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Ph.D. in Public Health Salary – 2021


Written By: Editorial Staff @ NursingProcess.org

Life expectancy in the U.S. has increased dramatically over the past two centuries. While many people mistakenly attribute this increase to medical science, public health is behind the advances in cleaner water, better sanitary conditions, better nutrition, and the control of infectious diseases that have prolonged human life expectancy. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for Ph.D.-educated public health professionals has increased significantly. The average Ph.D. in public health salary in the U.S. is $110,300 although there is a great deal of variation both regionally and by public health specialty. With average compensation that tops $150,000 annually, Washington State pays the highest Ph.D. in public health salary; in Mississippi, however, Ph.D.-educated public health officials can anticipate earning barely one-third of that figure ($53,960.) Biostatisticians, epidemiologists, and health policy analysts are the three public health specialties that earn the highest salaries.

How much do Ph.D. in public health graduates make? This article provides an in-depth look at the salary for Ph.D. in public health graduates in 2021.


Is There A High Demand For Ph.D. in Public Health Graduates?


The COVID-19 epidemic has had a significant impact upon the demand for five public health specialties: epidemiology, community health, health education, public policy and global health. Mounting concerns about climate change will likely increase demand for the sixth public health specialty, environmental health.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for epidemiologists is projected to rise 30 percent between 2020 and 2030, while demand for health educators and community health specialists will rise 17 percent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics subsumes health policy analysts into the larger Health Services Managers category for whom demand is projected to increase by 32 percent between 2020 and 2030. Meanwhile, demand for environmental specialists is expected to increase over the same decade at 8 percent, an average rate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t break out Ph.Ds. from other professionals in these fields, but since public health Ph.Ds. frequently work as research designers, project managers and other types of leaders in their fields, demand for their specific services should be high, and this will be reflected in the average Ph.D. in public health salary.


What Career Opportunities Exist For Ph.D. in Public Health Graduates?


Ph.-D.-educated public health specialists will find a range of employment opportunities in both the private and public sectors:

Epidemiology: Ph.D.-educated epidemiologists are often tapped to lead investigations conducted by major medical centers, foundations and governmental agencies into the causes, incidence, distribution and control of diseases. Some epidemiologists use their biostatistical training to study the effects of environmental factors or to look at the causes and effects of specific health-related concerns like diabetes or obesity. Epidemiologists also become university professors and directors of clinical research at medical and pharmaceutical research labs.

Community health: Ph.D.-educated community health professionals develop programs and initiatives that benefit the health of the overall population. They may work for private health organizations or for federal, state, or local governments.

Health education: Health educators with Ph.Ds. work in a variety of academic, clinical, community, and corporate settings. In hospitals, they design and implement programs for patients about medical procedures and chronic diseases. They may also write grants and organize fundraisers for nonprofits, and develop health screenings and health risk assessments for private companies.

Public policy: Health policy Ph.Ds. lead data-driven research on a host of managerial, operational and strategic issues facing public and private organizations. They design financing and delivery systems for healthcare industry organizations and advise government officials who are shaping federal, state, and local healthcare delivery systems.

Environmental health: Ph.D.-educated environmental health experts are employed in many different capacities, including environmental toxicologist, environmental health and safety analyst, industrial hygienist, and ecological statistician. They also work as environmental epidemiologists and as environmental risk assessment specialists.

Employment opportunities exist for public health professionals with Ph.Ds. in all specialties at federal, state, and local agencies. In addition, most Ph.D.-educated public health professionals are qualified to teach at colleges and universities.

Finally, a significant number of physicians also pursue Ph.Ds. in public health. These physicians tend to be doctors of internal medicine, pediatricians, family care practitioners, or other primary healthcare providers though a significant minority are psychiatrists. Many of these dual public health Ph.Ds./MDs hold faculty positions and divide their time between clinical work and research.


Hourly Salary For Ph.D. in Public Health Graduates


What is the average Ph.D. in public health salary per hour in 2021? On average, the Ph.D. in public health salary per hour in 2021 is $53.03. Ph.D.-educated public health professionals reach this earning milestone somewhere between their 10th and 19th year of employment. At the start of their careers, Ph-D.-educated public health professionals earn $31.16 an hour, but by the time they’ve worked two decades or more, they earn $79 an hour, which is more than one and a half times their entry-level hourly earnings.

