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It’s been many generations since there was as much concern over global health as there is at this moment. The global pandemic has taken center stage as cases of COVID-19 mount and public health officials work diligently to reduce social transmission by enacting closures and launching awareness campaigns focused on mask-wearing and social distancing protocols. It’s all part of the ongoing effort to keep infection rates from spiking past the levels healthcare facilities are capable of keeping up with.

While jobs related to the kind of epidemiological and policy-level work required to fight COVID-19 are most certainly getting a lot of attention, all the other important work on the public health front continues in the background. And that work is no less important today than it was before the outbreak.

Even as the public health community at large is forced to maintain a singular focus on the global pandemic, other pressing issues related to the obesity health crises, air and water quality, the opioid addiction crises and countless other public health challenges means that lots of other public health jobs still need talented and dedicated people to fill them.

Choosing a Specialty in Public Health

If developing policy and directing public health initiatives is where you think you’d be able to make the most impact, you’ll find a master’s in public health is a natural path for you to take in the course of preparing for your career, or when taking steps to advance to more influential roles in leadership. The MPH is a diverse degree that teaches the practical applications of the five core public health disciplines – behavioral science and health education, biostatistics, environmental health, epidemiology, and health services administration. This makes the MPH relevant to specialized career paths in any of these areas.

But there’s also other vital roles that require undergraduate degrees in related areas that can lay a strong foundation for earning an MPH later, as well as jobs in the field that call for a different kind of training entirely. Among them are the frontline healthcare workers, behavioral specialists, clinical research scientists and workplace safety specialists who have been making absolutely vital contributions in the fight against COVID-19. And even as the global pandemic has reoriented our perspective on what public health is all about, the many other jobs in completely unrelated fields like air and water safety, nutrition, and community health can’t be forgotten either.

How We Decided on the Top-25 Most In-Demand Jobs

So that leaves you to figure out what path you’re going to take to make your mark in the incredibly diverse and vitally important field of public health. To help you plan for whatever future career you envision for yourself, what we provide for you here is our analysis of the most in-demand jobs in public health. And true to the spirit of public health, it’s an analysis that is largely objective and statistically-based, but that also has a human element to it.

Our basic methodology involved a look at the job growth projections for dozens of careers in public health as classified in the 2019 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Employment Statistics database. With strong job growth projections serving as the best indicator of demand in any field, we identified the professions that are slated to add the most jobs during the ten-year period leading up to 2028. But a purely statistics-based analysis of what the public health job market is most likely to be like in the years ahead misses some of the factors that are we know will be driving demand for certain roles.

So, with our finger on the pulse of where the field is heading, we considered political pressures that come as a result of major events like the Flint Water Crises, as well as economic factors that make environmental and community health efforts a more affordable alternative to simply ignoring problems and dealing with them later, as is the case with the obesity epidemic and opioid addiction crises, among other public health issues that disproportionately affect poor and underrepresented segments of society.

So here you have the 25 public health jobs, presented in no particular order, that we believe will see the most demand in the years ahead based on both the numbers that are coming out of the job market, and the real-world events playing out in our communities.

#1 Health Educator

Health educators teach people about the many aspects of behavior that promote health and wellness. They develop programs to encourage people to make good health decisions.

People in this profession:

  • Assess needs of the community and its people
  • Come up with programs to teach about good health
  • Create/distribute health materials
  • Assist people in finding needed health services

Job Growth: 11% in the ten-year period leading up to 2028

Median salary: $46,910

(Job growth and salary data reported by the US BLS in May 2019 for Health Educators; conditions in your area may vary.)

 

#2 Community Health Workers

Community health workers wear a lot of hats, but everything they do is a means to the same end – improving the quality of life for people in a community by teaching, promoting and supporting healthy behavior and wellness. They educate the public on the risks associated with the specific problems that are affecting particular communities, and even more importantly promote healthier alternatives while directing people to the services they need to overcome their struggles. Whether it’s drug addiction, poor diet and inactivity, alcohol abuse, or the use of tobacco and vaping products – whatever a particular community is struggling with, community health workers are the front line personnel responsible for tackling it head-on and working to find solutions.

Job Growth: 11% in the ten-year period leading up to 2028

Median salary: $46,910

(Job growth and salary data reported by the US BLS in May 2019 for Community Health Workers; conditions in your area may vary.)

