some examples of job roles in public health are:

  • Immunization nurse
  • Dietician
  • Health and safety officer
  • Environmental health officer
  • Occupational health nurse
  • Public health nurse
  • Pharmacist
  • Sexual health nurse
  • General practitioner
  • Epidemiologist
  • Health commissioner
  • Health communications specialist
  • Health informatics specialist
  • Drug abuse prevention specialist
  • Water quality specialist

What challenges can I expect to face in a public health career?

Public health careers present noteworthy challenges like extended work durations and the amplified consequences of errors on public health initiatives. Given the involvement in responsibilities such as statistical data analysis, research, public policy formulation, and community-wide execution, a single erroneous choice can have far-reaching effects on a large population.

How can I maintain a healthy work-life balance in public healthcare?

Some of the best practices you can follow to maintain a healthy work-life balance in public healthcare are:

  • Make time for your own physical, mental, and emotional health.
  • Take breaks during work.
  • Identify priorities at work and schedule the important ones first.
  • Avoid activities that waste time.