Of course, “hourly salary” is an imprecise metric when applied to public health Ph.D. compensation since the overwhelming majority of Ph-D.-educated professionals are salaried employees, and a salary is a fixed biweekly or monthly payment that doesn’t depend upon the number of hours worked. Breaking down a salary into hourly increments, however, provides a useful means of analyzing a professional’s salary at various points within his or her own career. It’s also a good way of comparing that salary to the salaries of other professionals.

Hourly pay rates are heavily influenced by industry and market pay rates for people doing similar work in a similar industry in a given locality. Since a public health Ph.D. can be used in many different industries, there is a very wide range of hourly pay rates associated with employment in the various public health specialties. Public health professionals who specialize in health policy and go into management earn a median pay of $104,280 a year, which means Ph-D-educated professionals probably earn considerably more than that. Epidemiologists, on the other hand, earn a median pay of $74,560 a year. While epidemiologists with Ph.Ds. are likely to earn salaries at the high end of their range, they probably don’t earn as much as Ph.D.-educated public health professionals who specialize in health policy. Community health workers earn a median pay of $48,140 a year, so Ph.D.-educated public health professionals who chose to specialize in community health probably earn less than public health Ph.Ds. who chose to specialize in health policy or epidemiology.

Level of Experience Earnings
Entry-Level$31.16
1-4 Years of Experience$37.66
5-9 Years of Experience$47.28
10-19 Years of Experience$61.69
20 Years or More Experience$79.93
Average Earnings$53.03


Starting Salary For Ph.D. in Public Health Graduates


What is the starting salary for Ph.D. in public health graduates in 2021? The average starting Ph.D. in public health salary in 2021 is $31.16 an hour, which comes to $5,400 a month or $64,820 a year. Ph.D.-educated public health professionals who are just starting their careers, in other words, earn about twice as much as employees across all occupations in the U.S. whose average entry-level salary is $32,592 a year.

Although very little data has been collected on entry-level salaries for Ph.D.-educated public health professionals by specialty, those entry-level salaries can be expected to vary by specialty just as the hourly pay rates for Ph.D.-educated professionals vary. Public health professionals who earn Ph.Ds. in health policy are likely to make higher entry-level salaries than public health professionals who earn Ph.Ds. in epidemiology, and both are likely to make higher entry-level salaries than public health professionals who earn Ph.Ds. in community health.

Entry-level salaries are lower than average salaries to compensate for onboarding expenses that can include orientation costs, learning materials, and the opportunity costs associated with assigning seasoned employees to supervise and mentor new hires. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, the average cost for a new hire is $4,129, and that amount is probably higher when the new employee is joining an organization higher up in its vertical hierarchy.

Additionally, entry-level salaries also depend upon how competitive any given job market is. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown a spotlight on U.S. shortages of qualified public health professionals. In 2008, the Association of Schools and Programs in Public Health predicted that by 2020, the U.S. would be facing a nationwide shortage of more than 250,000 public health workers, and this, in fact, has come to pass at a time when the need for qualified public health professionals has never been higher. It is likely that the average Ph.D. in public health salary for entry-level employees will increase over the next few years.

Hourly$31.16
Monthly$5,400
Annual$64,820


Average Salary For Ph.D. in Public Health Graduates


What is the average Ph.D. in public health salary in 2021? On average, the salary for Ph.D. in public health graduates in 2021 is $53.03 an hour, which multiplies out to $9,190 a month or $110,300 a year. This is nearly twice as much as the average salary for all occupations across the U.S ($56,310). As we have seen, however, this figure may be misleading since public health professionals’ salaries vary greatly according to specialty.

The average Ph.D. in public health salary also varies greatly according to geographic location. This is partly driven by cost of living indices, but an additional factor, possibly even more important, is the different ways that public health services are delivered in different states. Though public health professionals work in a great number of settings, including hospitals, universities, nonprofits and private corporations, state and local government agencies have traditionally provided the most employment opportunities. (This began to change after the Great Recession of the late 2000s when approximately 50,000 state and local public health-related jobs disappeared, according to a study published by The American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 2018.)