 

#3 Epidemiologist

An epidemiologist looks into the causes of diseases and other public health issues to keep them from spreading or recurring. They then report the findings to public health officials and to the public.

These public health professionals usually work in:

  • Health departments
  • Offices
  • Universities
  • Laboratories

Job Growth: 5% in the ten-year period leading up to 2028

Median salary: $70,990

(Job growth and salary data reported by the US BLS in May 2019 for Epidemiologists; conditions in your area may vary.)

 

#4 Biostatistician

A biostatistician uses mathematical techniques to analyze and interpret public health-related information and then draws conclusions from it. Some of what they do includes:

  • Determines public health problems to be addressed
  • Decides which data is needed to answer the problem
  • Determine the best methods for collecting the data
  • Come up with surveys and/or experiments to collect the data
  • Analyze and interpret the public health data

Job Growth: 30% in the ten-year period leading up to 2028

Median salary: $80,920

(Job growth and salary data reported by the US BLS in May 2019 for Statisticians in Healthcare and Social Assistant; conditions in your area may vary.)

 

#5 Occupational Health and Safety Specialists

Directors of environmental health educate, give training and regulate environmental practices of the government in both private and public operations. These regulations ensure the quality of water, food and air in a given area. To become a director of environmental health, you should have:

  • A bachelor’s degree in environmental health
  • A master’s degree in environmental law, public health or environmental health science

Job Growth: 6% in the ten-year period leading up to 2028

Median salary: $70,480

(Job growth and salary data reported by the US BLS in May 2019 for Occupational Health and Safety Specialists; conditions in your area may vary.)

 

#6 Clinical Research Coordinator

A clinical research coordinator typically works under the direction of a clinical principal investigator. The CRC will usually support, facilitate and coordinate clinical trial activities and has an important role in all clinical studies at the site. Essential duties include:

  • Coordinating with PI to ensure clinical trial activities are done according to federal regulations.
  • Help PI develop material and tools needed to train people working on the study.
  • Assist PI in assuring that all personnel in the project meet training requirements.

Job Growth: 26% in the ten-year period leading up to 2028

Median salary: $86,170

(Job growth and salary data reported by the US BLS in May 2019 for Operations Research Analysts in Professional, Scientific and Technical Services; conditions in your area may vary.)

 

#7 Social and Community Service Managers

You will develop programs and oversee staff and volunteers all working in support of community-level public health initiatives. With limited budgets to work with, public health workers wear many hats and perform any related function the situation calls for. Even at the level of management, that’s no different. It’s a fact that will keep you learning new skills throughout your career, keeping you on your toes and fully engaged in the exciting and altruistic work involved in promoting public health.

Job Growth: 13% in the ten-year period leading up to 2028

Median salary: $67,150

(Job growth and salary data reported by the US BLS in May 2019 for Social and Community Service Managers in Family Services; conditions in your area may vary.)

 

#8 Nonprofit Executive Director

The executive director of a nonprofit organization will oversee the heads of every department in a nonprofit, such as marketing, program development, fundraising, HR and accounting. Executive directors also can oversee various lower level executives.

Job Growth: 6% in the ten-year period leading up to 2028

Median salary: $164,410

(Job growth and salary data reported by the US BLS in May 2019 for Top Executives in Healthcare and Social Assistance; conditions in your area may vary.)

 

#9 Research Assistant

Research assistants typically work in laboratories and analyze clinical trial and survey data. In a public health setting, you may work on research projects that are directly related to public health, such as water pollution or the spread of diseases.

Job Growth: 5% in the ten-year period leading up to 2028

Median salary: $53,120

(Job growth and salary data reported by the US BLS in May 2019 for Clinical Laboratory Technicians; conditions in your area may vary.)

 

#10 Healthcare Consultant

A healthcare consultant is a management analyst that is typically employed in healthcare. However, these professionals also can be employed in public health. A public healthcare consultant typically does the following:

  • Researches data related to an identified public health problem.
  • Collect the data and provide the information to the public health official.
  • Work with public health officials to come to an agreement on potential solutions.

Job Growth: 14% in the ten-year period leading up to 2028

Median salary: $91,160

(Job growth and salary data reported by the US BLS in May 2019 for Management Analysts in Professional, Scientific and Technical Services; conditions in your area may vary.

