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Best Public Health Careers – Salaries & Required Education

best public health careers

Do your career goals center around contributing to and improving the quality of human life? A rewarding way to start your career is by earning a Bachelor’s or Master of Public Health (MPH) degree. The public health field provides a diverse range of career opportunities at all education levels. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the best public health careers’ median annual wages were $75,040 as of May 2021.

To have a salary overview of your career options, we have collated accurate data to rank the public health careers according to their highest pay. Our focus will be on estimated job growth, average (median) salary ranges, and primary education requirements.

What is Public Health?

What is public health, and what do students pursuing public health degrees learn?

In some cases, public health activities involve dealing with numerous factors that affect the health of many people in a society. But medically, public health refers to the science and systems adopted to combat disease, promote health, and encourage healthy behaviors among inhabitants within an entire population.

The public health program addresses broad issues that can impact people’s health and general well-being in society at large. Students build a robust foundation in disease prevention and control initiatives, environmental health, resources management (monetary and material), ethics and behavioral issues, etc.

Different curriculum exists for a wide range of public health degrees. For instance, coursework areas in the environmental health science field include toxicology, risk assessment, principles of infectious disease, exposure assessment, etc.

How to Land One of the Best Public Health Careers

Suppose you are considering a new career in public health. In that case, you must take the necessary steps to enter the prestigious field. Follow the steps outlined below to enter the public health field:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the public health field.
  2. Opt for a healthcare job in your field to gain relevant work experience. With a master's degree in public health, you can help elderly patients understand their health conditions and advocate for local health care needs in the community. A bachelor's in public health will easily land you an environmental sanitarian role.
  3. Volunteer to educate and assist the populace in essential areas of health and wellness—further your education to explore more career options, which will lead to higher income potential.

Skills Needed in the Best Public Health Careers

Specialists in public health play vital roles in ensuring the proper well-being of inhabitants across the country. Diverse health practitioners work in government establishments, health centers, academic institutions, etc. While undergoing internships in the Public Health program, employers will expect public health professionals to develop the important skills listed below.

Social Skills

Interacting socially with others without conflict requires being courteous. Therefore, excellent social skills are expected of a health professional, as it helps foster transparency with patients. The results are patients who are open and willing to communicate their health challenges.

Analytical (Technical) Skills

Public health practitioners must be able to work with statistical tools (software), Microsoft office packages, health management analytics, and systems. For instance, by analyzing statistical trends, health care providers can monitor community conditions and compare them to state and national trends.

Communication Skills

These skills are vital for the success of all public health practitioners. Excellent communication skills aid in understanding core ethical values, navigating good interactions with people and effectively relaying information.

Leadership Skills

Public health majors can spearhead health campaigns and offer solutions to societal challenges and organizational issues.

In addition to the skills stated above, clear and legible writing skills are essential for all specialists. Cultural competency skills are also of uttermost importance as it helps to communicate with people across different cultural backgrounds effectively.

Best Entry-Level Public Health Careers

To compute the best-paying job lists, we’ve examined three major criteria using the Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The estimated salary was analyzed first, which the BLS presently computed as a median salary based on data from 2021.

After that, we focused on the expected job growth. According to BLS statistics, employment in healthcare occupations will grow by 16% from 2020 to 2030. The statistical growth in healthcare occupations is higher than in other jobs, predicting approximately 2.6 million new jobs.

The basic educational requirements were the last criteria considered. It is imperative to know that individual earnings and positions attained in the organizational structure are dependent on the qualifications or degrees obtained.

Dietitians And Nutritionists

Avg. Salary: $61,650
Job Growth: 11%
Education: Bachelor’s degree

According to many scientific studies, our food substantially impacts our health. Dietary changes can help prevent or control a wide range of health issues, including diabetes, obesity, etc. Dietitian nutritionists help people improve their health by utilizing nutrition and food science. Nutrition and dietetic technicians collaborate with dietitian nutritionists to give patients care, consultation, and general nutrition education.

Dietitian nutritionists earn a median salary of $61,650. But those with more experience and advanced degrees could reach $93,640. The majority of the entry-level positions in this field require only a bachelor’s degree. With estimated job growth of 11%, pursuing a public health career in the Dietitian and Nutrition field will be highly profitable.

Clinical Laboratory Technologists And Technicians

Avg. Salary: $57,800
Job Growth: 11%
Education: Bachelor’s degree

Although they are rarely in direct contact with patients, medical laboratory scientists and technicians are an essential role in providing personalized care. They aid in disease diagnosis and treatment by conducting qualitative, quantitative, or screening test procedures or examinations on human-derived materials.

Qualified persons in this public health career could earn a median salary of $57,800. Most entry-level positions in the clinical laboratory technologist field require only a bachelor’s degree. With 11% projected growth, it will be rewarding to pursue a career in this field.