The administration of public health at the state and local level can be either centralized or decentralized. In some states, decision-making authority is retained by a unified local and state health agency while in others, it’s retained by local public health agencies across the state. This amplifies the effects that local attitudes towards the importance of public health at the county and municipal level have on the average salary for Ph.D. in public health. In Missouri, for example, where local public health agencies operate independently of one another and independent of administrative oversight from federal and state public health agencies, per capita spending on public health services is $7; in New Mexico, where county public health offices are overseen by the state's Department of Health, per capita spending is $114. It’s not surprising that the average Ph.D. in public health salary in New Mexico is 12 percent higher than it is in Missouri.

Hourly$53.03
Monthly$9,190
Annual$110,300


Salary For Ph.D. in Public Health Graduates By Level Of Experience


The more years you spend on a job, the better you get at performing the responsibilities that the job entails, so the more cost-effective it is to employ you. The average Ph.D. in public health salary reflects this: Ph.D.-educated public health professionals with one to four years of experience make 21 percent more than entry-level Ph.D.-educated professionals and Ph.D.-educated public health professionals with five to nine years of experience make 52 percent more than entry-level Ph.D.-educated professionals. A Ph.D.-educated public health professional who has 10 to 19 years of experience will make an average salary for a Ph.D. in public health that’s 30 percent higher than a counterpart with five to nine years of experience and nearly twice as much as a colleague who’s just starting out in the profession. If you continue in your field for two decades, you can anticipate a salary for Ph.D. in public health that is more than two and a half times your starting salary. This is a far more dramatic increase than is seen in most professions.

Why are experienced Ph.D.-educated public health professionals paid so highly? Part of the reason is due to employers’ internal system of promotions and step increases. Many Ph-D-educated public health professionals work for federal, state, and local governments that award pay raises automatically with length of service. Many others work for universities and other academic institutions that use a similar system for pay raises.

The COVID pandemic has also increased demand for public health consultants, particularly in conjunction with employee shortages that are the aftermath of the wave of layoffs related to the Great Recession. A high Ph.D. in public health salary for more experienced employees can be seen as a retention strategy designed to help ensure Ph.D.-educated professionals stay on an employer’s payroll.

Level of Experience Hourly Monthly Annual
Entry-Level $31.16 $5,400 $64,820
1-4 Years of Experience $37.66 $6,530 $78,330
5-9 Years of Experience $47.28 $8,200 $98,350
10-19 Years of Experience $61.69 $10,690 $128,310
20 Years or More Experience $79.93 $13,850 $166,250


Average Annual Compensation For Ph.D. in Public Health Graduates


Though a public health professional who works for a state or local government agency may make a lower average Ph.D. in public health salary who opts to work in the private sector, he or she may earn a higher compensation package overall. Why? Because salary is not the only determinant of compensation. To get the full story about what a job is worth, you must also look at what benefits go along with the job.

Job benefits are compensation awarded to employees in addition to salaries or wages. Employees like benefits because they’re a nontaxable form of compensation; employers like benefits because they sweeten the pot in terms of attracting qualified employees. Some benefits like workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance are mandated; other benefits are offered at an employer’s discretion. Ph-D.-educated public health professionals typically receive benefits that include paid time off in the form of vacations, holidays and sick time; medical, dental and vision insurance for themselves and their family members; employer contributions to retirement plans; transit assistance; and career development assistance.

Ph.D.-educated public health professionals working for state and local governments typically earn annual benefits that have a valuation of $60,271, which amounts to 62 percent of their total yearly salary ($97,920). In contrast, Ph.D.-educated professionals working in the private sector typically earn annual benefits with a valuation of $49,704, which amounts to 42 percent of their yearly salary ($117,650). Between salaries and benefits, private sector Ph.Ds. in public health earn 6 percent more than their public sector counterparts ($167,354 compared with $158,191). But the generous benefit package that public sector public health Ph.Ds. receive go a long way toward addressing that disparity.

Component Private Industry State and Local Government
Paid Leave $12,384 $12,022
Supplemental Pay $5,857 $1,582
Insurance $13,054 $18,508
Retirement and Savings $5,690 $19,616
Legally Required $12,719 $8,700
Total Benefits $49,704 $60,271
Average Annual Salary $117,650 $97,920
Total Average Compensation $167,354 $158,191


How Does Ph.D. in Public Health Salary Compare To Other Public Health Degrees?


Like the nursing profession, public health offers two terminal degrees. Simply put, the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in public health is geared toward scientists who are interested in advancing knowledge while the Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) is designed for professionals who are interested in working in the field. In actuality, however, there is a great deal of overlap in the work that these two types of terminal degree recipients are qualified to do.

