Best Paying Entry-Level jobs in Public Health

clay-pot-622750_1280Many public health jobs are projected to grow an average of 20 percent through 2022, due to the increased demand for health services in the United States. According to the Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health (ASPPH), public health workers help to increase life expectancy, reduce infant and child mortality, improve access to health care, reduce violence and substance abuse, and control many communicable diseases.

“Those in the public health field are helping to solve the world’s most pressing health problems,” according to the ASPPH. Some of the impacts, these professionals have had includes:

– Addressing health disparities
– Reducing the impact of global epidemics and natural disasters
– Creating communities that are healthier and more educated on health topics
– Improving global health and finding innovative solutions to environmental health concerns

Below is a list of some of the best entry-level jobs in public health, including a general overview of the field and salary expectations. They are ranked in order based on the lower end of their salary range, from highest to least.

1. Psychologists

Psychologists may work with schools, healthcare teams, doctors, or in their practice to study human behavior. Some duties of a psychologist may include:

– Scientific study of human behavior and how the brain functions
– Observing, interviewing, or surveying to collect information on human behavior
– Identifying behavior patterns or researching emotional issues

There is range of types of psychologists, including clinical, counseling, developmental, forensic, school, and social psychologists. To become employed as a psychologist, a Doctorate’s or Ph.D. is required. Some fields may also require specialized licenses or certifications as well. The licensing process usually includes supervised experience after completion of a degree, an internship, and a residency program.

The salary range for psychologists in 2014 was approximately $42,230 to $170,930, with the top-paying industries being outpatient care centers and educational support services.

2. Marriage and Family Therapist

Helping families, couples, or individuals with emotional or mental disorders, marriage, and family therapists typically work in outpatient care centers, religious organizations, or elementary and secondary schools. Some duties a therapist in this specialty may do include the following:

– Help clients make decisions
– Diagnose and treat disorders, whether mental or emotional
– Assist clients with major life changes, such as loss of a job or a divorce

Educational requirements for a job in marriage and family therapy typically include a Master’s degree in psychology, counseling, social work, or a related field. Most jobs will also require a license to practice, which requires up to 4,000 hours of clinical work. Workers in this field will need to be compassionate and have good interpersonal, listening, and speaking skills.

According to the BLS, in 2014 most marriage and family therapists had salaries in the range of $30,510 and $80,650. Some of the top-paying metro areas for these therapists include Raleigh, North Carolina; Reno-Sparks, Nevada; and Salinas and Bakersfield-Delano, California.

3. Nutritionists and Dietitians

Nutritionists and dietitians are experts when it comes to creating meal plans or programs for an individual or group looking to reach certain health goals. These health experts typically work in a hospital setting, clinic, or doctor’s office. Some nursing homes or schools may also employ a nutritionist.

Some states do not require a license to practice in this field; however, many employers may require certification nonetheless. Unlicensed nutritionists may find jobs in alternative medicine centers or other non-clinical settings. There is a variety of nutrition certification programs available. According to the Commission on Dietetic Registration, Registered Dietitians and Registered Dietitian Nutritionists must:

– Complete a Bachelor’s Degree from a U.S. regionally accredited school or foreign equivalent
– Meet current minimum requirements of the Didactic Program in Dietetics
– Complete a supervised practice program
– Complete the Registration Examination for Dietitians
– Pay an annual registration fee
– Comply with the Professional Development Portfolio re-certification requirements

As a professional nutritionist or dietitian, you’ll find the best paying jobs in California, Maryland, and Nevada, according to the BLS. As of 2014, the salary range for nutritionists in the U.S. was between approximately $33,500 and $82,280, with the highest paying industry being educational support services.

4. Health Teacher

Health teachers are typically employed by schools, community health centers, hospitals, or doctor’s offices. These educators teach students, ranging from children to adults, general health courses in areas such as physical fitness, sex education, and mental health.

Entry-level health teachers are required to have a minimum of a four-year degree in a public health-related field. Some states may require additional licenses or teaching credentials.

The salary range for health educators in the U.S. in 2014 ranges from approximately $29,650 to $100,810. The best-paying states for health teachers include Maryland, Washington DC, and Georgia.

5. Child and Family Social Workers

Social workers provide social and psychological services to children and families. Typical workplaces include schools, residential care facilities, or state Government agencies. Child and family social workers may offer help with adoptions or placing children in foster care, address behavioral or truancy issues, or help increase the overall well-being of a child or family.

Social workers are required to have a Bachelor’s degree in Social work. More advanced careers in social work will require a Master’s degree, clinical experience, and state licensure.

In 2014, the salary range for child and family social workers was approximately $27,500 to $72,510, according the BLS. States with the highest paid social workers include Connecticut, New Jersey, and Minnesota. Most social workers in this specialty have jobs in the industries of family services, government, or elementary and secondary schools. It is expected that employment in the field of social work, with a focus on child and family services, will grow by 15 percent through the year 2022.

6. Rehabilitation Counselor

Rehabilitation counselors assist those with difficulties resulting from birth defects, disease, or other issues that have affected their independence or employability. Many rehab counselors work in industries such as vocational rehabilitation services, residential care facilities, or medical hospitals.

A Master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling or a similar field, as well as a certification or license, is needed to enter the field as a rehabilitation counselor. Some employers will hire graduates of a Bachelor’s program. However, they will not be able to provide the full range of services that a graduate with a Master’s degree would. The advanced degree teaches the skills and techniques needed to provide counseling, whereas the Bachelor’s only teaches students about the issues faces and types of services that can be provided.

In 2014, salaries for rehab counselors ranged from approximately $21,200 to $66,030. Some of the best-paying metro areas for counselors included Trenton-Ewing, New Jersey; Springfield, Illinois; and Kalamazoo-Portage, Michigan. Between 2012 and 2022, the BLS projects the career field to grow by as much as 20 percent due to the increase in rehabilitation needs for the elderly, veterans and disabled.

7. Community Health Workers

Helping communities improve their overall health, community health workers implement health programs on behalf of health organizations to promote healthy living. This is done through community outreach, education, counseling, and advocacy. Some services provided may include blood pressure screenings and first aid.

Although some employers may not require formal education, a Bachelor’s degree in health education or a health-related field is often required.

Community health workers in the United States earned salaries in the range of approximately $20,790 to $65,150 in 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The top paying states for these public health workers include Washington, DC, South Carolina, and Nevada.

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