 

#11 Hospital Administrator

A hospital administrator plans, directs and coordinates medical and health care services in a hospital. This professional can manage a whole facility, a specific clinical area or also a practice within a hospital. You may:

  • Boost efficiency in delivering hospital health care services
  • Stay up to date on any new laws so that your facility is in compliance
  • Supervise hospital staff on public health issues
  • Manage the finances of the hospital

Job Growth: 18% in the ten-year period leading up to 2028

Median salary: $100,980

(Job growth and salary data reported by the US BLS in May 2019 for Medical and Health Services Managers; conditions in your area may vary.)

 

#12 Clinical Trials Scientist

A clinical trials scientist works on medical and public health studies that are designed to measure how effective a drug treatment is. The clinical research is usually done in a hospital or medical facility. Responsibilities include:

  • Coordinate the clinical research study
  • Track product inventory
  • Collect data and oversee protocols
  • Act as a liaison between doctors and other medical staff

Job Growth: 8% in the ten-year period leading up to 2028

Median Salary: $84,240

(Job growth and salary data reported by the US BLS in May 2019 for Medical Scientists in State, Local and Private Hospitals; conditions in your area may vary.)

 

#13 Director of Industrial Hygiene

Directors and managers of industrial hygiene work in the field of environmental health and safety. This is a high paying field for those who can handle the educational requirements, which generally are an undergraduate degree in engineering or chemistry, and also a master’s degree in industrial hygiene. They can work in a number of areas, but the most common are:

  • Government
  • Research laboratories
  • Public health organizations
  • Hospitals
  • Hazardous waste firms
  • Colleges and universities

Job Growth: 1% in the ten-year period leading up to 2028

Median salary: $105,480+

(Job growth and salary data reported by the US BLS in May 2019 for Industrial Production Managers; conditions in your area may vary.)

 

#14 Industrial Waste System Engineer

Industrial waste system engineers are usually found working for local government in wastewater, treatment facilities, but might also work for private companies that produce large amounts of wastewater as a byproduct of industrial production. They design and maintain the systems and infrastructure for removing solid and liquid waste, keeping it out of the water table and open bodies of water to ensure the safety of our most abundant but precious natural resource.

Job Growth: 8% in the ten-year period leading up to 2028

Median salary: $88,020

(Job growth and salary data reported by the US BLS in May 2019 for Industrial Engineers; conditions in your area may vary.)

 

#15 Infection Control Officer

As the title implies, infection control officers are responsible for keeping facility-acquired infection rates as low as possible. Infection rates are tracked closely and used to determine the safety and insurability of a healthcare facility, and are responsible for a significant portion of patient readmittance, so naturally, hospitals put a lot of resources into mitigating infections. For a lot of hospitals, surgical centers and other places where healthcare is provided, this means hiring a dedicated infection control officer to monitor patient diagnoses, review the condition of patients, and to establish healthcare worker protocols for reducing the likelihood of infection.

Job Growth: 11% in the ten-year period leading up to 2028

Median salary: $62,850

(Job growth and salary data reported by the US BLS in May 2019 for unclassified (all other) Healthcare Technical Workers in General Medical and Surgical Hospitals; conditions in your area may vary.)

 

#16 Social and Community Service Managers

A project manager in a public health facility is usually responsible for overseeing health services and facilities above all else. As a project manager, you might have projects that fall into either the clinical or health information section, depending upon which kind of public health organization you work in.

Job Growth: 13% in the ten-year period leading up to 2028

Median salary: $67,150

(Job growth and salary data reported by the US BLS in May 2019 for Social and Community Service Managers; conditions in your area may vary.)

 

#17 Director of Epidemiology

A director of epidemiology works on the causes of diseases and various public health problems to prevent them from recurring. A director in this field typically has several epidemiologists working under him or her.

As a director you will:

  • Direct the study of key public health issues to find a way to treat vulnerable populations.
  • Direct the collection and analysis of data
  • Have junior epidemiologists communicate findings to appropriate professionals in the government.

Job Growth: 5% in the ten-year period leading up to 2028

Median salary: $99,770

(Job growth and salary data reported by the US BLS in May 2019 for Epidemiologists in Scientific Research and Development Services; conditions in your area may vary.)