Ph.Ds. in public health typically earn salaries that are 2 percent higher than their counterparts with DrPH degrees. They earn 32 percent more than professionals who’ve earned Master of Public Health (MPH) degrees and 50 percent more than professionals who’ve earned Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH) degrees. Clearly, if earning a high salary is one of your main career objectives, earning a Ph.D. in public health is a worthwhile endeavor.

Rank Type Of Degree Average Salary Per Year Comparison
Number %
1 Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health Sciences (PhD) $110,300 0 0.00%
2 Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) $107,760 2,540 2.36%
3 Master of Public Health (MPH) $83,680 26,620 31.81%
4 Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH) $73,530 36,770 50.01%



WHAT IS THE AVERAGE PH.D. IN PUBLIC HEALTH SALARY BY STATE?

(Listed in the alphabetical order, below you will find the average salary for Ph.D. in Public Health graduates in every state for 2021.)

1. Alabama: Alabama’s per capita expenditures on public health are only $47 a year, so it’s not surprising Ph.D.-educated public health officials in the Cotton State make 19 percent less than the national average. The average salary for Ph.D. in public health graduates in Alabama is $43.17 an hour or $89,800 annually. Alabama’s county-level public health services have been significantly underfunded throughout the past decade, which is one of the factors behind the high numbers of COVID-19 cases in this state.


Hourly $43.17
Annual $89,800


2. Alaska: Alaska has the highest per capita expenditures on public health services of any of the fifty states: $219 in 2020. In the Last Frontier State, Ph.D.-educated public health professionals earn $58.16 an hour or $120,970 a year, which is 10 percent higher than the U.S. average.

Hourly $58.16
Annual $120,970


3. Arizona: Arizona has a decentralized public health system. The Arizona Department of Health Services is the main public health service provider at the state level. Fifteen county health departments provide local public health services independent of the Department of Health Services, however. Per capita expenditures on public health services in the Grand Canyon State amount to $24 annually. The average Ph.D. in public health salary in Arizona is $37.90 an hour or $78,830 a year, but Ph.D.-educated professionals in Phoenix make 2 percent less than that.

Hourly $37.90
Annual $78,830


4. Arkansas: Public health services in Arkansas are centralized within the state’s Department of Health. There are no public sector local public health agencies in the Natural State. Per capita public health expenditures amount to $46 annually. Ph.D.-educated public health professionals can expect to average $42.57 an hour or $88,540 a year.

Hourly $42.57
Annual $88,540


5. California: County public health agencies in California operate independently of the California Department of Public Health. Between expenditures at the state and local levels, the Golden State spends approximately $70 a year on public health services. The average Ph.D. in public health salary in California is $61.32 an hour or $127,540 a year. Salaries vary by metropolitan region across the state: Ph.D.-educated public health professionals in Oakland and San Francisco earn 18 percent more than the state average while their counterparts in Fresno earn 20 percent less. Public health Ph.Ds. in the San Jose Metropolitan Area are the highest-paid Ph.D. in public health professionals with salaries that average $183,050 annually.

Hourly $61.32
Annual $127,540


6. Colorado: The average salary for Ph.D. in public health graduates in Colorado is $41.75 an hour or $86,830 annually. Salaries in Denver are 2 percent lower, but salaries in Colorado Springs are 25 percent higher, reflecting the fact that the Centennial State has a decentralized public health system where each locality funds public health services at its own discretion. Per capita health care expenditures in Colorado come to $55 a year.

Hourly $41.75
Annual $86,830


7. Connecticut: In Connecticut, state and local public health care providers work independently of each other. The state’s total public health care expenditures came to $35 per resident in 2020. Ph.D. public health graduates earned $117,990 a year, which breaks down to $56.73 an hour.

Hourly $56.73
Annual $117,990


8. Delaware: In Delaware, public health services are administered through the State's Division of Public Health. Per capita public health care expenditures in 2020 totaled $37. Public health professionals with Ph.Ds. can expect to earn $53.40 an hour or $117,070 a year on average.

