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In a field as multidisciplinary as public health, careers and work environments are diverse. Professionals serve in an array of clinical and administrative roles and come from varying educational backgrounds, from high school graduates to PhDs.

While demand is growing for all kinds of professionals in public health, most top-paying public health careers, including health services management and safety engineering, require a four-year degree. The highest paid public health workers can earn an average of $88,580 to $93,910, especially in administrative or management contexts.

The number and scope of jobs available in public health is expanding. It can be difficult to know where to start and what to expect when you’re looking for your first job in the field. To give you a better idea of your options, we’ve compiled data from the BLS to identify the best paying public health careers by education level. Our brief overviews include average salary ranges, projected job growth and basic requirements. For a full occupational profile, click the BLS source link below each graph.

High School Diploma

Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides

Occupational therapy assistants and aides help patients develop, recover and improve skills needed for daily life. For example, they might help injured workers get back into the workforce or help people with learning disabilities by teaching them skills that allow more independence.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • High School Diploma or Associate

Work Experience Required

  • None

Workplace Environment

  • Hospitals
  • Occupational therapy offices
  • Nursing care facilities

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • On-the-job training
  • Basic Life Support certification
  • CPR certification

Occupational Health and Safety Technicians

Occupational health and safety technicians collect data on safety and health conditions in the workplace. Technicians may work with occupational health and safety specialists in conducting tests and measuring hazards to help prevent harm to workers, property, the environment and the general public.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • High School Diploma

Work Experience Required

  • None

Workplace Environment

  • Mines
  • Factories
  • Offices
  • Hospitals
  • Private firms

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • On-the-job training
  • Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) certification

Health Educators and Community Health Workers

Health educators teach people about behaviors that promote wellness. They develop and implement strategies to improve the health of individuals and communities. Community health workers collect data and discuss health concerns with members of specific populations.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • High School Diploma or Associate

Work Experience Required

  • None

Workplace Environment

  • Government offices
  • Hospitals
  • Ambulatory care facilities

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential exam
  • Continuing education every 5 years

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) provide basic medical care. Duties vary depending on the work setting and the state of licensure; however, LPNs and LVNs typically monitor patients’ care and comfort level, discuss the type of treatment patients are receiving and maintain patient records. They may also collect samples for testing and perform routine laboratory tests.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • High School Diploma or Associate

Work Experience Required

  • None

Workplace Environment

  • Nursing care facilities
  • Hospitals
  • Physician’s offices
  • Home health care services
  • Residential care facilities

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN)
  • State licensure

Agricultural and Food Science Technicians

Agricultural and food science technicians measure and analyze the quality of agricultural products. They may focus on increasing the productivity of crops or they may inspect food during processing to ensure quality and safety. Agricultural and food science technicians may also monitor regulatory compliance for the Food and Drug Administration or the Department of Agriculture.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • High School Diploma or Associate

Work Experience Required

  • None

Workplace Environment

  • Food manufacturing companies
  • Food processing plants
  • Colleges and universities

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • On-the-job training

EMTs and Paramedics

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics care for the sick or injured in emergency medical settings by responding to emergency calls, performing medical services and transporting patients to medical facilities. People’s lives often depend on their quick reactions and competent care. Typically, paramedics provide more extensive care than EMTs, such as giving patients medication or using complex medical equipment.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • High School Diploma or Associate

Work Experience Required

  • None

Workplace Environment

  • Ambulance services
  • Hospitals
  • Home health care services

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians Exam
  • State board licensing

Associate

Registered Nurses

Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, as well as provide advice and emotional support to patients and their families. Registered nurses may work to promote general health by educating the public about the signs and symptoms of disease. They may also run health screenings, immunization clinics, blood drives or other outreach programs.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • Associate

Work Experience Required

  • None

Workplace Environment

  • Hospitals
  • Physicians’ offices
  • Home health care services
  • Nursing homes
  • Government offices

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)
  • State licensure

Environmental Science and Protection Technician

Environmental science and protection technicians conduct laboratory and field tests to monitor the environment and investigate sources of pollution. They often work as a member of a team of scientists, engineers and technicians in other fields to solve complex problems related to environmental degradation and public health.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • Associate

Work Experience Required

  • None

Workplace Environment

  • Scientific and consulting services
  • Local government agencies
  • Testing labs
  • Engineering firms

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • N/A

Bachelor’s

Medical and Health Services Managers

Medical and health services managers, plan, direct and coordinate to improve efficiency and quality in delivering healthcare services. Medical and health services managers must be able to adapt to changes in healthcare laws, public health regulations and technology.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • Bachelor’s

Work Experience Required

  • None

Workplace Environment

  • Hospitals
  • Ambulatory care facilities
  • Nursing homes
  • Government offices

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • State nursing administration license
  • Assisted-living licenses
  • Health information management certification
  • Medical management certification

