Will My MPH Salary Be Enough?

Financial gain is rarely the main motivation of a Master's of Public Health (MPH) student, but it is reasonable to question whether years of study and passion for public health can lead to both a rewarding career and a relatively worry-free financial life.

With so many different career paths and salary ranges in public health, a median MPH salary figure may prove to be too rough a guide. Here is a more realistic guide to some top and bottom MPH salary ranges to give an idea of what you can expect to earn.

What Is Enough?

A livable MPH salary depends very much on which state you live in, because cost of living varies dramatically from place to place. In Douglas County, Nebraska (home of Creighton University), a living wage is estimated to be $10.28 per hour for one adult with no children, which equates to an average annual salary of $21,382, based on 40 hours of work per week for 52 weeks of the year (based on this calculator). For comparison: In Los Angeles, that baseline hourly average would spike to $13.08 per hour for one adult with no children.

That said, a livable wage is just that – livable – and those who want to save for retirement, start a family and enjoy luxuries such as travel will see expenditures rise. Fortunately, even the lower-end MPH salaries pay far higher than the estimated baseline "livable" salary.

Top MPH Earners

Unsurprisingly, the top-earning MPH grads are in executive roles such as nonprofit executive director. This is, of course, a position that requires years of experience and a lot of hard work, but it carries a median salary of $120,400, according to a 2014 study by Charity Navigator.

Medical and health services managers, sometimes referred to as healthcare executives or healthcare administrators, sit at the higher end of the salary funnel with a median pay of $96,540 per year, based on a 2016 survey. Another advantage of this path is that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts the field will grow 17 percent from 2014–24, much faster than average across all occupations. 

A Happy Medium

Roles that involve high levels of expertise and research, such as epidemiologistsemergency management directors and environmental scientists and specialists, will receive sizable salaries of around the $70,000 per year. Biostatisticians are expected to be the highest earners among these types of careers, with median salaries sitting at around $80,500 per year according to the BLS. What’s more, biostatisticians are in demand, with job growth expected to be a whopping 34 percent between 2014–24.

The Lower End of the Scale

Thankfully, the lower end of the scale is not particularly low, with most positions clocking a median salary that sits between $40,000 and $50,000 annually. For example, medical clinical laboratory technologists have a median salary of $50,930, health educators’ median salary is $44,390 and respiratory therapists receive a median annual income of $58,670.

With all of this in mind, it is clear that a public health career path can offer comfortable salaries for MPH graduates. Those who are particularly ambitious, or interested in management or research specialists roles, will enjoy a far higher than average salary.

If you're ready to do well for yourself while doing good for others, find out more about getting an MPH online at Creighton University.