Hourly $53.40
Annual $111,070


9. Florida: Florida’s municipal and county public health departments share responsibilities with the state’s Department of Health, which is the Sunshine State’s lead agency for public health services. The average Ph.D. in public health salary in Florida is $47.11 an hour or $97,980 a year, but Ph.D.-educated professionals in Miami earn 6 percent more than that. Florida is one of the states hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, so in the past year, there’s been a drive to bolster public health services. Even so, Florida’s per capita expenditures on public health services in 2020 remained low at $20.

Hourly $47.11
Annual $97,980


10. Georgia: As the lead agency for the prevention of disease and the promotion of wellness, the Georgia Department of Public Health works closely with local public health agencies and nonprofits throughout the state. Burnout is high among public health employees in the Peach State, however. The average Ph.D. in public health salary in Georgia is $39.98 an hour or $83,150 a year, though salaries in Atlanta run 4 percent higher. The Peach State spends about $28 a year per resident on public health-related expenses.

Hourly $39.98
Annual $83,150


11. Hawaii: On lists of the nation’s healthiest states, Hawaii often comes out on top, so it’s not surprising that the Aloha State pays $126 per resident on public health services. Public health professionals with Ph.Ds. can anticipate averaging $54.80 an hour or $113,980 a year. Hawaii has a centralized public health service delivery system, so the Hawaii State Department of Health, which oversees public health, works in tandem with local public health agencies.

Hourly $54.80
Annual $113,980


12. Idaho: Idaho has a decentralized public health service delivery system that consists of a Department of Health and Welfare, and seven independent health districts. Ph.D.-educated public health professionals earn $44.07 an hour or $91,670 a year in the Gem State, and annual per capita public health expenditures average $85.

Hourly $44.07
Annual $91,670


13. Illinois: The average Ph.D. in public health salary in Illinois is $53.38 an hour or $111,040 a year, but Ph.D.-educated public health professionals in the Chicago Metropolitan area average 5 percent more than that. The Illinois Department of Public Health maintains seven regional offices spread throughout the state, but local health departments offer services more or less independently of state oversight. Per capita public health service expenditures in the Land of Lincoln come to approximately $33 a year.

Hourly $53.38
Annual $111,040


14. Indiana: In Indiana, public health services are administered at the state level by the State Department of Health and at the local level, by 93 county health departments, which operate independently of state oversight. The Hoosier State spent $15 per resident on public health services in 2020. The average salary for Ph.D. in public health graduates in Indiana is $37.56 an hour or $78,130 a year, but Ph.D.-educated public health professionals in Indianapolis make 33 percent more than that.

Hourly $37.56
Annual $78,130


15. Iowa: County-level public health agencies in Iowa are largely led by employees of local government who don’t answer directly to the Iowa Department of Public Health. Per capita expenditures on public health services in the Hawkeye State come in at $85. Iowa’s public health Ph.Ds. make $50.82 an hour or $105,700 annually.

Hourly $50.82
Annual $105,700


16. Kansas: Public health services at the state level in Kansas are administered through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The Sunflower State’s 105 local health departments, which are also responsible for delivering public health services, are overseen by local governments. In 2020, Kansas spent $15 per person on public health services. Public health Ph.Ds. in the Sunflower State average $39.84 an hour or $82,860 a year.

Hourly $39.84
Annual $82,860


17. Kentucky: Ph.D.-educated public health professionals in Kentucky average $36.90 an hour or $76,760 annually. The Bluegrass State’s per capita expenditures on public health services amount to $36 a year. Kentucky’s Department of Public Health oversees the programs that are carried out at the local level.

Hourly $36.90
Annual $76,760


18. Louisiana: Public health services in Louisiana are regulated through the state’s Department of Health and Hospitals, and carried out through a system of city and county health departments. The Bayou State spends $26 per resident on public health services. Louisiana pays the second-lowest salaries to Ph.D.-educated public health professionals in any of the 50 states: Public health Ph.Ds. In Louisiana average $35.77 an hour or $74,410 a year. In New Orleans, public health Ph.Ds. earn salaries that are 11 percent lower than the state average.

Hourly $35.77
Annual $74,410


19. Maine: In Maine, public health Ph.Ds. earn $48.24 an hour or $100,330 annually on average. Maine has eight public health districts under the jurisdiction of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and five Tribal jurisdictions that operate independently. The Pine Tree State had per capita public health expenditures of $34 in 2020.