 

#18 Radiation Safety Specialist

Develops, implements and monitors environmental and safety programs in a variety of public health-related facilities to make sure they are compliant with all federal, state and local laws. Job duties can include control of hazardous materials, emergency preparedness, radiological safety and prevention of accidents.

Job Growth: 6% in the ten-year period leading up to 2028

Median salary: $73,210

(Job growth and salary data reported by the US BLS in May 2019 for Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians in Management, Scientific and Technical Consulting Services; conditions in your area may vary.)

 

#19 Director of Municipal Water Treatment Plant

A director of a water treatment plant deals with all of the functions of a water treatment as it pertains to public health. This includes water storage, treatment and delivery. Note that because of strict water treatment regulations, a director or management position in this field requires at least a master’s degree and various certifications.

Though this role is not slated for strong job growth based on the last BLS assessment of the job market, we believe that will change dramatically in the years ahead as issues of water scarcity come increasingly to the forefront, calling for stricter regulations on industrial pollutants that could compromise fresh water sources.

Salary: $77,600

(Salary data reported by the US BLS in May 2019 as the 90th percentile salary for Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant System Operators; conditions in your area may vary.)

 

#20 Director of Operations for Public Health Offices

The director of operations in any state or federal public health agency is in charge of the boots-on-the-ground efforts to promote and protect public health. In the event of active disease outbreaks or pandemic, those efforts become more urgent and proactive. These professionals take the lead role in everything from public health education campaigns like the ones that promote mask-wearing, to the on-going front-line outreach and inoculation efforts in developing nations.

Job Growth: 18% in the ten-year period leading up to 2028

Median salary: $111,520

(Salary data reported by the US BLS for Medical and Health Services Managers working in government in May 2019; conditions in your area may vary.)

 

#21 Water Quality Investigator

A water quality investigator investigates various water problems and issues that afflict communities in various towns, states, counties and countries around the world. They will often deal with various water measuring instruments and machines to treat and test water. They also monitor operating conditions with the local water supply with assorted meters and gauges.

Though this role is not slated for strong job growth based on the last BLS assessment of the job market, we believe that will change dramatically in the years ahead as issues of water scarcity come increasingly to the forefront, calling for stricter regulations on industrial pollutants that could compromise fresh water sources.

Median salary: $47,760

(Salary data reported by the US BLS in May 2019 as the 90th percentile salary for Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant System Operators; conditions in your area may vary.

 

#22 Survey Statistician

These professionals apply various statistical methods and mathematical theories to write, organize and collect surveys that relate to public health. They then do an analysis of this survey data to provide useful information to a public health agency. Many who work in this field specialize in various subfields, such as biostatistics, business statistics and agricultural statistics.

Job Growth: 1% in the ten-year period leading up to 2028

Median salary: $59,170

(Job growth and salary data reported by the US BLS in May 2019 for Survey Researchers; conditions in your area may vary.)

 

#23 Public Health Nurse

Most nurses care for their patients one at a time, but a public health nurse provides care for an entire population. In working with the entire community, a public health nurse can educate the needy about the most important health issues.

Job Growth: 12% in the ten-year period leading up to 2028

Median salary: $79,790

(Job growth and salary data reported by the US BLS in May 2019 for Registered Nurses working in government; conditions in your area may vary.)

 

#24 Nutritionist

A nutritionist in public health is a registered dietician that coordinates and implements nutrition policies and programs for various local, state, federal and even international public health organizations.

Job Growth: 11% in the ten-year period leading up to 2028

Median salary: $61,270

(Job growth and salary data reported by the US BLS in May 2019 for Nutritionists; conditions in your area may vary.)

 

#25 Behavioral Therapist

A behavioral scientist combines their complex knowledge of sociology, psychology and anthropology so that they can help people in vulnerable public health settings live healthier lives. Behavioral scientists can work in a variety of public health organizations, such as community health clinics.

Job Growth: 22% in the ten-year period leading up to 2028

Median salary $52,720

(Job growth and salary data reported by the US BLS in May 2019 for Behavioral Disorder Counselors working in government; conditions in your area may vary.

Choosing Your Career

Look around to see what careers are available locally. Make sure that you take the time to explore these in-demand careers and see which ones best suit your passion and your skills. More importantly, make sure that you have access to the careers that you want, even if that means moving to find the best work. It’s going to be up to you to get the career that you want in public health and with so many options to choose from, it won’t be hard to find what you need.

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