Athletic Trainers

Avg. Salary: $48,420
Job Growth: 23%
Education: Bachelor’s degree

Athletic trainers help thousands of people each year by preventing, diagnosing, treating, and rehabilitating injuries and illnesses. They are in charge of treating injuries ranging from minor to life-threatening ones. Still, their significance does not diminish at the end of each practice or game. They offer care while adhering to a code of ethics, resulting in excellent public health care.

If you land one of these athletic trainers job roles, you may expect a median salary of $48,420. If you advance in your career into the top ten percent, you could earn $76,180. Most of the available job openings in this field only require a bachelor’s degree. However, a few of the highest paying jobs in this field require a Master’s degree. With a staggering 23% job growth, there is considerable potential for a stable public health career.

Exercise Physiologists

Avg. Salary: $47,940
Job Growth: 13%
Education: Bachelor’s degree

Exercise physiologists help people living with disabilities and chronic medical conditions in healthcare practice. These conditions include lung disease, diabetes, etc. To reduce the impact of their disability or sickness by exercising and improving their physical fitness. They also work with skilled athletes and amateurs who want to improve their performance.

For an entry-level role in this public health career, a new practitioner can earn a median salary of $47,940. At the same time, those fortunate to be among the top ten percent would make at least $76,950 per annum. A bachelor’s degree is a minor academic requirement for this role. Due to an estimated 13% job growth potential, a career in this field will be rewarding.

The 11 Best Public Health Careers

1. Physicians And Surgeons

Avg. Salary: ≥ $208,000
Job Growth: 3%
Education: Doctoral or Professional degree

Without physicians and surgeons, public health care operations cannot function. Because of the complexity of their jobs, physicians and surgeons are the most revered in the healthcare profession.

Physicians carry out diagnostic tests, prescription of medications, patient health examinations, etc. They frequently advise patients on personal hygiene, healthy diets, and preventive healthcare.

Surgeons specialize in the operational treatment of diseases, deformities, and injuries. A surgeon adjusts physical deformities and performs preventive surgeries on patients battling acute and life-threatening diseases or disorders.

If you end up employed as a surgeon or physician, the median pay is $208,000 per annum. Being a competitive public health career, the available role in this field requires a doctoral or professional degree. Job growth is currently at 3%. Regardless of the projected job growth, the career will last the test of time.

2. Dentists

Avg. Salary: $160,370
Job Growth: 8%
Education: Doctoral or Professional degree

With a mirror, one can easily note the appearance of their teeth, but underneath the gums may be unseen complications. The good news about this is that dentists do not only solve tooth problems; they also help to prevent them from ever happening. Dentists are responsible for enhancing patients’ oral health through examinations, dental treatments, and preventive care procedures.

The median salary of a trained dentist is $160,370, while the top ten percent earn $200,000. The minimum academic requirement for a dentist is a Doctoral or Professional degree.

These public health careers have an expected growth of 8%, meaning there will be more available jobs in the future.

3. Podiatrists

Avg. Salary: $145,840
Job Growth: 2%
Education: Doctoral or Professional degree

It’s easy to take healthy feet for granted, but foot problems are common. Podiatrists are experts in diagnosing and treating foot-related complications.

A wide range of available jobs exists for a podiatrist from which to choose. The median salary for this public health career is $145,840, and the top 10% can expect to make over $180,000, making the career one of the highest paying in the public health field. It is mandatory to have a Doctoral or Professional degree before becoming a qualified podiatrist. With a projected 2% job growth, entry-level jobs will still be available for new graduates in this field.

4. Pharmacists

Avg. Salary: $128,750
Job Growth: – 2% (Decline)
Education: Doctoral or Professional degree

Pharmacists play a vital and irreplaceable role in the healthcare system. With a focus on patient care and safety, a pharmacist ensures the appropriate administration of the correct medication and dosage to the patient. Pharmacists work in various settings, such as hospitals, research laboratories, and clinics.

The minimum requirement to become a practicing pharmacist is a Doctoral or Professional. In this career, the median pay is $128,750, while those in the top 10% will earn at least $164,590. This career is expected to decline by 2%.

5. Optometrists

Avg. Salary: $124,300
Job Growth: 8%
Education: Doctoral or Professional degree

A single comprehensive eye examination can result in a patient discovering an undiagnosed eye disease or injury and obtaining corrective lenses. Optometrists are experts who play a critical role in their patients’ vision, eye health, and overall health.

By profession, they manage, treat, and correct disorders and diseases of the visual system, the eye, and its surrounding structures. They also collaborate with pediatricians, primary care doctors, and other healthcare team members.

The median earnings for people working in these public health fields are $124,300, but the top 10% can earn at least $192,390. The job role requires that candidates have a Doctoral or Professional degree. With expected job growth of 8%, more employment opportunities are guaranteed in this field.

6. Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, And Nurse Practitioners

Avg. Salary: $123,780
Job Growth: 45%
Education: Master’s degree

Nurse-midwives are professionals that care for women from their adolescence to menopause. They guide women through any form of body transformation due to medical reasons or complex genetic make-up. They also provide care for pregnant women during prenatal visits, at birth, and after the baby is born.