Hourly $48.24
Annual $100,330


20. Maryland: Maryland is one of the states that offers the highest-paid Ph.D. in public health salaries: The average salary for Ph.D. in public health graduates in Maryland is $64.01 an hour or $133,150 a year, though Ph.D.-educated public health professionals in Baltimore make 16 percent less than that. Services delivered by the Old Line State’s 23 local health departments and Baltimore’s public health system are overseen by the Public Health Services division of the Maryland Department of Health. Per capita expenditures on Maryland public health services come to $45 annually.

Hourly $64.01
Annual $133,150


21. Massachusetts: Though the average Ph.D. in public health salary in Massachusetts is $57.68 or $119,980 a year, Ph.D.-educated public health professionals in the Greater Boston Metropolitan Area earn 1 percent more than that. The Bay State spends $87 per capita annually providing public health-related services to residents. Massachusetts has a state-level Department of Public Health, but its 351 city and town public health agencies operate autonomously in the delivery of local public health services.

Hourly $57.68
Annual $119,980


22. Michigan: Michigan’s county health departments are overseen by local officials rather than by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. Michigan’s per capita expenditures on public health services came to $17 a head in 2020. The average Ph.D. in public health salary in Michigan is $45.33 an hour or $94,290 a year, which is 15 percent than the average salary for Ph.D.-educated public health professionals working throughout all parts of the U.S. Public health Ph.Ds. in Detroit, however, make 20 percent more than this.

Hourly $45.33
Annual $94,290


23. Minnesota: The average salary for Ph.D. in public health graduates in Minnesota is $48.37 an hour or $100,600 a year, but Ph.D.-educated public health professionals in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Metropolitan Area earn salaries that are 22 percent higher than that amount. Minnesota’s pubic health service delivery model is predicated around county public health agencies as well as community health boards. County public health agencies operate more or less autonomously, but community health boards cooperate closely with the Minnesota Department of Health. Per capita expenditures on public health services in the Land of Lakes come to $107 a year.

Hourly $48.37
Annual $100,600


24. Mississippi: The lowest-paid Ph.D. in public health salaries are found in Mississippi where Ph.D.-educated public health professionals earn $25.94 an hour or $53,960 a year, which is more than 50 percent lower than the average salary for these professionals throughout all parts of the U.S. Mississippi’s Department of Health exercises oversight over the state’s 82 county-level public health agencies. In 2020, the Magnolia State spent $16 per resident on public health services.

Hourly $25.94
Annual $53,960


25. Missouri: While the average salary for Ph.D. in public health graduates in Missouri is $39 an hour or $81,110 a year, Ph.D.-educated public health professionals in the Kansas City Metropolitan Region can count on making 32 percent more than that. Missouri spends $7 per resident on public health services. The Show Me State’s 114 local public health agencies are funded through local property taxes and operate independently both of one another and of the state’s Department of Health and Senior Services.

Hourly $39.00
Annual $81,110


26. Montana: Montana allotted $19 per capita toward public health-related services in 2020. The state’s county and tribal health departments deliver public health services independent of jurisdiction by the state’s Department of Public Health and Human Services. Ph.D.-educated public health professionals in the Big Sky State average $41.63 an hour or $86,600 a year.

Hourly $41.63
Annual $86,600


27. Nebraska: Nebraska public health Ph.Ds. make $45.09 an hour or $95,860 a year on average. The state’s public health service delivery system is decentralized so that local public health agencies operate independently of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services . In 2020, the Cornhusker State spent $41 per resident on public health-related services.

Hourly $46.09
Annual $95,860


28. Nevada: The second highest-paid Ph.D. in public health workers can be found in Nevada where Ph.D.-educated public health professionals earn $66.29 an hour or $137,880 annually on average. In Las Vegas, the Silver State’s largest city, public health Ph.Ds. make 4 percent more than the state average. Nevada’s Department of Health and Human Services exercises little or no oversight over the state’s local public health agencies. Per capita expenditures on public health services in Nevada come to $12 annually.

Hourly $66.29
Annual $137,880


29. New Hampshire: Ph.Ds. in public health average $53.42 an hour or #11,120 a year in the Granite State. New Hampshire spent $24 per person on public health services in 2020. Local public health programs and services are delivered under the auspices of the state’s central Department of Health and Human Services.

