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Public Health Major

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Public Health

15,666 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
14,891 Master's Degrees Annually
#35 in Popularity
$75,690 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Public Health Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many public health graduations there were in 2017-2018 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 15,666
Master’s Degree 14,933
Graduate Certificate 1,649
Doctor’s Degree 908
Associate’s Degree 599
Basic Certificate 292
Undergraduate Certificate 42

What Public Health Majors Need to Know

People with careers related to public health were asked what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. They weighted these areas on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest.

Knowledge Areas for Public Health Majors

According to O*NET survey takers, a major in public health should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

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  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

Skills for Public Health Majors

A major in public health prepares you for careers in which the following skill-sets are crucial:

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  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Abilities for Public Health Majors

Some of the most crucial abilities to master while a public health student include the following:

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  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

What Can You Do With a Public Health Major?

People with a public health degree often go into the following careers:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Community Health Workers 17.9% $39,540
Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Health 11.1% $71,130
Epidemiologists 8.2% $69,660
Health Educators 14.6% $54,220
Health Specialties Professors 25.9% $97,370
Industrial Ecologists 11.1% $71,130
Medical and Health Services Managers 20.5% $99,730
Occupational Health and Safety Specialists 8.1% $73,020
Occupational Health and Safety Technicians 9.9% $50,780
Physicists 14.5% $120,950

Who Is Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health?

15,666 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
80% Percent Women
48% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
Public Health runs middle of the road when it comes to popularity, ranking #35 out of all the undergraduate majors we track. In 2018, about 15,666 graduates completed their bachelor’s degree in this field. The major attracts more women than men. About 80% of the recent graduates in this field are female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of public health majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Public Health Students with Bachelor's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 1,944
Black or African American 2,418
Hispanic or Latino 2,429
White 7,298
International Students 415
Other Races/Ethnicities 1,162

Geographic Diversity

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in Public Health. About 2.6% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • China
  • India
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Nigeria
  • Canada

How Much Do Public Health Majors Make?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

The U.S. Department of Education found that students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a bachelor’s degree in public health made a median starting salary of $31,100 per year. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $29,100 (25th percentile) and $34,300 (75th percentile).

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It is possible that some of these people may have taken positions that were not related to public health.

Salaries According to BLS

Public Health majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $59,660 to $113,730 (25th to 75th percentile). This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Public Health Major  ( 59660 to 113730 )
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250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some degrees associated with public health may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

Find out what the typical degree level is for public health careers below.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 1.2%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 0.7%
Some College Courses 0.5%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 10.9%
Bachelor’s Degree 42.4%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 2.2%
Master’s Degree 27.5%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 0.4%
First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession. 0.8%
Doctoral Degree 9.1%
Post-Doctoral Training 5.2%

Online Public Health Programs

In 2017-2018, 688 schools offered a public health program of some type. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 45 7
Certificate (1-2 years) 31 4
Certificate (2-4 Years) 1 0
Associate’s Degree 90 10
Bachelor’s Degree 195 75
Post-Baccalaureate 45 7
Master’s Degree 573 164
Post-Master’s 43 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 167 14
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 10 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 4 1

Is a Degree in Public Health Worth It?

The median salary for a public health grad is $75,690 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 90% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $715,800 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to public health.

Major Number of Grads
Nursing 293,633
Allied Health & Medical Assisting Services 104,465
Practical Nursing & Nursing Assistants 90,916
Health & Medical Administrative Services 87,058
Allied Health Professions 86,125
Rehabilitation & Therapeutic Professions 28,068
Dental Support Services 27,155
Mental & Social Health Services 26,783
Health Sciences & Services 24,436
Communication Sciences 21,520
Pharmacy/Pharmaceutical Sciences 19,962
Medicine 19,418
Clinical/Medical Laboratory Science 19,295
Somatic Bodywork & Therapeutic Services 15,451
Health/Medical Prep Programs 11,807
Other Health Professions 8,426
Dentistry 6,518
Osteopathic Medicine 6,392
Dietetics & Clinical Nutrition Services 6,056
Health Aids/Attendants/Orderlies 3,875
Alternative Medicine & Systems 3,481
Veterinary Medicine 3,175
Chiropractic 2,503
Advanced Dentistry & Oral Sciences 1,714
Optometry 1,674
Medical Illustration & Informatics 1,608
Ophthalmic & Optometric Support Services 1,089
Veterinary Biomedical & Clinical Services 804
Medical Science 738
Podiatry 543
Bioethics/Medical Ethics 535
Movement & Mind-Body Therapies 373
Alternative Medical Support Services 244
Energy & Biologically Based Therapies 73

References

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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