Certified nurse-midwives/certified midwives are qualified healthcare professionals who work in various clinical settings, diagnosing and treating caregivers and referring them to specialists as needed. They are an important part of the healthcare team and work closely with physicians.

The median salary for people working in these public health careers is $123,780. The job role requires that graduates must have a Master’s degree. With an expected growth of 45%, numerous job opportunities will be available in this field over the next eight years.

7. Physician Assistants

Avg. Salary: $121,530
Job Growth: 31%
Education: Master’s degree

A physician assistant performs physical exams, diagnoses and treats illnesses, orders and interprets tests, counsels on preventive health care, assists in surgery, and writes prescriptions. They largely serve as a patient’s primary healthcare provider, with patients seeing them instead of a doctor.

Physician assistants in the public health field earn a median salary of $121,530 in 2021, while people in the top 10% earn at least $164,620. Professionals aiming for this healthcare job can expect a career growth of 31% for the next eight years. However, you will need to obtain a Master’s degree to be qualified for this role.

8. Veterinarians

Avg. Salary: $100,370
Job Growth: 17%
Education: Doctoral or Professional degree

Veterinarians in this modern era are the only doctors with expertise to protect the health of both animals and humans. They work tirelessly to discover solutions to health problems and meet the health needs of all living things – aside from plants.

Veterinarians also play essential roles in research, public health, food safety, and environmental protection. Employment opportunities for these public health professionals are limitless as they can find work in diverse areas such as teaching, research, clinical practice, and regulatory medicine.

Those eligible to work in this field can earn a median salary of $100,370. At the same time, practitioners in the top 10% can expect to make $165,600. Despite being a rewarding career, qualified professionals must have a Doctoral or Professional degree. With an estimated job outlook of 17%, employment opportunities in this field are not declining anytime soon.

9. Physical Therapists

Avg. Salary: $95,620
Job Growth: 21%
Education: Doctoral or Professional degree

They provide education to patients and their loved ones stating simple ways to reduce the chances of falls at home. Physical therapists often specialize in improving a person’s range of movement and quality of life and curtailing further injury or disability.

Public health therapists can work in various healthcare organizations, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, private practices, nursing homes, home health, sports and fitness centers, schools, government agencies, and research centers.

To be a recognized and fully qualified physical therapist, obtaining a Doctoral or Professional degree is of uttermost importance. Practitioners in this public health field earn a median salary of $95,620, while those in the top 10% make at least $127,110. With a job outlook forecast of 21%, available employment opportunities abound in this field.

10. Occupational Therapists

Avg. Salary: $85,570
Job Growth: 17%
Education: Master’s degree

When faced with illness, injury, disability, or challenging life circumstances or events, occupational therapists assist people in doing the everyday activities they want and need to do. Occupational Therapy is a public healthcare profession that assists patients with psychological, physical, and social issues and enables them to carry out everyday activities without stress. They employ everyday exercises, routines, and other therapies to achieve this.

The median pay for practicing professionals in this public health field is $85,570, while other practitioners in the top 10% earn $123,840. To practice in this field, you will need to obtain a Master’s degree. The projected job growth is at 17%, and graduates can be positive concerning their career outlook.

11. Radiation Therapists

Avg. Salary: $82,790
Job Growth: 9%
Education: Associate’s degree

When a radiation patient arrives for treatment, the radiation therapists are responsible for ensuring correct patient treatment. Their first job is to provide emotional support. Before a patient’s first treatment, the radiation therapist will go through the planning information and ensure that all necessary equipment is in the treatment room. They are also responsible for gathering essential patient information and using this information to plan the patients’ treatment.

The median salary for this profession is $82,790, with the top ten percent earning an average of $128,550. You must have an Associate’s degree to be eligible for this salary level. Employment of radiation therapists is forecasted to grow by 9 percent for the next eight years.

Selling Your Public Health Career Potential

What should you do now that you have obtained all of the prerequisite degrees in your chosen field? After completing your bachelor’s or master's degree in public health, how do you get a job?

A successful career in on of the best public health careers necessitates more than a top-tier degree program or practical experience. Employers of health care workers scrutinize more than just your clinical abilities on your resume. It is also essential to hone your “soft skills,” also known as “personality skills.” These are the personal characteristics you use to influence and improve how you communicate and relate to patients, colleagues, and peers.

When crafting your resume or preparing for an interview, try as much as possible to emphasize on community health programs you have volunteered for, and other relevant activities carried out by you.

Build Your Best Public Health Career Today!

Why not pursue one of the best public health careers?

Check out the online public health degrees to find the right, accredited program for you today! Earning a degree online allows for flexibility and is more affordable than in-person classes. We have more interesting educational information for you to explore at any time. And, of course, this comes at no cost. Take charge of your future in public health with an online degree!

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