Hourly $53.42
Annual $111,120


30. New Jersey: New Jersey’s per capita expenditures on public health services averaged $31 per resident in 2020. New Jersey has a network of 94 local health departments that deliver public health services independently of one another and independently of the state’s Department of Health. The average Ph.D. in public health salary in New Jersey is $62.99 an hour or $131,020 a year, but it’s likely that public health professionals who work in cities like Newark that are statistically part of the Greater New York Metropolitan Area earn more than that.

Hourly $62.99
Annual $131,020


31. New Mexico: Public health Ph.Ds. in the Land of Enchantment average $43.71 an hour or $90,920 annually. Public health Ph.Ds. in Albuquerque earn 12 percent more than the state average. New Mexico’s 32 county health departments operate under the jurisdiction of the state’s Department of Health . New Mexico spends $151 per resident annually on public health-related services.

Hourly $43.71
Annual $90,920


32. New York: The average Ph.D. in public health salary in New York is $63.90 an hour or $132,910 a year, but in New York City, Ph.D.-educated public health professionals earn 34 percent more than that. In fact, New York City is the highest-paid Ph.D. in public health market outside the San Francisco Bay Area. New York’s local county health departments operate autonomously without oversight from the state’s Department of Health. Per capita expenditures on public health services in the Empire State came to $85 per resident in 2020.

Hourly $63.90
Annual $132,910


33. North Carolina: In 2020, North Carolina spent $15 per resident on public health-related services. The average Ph.D. in public health salary in North Carolina is $49.42 an hour or $102,790 annually, which is 7 percent less than the national average. Public health Ph.Ds. in Raleigh earn salaries that are 11 percent less than the state average. North Carolina’s local health districts are divvied up into 10 regions that are more or less autonomous and operate outside the jurisdiction of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.

Hourly $49.42
Annual $102,790


34. North Dakota: North Dakota Ph.Ds. in public health can anticipate earning $49.39 an hour or $102,740 a year. The state invests $61 a year in public health-related services. North Dakota’s public health system is decentralized; its 28 local public health units operate more or less autonomously in a loose partnership with the North Dakota Department of Health.

Hourly $49.39
Annual $102,740


35. Ohio: Per capita expenditures on public health-related services in Ohio came to $16 per resident in 2020. The average Ph.D. in public health salary in Ohio is $51.42 an hour or $106,960 annually, but public health professionals in Columbus, the Buckeye State’s largest city, make 11 percent less than that. The Buckeye State’s 113 local health departments and public health departments maintain local governance but often choose to work together under the guidance of the state Department of Health.

Hourly $51.42
Annual $106,960


36. Oklahoma: The Oklahoma State Department of Health provides technical support and guidance to the state’s 68 county health departments, which are responsible for providing public health services throughout the Sooner State. In addition, the cities of Tulsa and Oklahoma City maintain their own health departments. Ph.Ds. in public health earn $42.88 an hour or $89,200 a year. Oklahoma spends $56 per resident annually on public health-related services.

Hourly $42.88
Annual $89,200


37. Oregon: Oregon spends $35 a year per resident on public health-related services. Each county in the Beaver State has its own agency that’s responsible for delivering public health services, and none is under the direct jurisdiction of the Oregon Health Authority. Public health Ph.Ds. in the Beaver State average $48.64 an hour or $101,170 a year.

Hourly $48.64
Annual $101,170


38. Pennsylvania: The average Ph.D. in public health salary in Pennsylvania is $57.57 an hour or $119,740 a year, but public health Ph.Ds. in Philadelphia can count on making 9 percent more than this. In 2020, the Keystone State spent $15 per resident on public health-related services. The state has six county and four municipal health departments that act in concert with the state’s Department of Health.

Hourly $57.57
Annual $119,740


39. Rhode Island: The State of Rhode Island’s Department of Health is responsible for all public health-related services that are delivered to the Ocean State’s residents. Rhode Island spends $59 per resident on public health services. Public health Ph.Ds. in the Ocean State can expect to earn $56.73 an hour or $118,000 a year.

Hourly $56.73
Annual $118,000


40. South Carolina: South Carolina residents receive public health-related services through a network of public health clinics that operate under the auspices of the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control. The average salary for Ph.D. in public health graduates in South Carolina is $43.53 an hour or $90,550 a year, which is 18 percent less than the average salary for Ph.D.-level public health graduates throughout all parts of the U.S. Per capita expenditures on public health-related services in the Palmetto State equal $28 a year.