Health and Safety Engineers

Health and safety engineers develop procedures and design systems to prevent people from getting sick or injured. They combine knowledge of systems engineering with a health and safety background to make sure that chemicals, machinery, software, furniture and other consumer products will not cause harm to people.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • Bachelor’s

Work Experience Required

  • None

Workplace Environment

  • Construction sites
  • Government agencies
  • Technical services offices

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • State licensure
  • Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Professional Engineering (PE) exam

Agricultural Engineer

Agricultural engineers design, test and implement technological advances in the field of agriculture. They work in a variety of areas, including food crops, forestry and aquaculture. Agricultural engineers may work in developing biofuels, improving conservation or finding better ways to process food. They may also provide advice on water quality, issues related to managing pollution and protecting water resources.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • Bachelor’s

Work Experience Required

  • None

Workplace Environment

  • Architectural and engineering firms
  • Food manufacturing companies
  • Government agencies

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • N/A

Chemists and Materials Scientists

Chemists and materials scientists study the chemical structures of various materials to test the quality of manufactured goods, develop new products or enhance existing ones. They determine ways to strengthen and combine materials, as well as develop new substances for use in a variety of products. They may also conduct product testing to ensure that quality and consumer safety standards are met.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • Bachelor’s

Work Experience Required

  • None

Workplace Environment

  • Colleges and universities
  • Research and development labs
  • Computer and electronic product companies
  • Pharmaceutical and medical manufacturing companies

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • N/A

Occupational Health and Safety Specialists

Occupational health and safety specialists analyze many types of occupational environments and procedures. They inspect workplaces for adherence to regulations regarding safety, health and the environment. They may also design programs to prevent disease or injury to workers and damage to the environment.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • Bachelor’s

Work Experience Required

  • None

Workplace Environment

  • Government agency offices and in the field
  • Inspecting potentially hazardous environments

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • On-the-job training

Microbiologists

Microbiologists study microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi and some types of parasites. They try to understand how these organisms live, grow and interact with their environments. Microbiologists may work with biochemists researching new drugs or they may work in medical laboratories developing ways to prevent, treat and cure diseases.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • Bachelor’s

Work Experience Required

  • None

Workplace Environment

  • Research and development labs
  • Pharmaceutical and medical manufacturing companies
  • State and local government agencies
  • Hospitals

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • N/A

Environmental Scientists and Specialists

Environmental scientists and specialists use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment and human wellness. They may investigate potential environmental health risks, clean up polluted areas, advise policy makers or work with industry to reduce waste. Environmental scientists and specialists also implement public education projects.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • Bachelor’s

Work Experience Required

  • None

Workplace Environment

  • Government agency offices
  • Engineering services
  • Private consulting firms

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • N/A

Social and Community Service Managers

Social and community service managers coordinate and supervise social service programs and community organizations. They may work for organizations that focus on a particular demographic, such as children, the homeless, older adults or veterans. Other social and community service managers may concentrate on helping people with particular challenges, such as mental health needs, chronic hunger or public health issues.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • Bachelor’s

Work Experience Required

  • 5 years or more

Workplace Environment

  • Shelters
  • Family services
  • Government agencies
  • Religious institutions
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Nursing care facilities

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • N/A

Emergency Management Directors

Emergency management directors prepare plans and procedures for responding to natural disasters and other emergencies. They also may lead the response during and after emergencies, often in coordination with emergency medical services, fire and law enforcement officials, elected officials, nonprofit organizations and government agencies.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • Bachelor’s

Work Experience Required

  • None

Workplace Environment

  • Government agencies
  • Universities
  • Non-profit offices
  • Private firms

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • State certification

Agricultural and Food Scientists

Agricultural and food scientists work to ensure the quality and safety of food. They analyze the nutritional content, discover new food sources and research ways to make processed foods safe and healthy. Other agricultural and food scientists enforce government regulations, inspecting food processing areas to ensure they meet sanitation and waste management standards.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • Bachelor’s

Work Experience Required

  • None

Workplace Environment

  • Colleges and universities
  • Research and development labs
  • Agriculture
  • Forestry
  • Fishing and hunting organizations

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • Certifications are available from the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists, Institute of Food Technologists or the Soil Science of America. State licensure demands will vary by state and specialty.

Dietitian and Nutritionist

Dietitians and nutritionists are experts in food and nutrition. They advise on what to eat in order to lead a healthy lifestyle or achieve a specific health-related goal. They work with individuals or groups in public health clinics, government agencies, nonprofits or health maintenance organizations. They also develop programs and counsel the public on topics related to dietary wellness.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • Bachelor’s

Work Experience Required

  • None

Workplace Environment

  • Schools
  • Nursing homes
  • Hospitals
  • Cafeterias

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • State licensure. Optional Credentials: Registered Dietition Nutritionist (RDN) credential, or the Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS).

Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians

Medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians collect samples and perform tests to analyze bodily fluids and tissues. Medical laboratory technologists tend to perform complex medical laboratory tests, while medical laboratory technicians usually perform routine procedures. Both technologists and technicians help to diagnose, prevent and treat diseases to ensure public health and safety.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • Bachelor’s

Work Experience Required

  • None

Workplace Environment

  • Hospitals
  • Medical laboratories
  • Physician’s offices
  • Colleges and universities

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • State board licensing and some additional exams depending on occupational specialty

Biological Technicians

Biological technicians are typically responsible for doing scientific tests, experiments and analyses under the supervision of biologists or other scientists. They may assist medical researchers in developing new medicines and treatments used to prevent, treat or cure diseases.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • Bachelor’s

Work Experience Required

  • None

Workplace Environment

  • Colleges and universities
  • Research and development labs
  • Federal government
  • Chemical manufacturing companies
  • Hospitals and pharmaceutical testing labs

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • On-the-job training

Master’s

Statistician

Statisticians use statistical methods to collect and analyze data for use in problem solving. They design surveys, questionnaires, experiments and polls, and they may design studies to test whether drugs or other methods successfully treat diseases or conditions. Statisticians also work for hospitals or public health agencies to help identify the sources of disease outbreaks.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • Master’s

Work Experience Required

  • None

Workplace Environment

  • Government offices
  • Insurance companies
  • Healthcare institutions

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • N/A

Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists treat injured, ill or disabled patients through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They help develop, recover and improve the skills needed for daily living and working. In some cases, occupational therapists help to create functional work environments. They evaluate the work space, plan work activities, and meet with the patient’s employer to collaborate on changes to the work environment or schedule.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • Master’s

Work Experience Required

  • None

Workplace Environment

  • Hospitals
  • Occupational therapy offices
  • Schools
  • Nursing care facilities
  • Home health services

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • 24 weeks of supervised fieldwork
  • National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapists (NBCOT) exam
  • Continuing education courses

Sociologists

Sociologists study interactions and organization within social, religious, political and economic groups. They examine the effects of social influences on individuals and groups, often in a public health context. Sociological research is frequently used to solve public health issues and formulate public health policy.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • Master’s

Work Experience Required

  • None

Workplace Environment

  • Colleges and universities
  • Research and development labs
  • Local government agencies
  • Management consulting firms

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • N/A

Epidemiologists

Epidemiologists are public health professionals that investigate patterns and causes of disease and injury in humans. They seek to reduce the risk and occurrence of negative health outcomes through research, community education and health policy.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • Master’s

Work Experience Required

  • None

Workplace Environment

  • Government health departments
  • Hospitals
  • Universities
  • In the field

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • N/A

Survey Researchers

Survey researchers design surveys and analyze data. Surveys are used to collect data, such as employment and health information or to understand people’s opinions, preferences, beliefs or desires. A survey researcher may, for example, try to accurately capture information on the prevalence of drug use or disease in a community.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • Master’s

Work Experience Required

  • None

Workplace Environment

  • In the field
  • Research offices

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • Professional Researcher Certification (PRC)

Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists help people and groups cope with mental or emotional disorders with the goal of improving general relationship issues. They aid people in understanding themselves and developing strategies to improve their lives. Counselors and therapists assist people suffering from anxiety, depression, grief, low self-esteem, substance abuse, addiction, stress and suicidal impulses. They may evaluate family roles, emotional development, group dynamics and societal influence to understand how these factors influence mental health.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • Master’s

Work Experience Required

  • None

Workplace Environment

  • Hospitals
  • Universities
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Mental health facilities
  • Substance abuse treatment centers
  • Private practices

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • State board exams
  • Licensing
  • 2,000 to 4,000 clinical hours

Rehabilitation Counselors

Rehabilitation counselors help people with physical, mental, emotional or social disabilities at various stages in their lives. They work with people to overcome or manage the personal, social and professional effects of disabilities on employment or independent living. Some work with students to develop strategies to live with their disability and move from school to work. Others help veterans cope with the mental or physical effects of their military service. Still others help elderly people adapt to disabilities developed later in life from illness or injury.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • Master’s

Work Experience Required

  • None

Workplace Environment

  • Universities
  • Schools
  • Insurance companies
  • Prisons
  • Non-profit offices
  • Government agencies
  • Private practices

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • 2,000 to 4,000 hours of clinical experience
  • State licensing
  • Certified Rehabilitation Counselors (CRC) credential

Doctoral and Professional

Biochemists and Biophysicists

Biochemists and biophysicists study the chemical and physical principles of living things and of biological processes, such as cell development, growth and heredity. In a public health context, biochemists and biophysicists develop tests used to detect diseases, genetic disorders and other illnesses. They also work to develop new drugs and medications, such as those used to treat cancer or prevent epidemics.

Data via BLS

Data via BLS

Minimum Degree Required

  • Doctoral or professional

Work Experience Required

  • 5 years or more

Workplace Environment

  • Research and development labs
  • Colleges and universities
  • Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing companies
  • Drug testing laboratories

Training, Exams, and Licenses

  • Complete multi-year post-doctoral research appointments within your specialty area