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Careers in Public Health

What are the career opportunities in Public Health?

Regardless of your academic background and strengths, Public Health offers rewarding careers. For instance, if you enjoy mathematics and simulation modeling, then epidemiology, biostatistics, cost effectiveness evaluations, or Geographic Information Systems might be of interest. If you enjoy natural sciences such as environmental science or immunology, than environmental health or infection disease control offer a wide range of career options. If you are interested in helping people get access to health care, improve the quality of health care services, and understand how to contain the rising costs of health care, then health services research or health administration might be of interest. If you are interested in improving the health or people and/or communities, than health behavior, education, and promotion offer rewarding careers.

This is an exciting time to pursue a career in public health. The US and the world face major challenges in meeting the needs of our populations. Most of these problems are not going to be solved by advances in medical technologies or new treatments alone, but rather will require finding new ways of delivering health care to people, to changing the way we work and live to promote healthy lifestyles, and to help empower communities to make changes. A career in public health will put you in a good position to help make these changes.

What salary ranges can I expect after graduation?

While there are dozens of specialties in public health, most career opportunities are found in the following fields. The salary ranges, as follows, are the actual salaries earned (adjusted for inflation using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index) within one year of graduation as reported by the most recent nationwide survey of graduates conducted by the Association of Schools of Public Health:

  • Health Services Administration
    $37,050 - $161,400
  • Biostatistics
    $33,000 - $63,000
  • Epidemiology
    $38,175 - $136,237
  • Health Education/Behavioral Science
    $33,000 - $86,625
  • Environmental Health
    $44,550 - $143,700
  • International Health
    $31,500 - $86,625
  • Nutrition
    $31,500 - $70,875
  • Public Health Practice/Program Management
    $41,175 - $102,000
  • Biomedical Laboratory
    $31,500 - $78,750

What about graduate school?

An alternative to moving directly from your undergraduate degree to a profession is to enter graduate school. Graduate programs in public health provide advanced training in the basic areas of public health followed by extensive specialized training, leading to master's and doctoral degrees, qualifying graduates to take leadership roles in both applied settings and academic research. Numerous universities in the US maintain active public health schools. A good way to investigate the possibility of graduate work in public health is to learn about the schools themselves. The council on education for public health (CEPH) maintains a list of accredited schools and programs.

Updated October 2023