Hourly $43.53
Annual $90,550


41. South Dakota: South Dakota’s Department of Health maintains primary responsibility for the delivery of public health-related services through the state’s network of regional and county health offices. In 2020, public health services cost the Mount Rushmore State $36 per resident. Public health Ph.Ds. average $42.34 an hour or $88,070 a year in South Dakota.

Hourly $42.34
Annual $88,070


42. Tennessee: The average salary for Ph.D. in public health graduates in Tennessee is $55.52 an hour or $115,480 a year. Public health Ph.Ds. in Nashville make 1 percent less than that, however, while public health Ph.Ds. in Memphis make 20 percent less than this. The Volunteer State uses a mixed governance service delivery model in which the state’s six urban county health departments operate more or less autonomously but the state’s 89 rural county health departments are supervised directly by the Tennessee Department of Health. The Volunteer State’s per capita expenditures on public health-related services amounted to $55 per resident in 2020.

Hourly $55.52
Annual $115,480


43. Texas: While the average Ph.D. in public health salary in Texas is $45.48 an hour or $94,600 a year, there’s a great deal of salary variation from city to city within the state. In Austin, El Paso and Houston, salaries are 14 percent, 8 percent and 2 percent less respectively than the state average while in Arlington and Dallas/Fort Worth, they are 11 percent more. The Lone Star State’s agencies responsible for delivering public health services are a loose consortium operating under the auspices of the Texas Department of State Health Services. Texas spent $20 per resident on public health services in 2020.

Hourly $45.48
Annual $94,600


44. Utah: Utah’s Ph.D.-educated public health workforce can anticipate earning $49.45 an hour or $102,850 a year on average. Utah’s per capita spending on public health-related services was $35 in 2020. The Beehive State’s 13 health districts, through which public health services are delivered, operate independently of one another as well as independently of the Utah Department of health.

Hourly $49.45
Annual $102,850


45. Vermont: In Vermont, professionals with Ph.Ds. in public health can count on averaging $50.31 an hour or $104,640 a year. The Green Mountain State spent $53 per resident on public health-related services in 2020. Vermont’s 12 local health offices are responsible for providing public health-related services and operate under the auspices of the Vermont Department of Health.

Hourly $50.31
Annual $104,640


46. Virginia: Virginia’s 35 local health districts provide public health-related services to the state’s residents under the auspices of the Virginia Department of Health. Per capita public health expenditures were budgeted at $36 per resident in 2020. The average Ph.D. in public health salary in Virginia is $49.12 an hour or $102,160 a year, which is 7 percent less than the national average. Public health professionals with Ph.Ds. working closer to the District of Columbia probably earn more than that, however.

Hourly $49.12
Annual $102,160


47. Washington: Public health professionals with Ph.Ds. make the most in Washington State. The average Ph.D. in public health salary in Washington is $72.23 an hour or $159,240 annually. Public health Ph.Ds. based in Seattle make 7 percent more than that. Per capita expenditures on public health in the Evergreen State amounted to $48 in 2020. Washington’s 29 local health departments and districts operate autonomously and are not under the direct supervision of the Washington State Department of Health.

Hourly $72.23
Annual $150,240


48. West Virginia: In West Virginia, Ph.D.-educated public health professionals average $39.31 an hour or $81,770 a year, which is 35 percent less than the average salary for Ph.D.-educated professionals throughout the U.S. West Virginia spends $63 annually per resident on public health-related services. West Virginia’s public health services are delivered by means of a county-wide network of local health departments that are not directly answerable to the state’s Department of Health and Human Resources.

Hourly $39.31
Annual $81,770


49. Wisconsin: Wisconsin’s per capita expenditures on public health services comes to $18 a year. Though the average salary for Ph.D. in public health graduates in Wisconsin is $47.30 an hour or $98,390 annually, salaries for Ph.D.-educated public health professionals in Milwaukee are 10 percent higher. The Badger State’s local public health service delivery system is organized into five public health regions; within each region there are numerous county-level health departments. None of these departments is directly supervised by the state’s Department of Health Services.

Hourly $47.30
Annual $98,390


50. Wyoming: Wyoming’s public health Ph.Ds. make $48.20 an hour or $100,250 a year on average. Wyoming’s Department of Health oversees a network of public health nursing county offices that provide local public health services to the state’s residents. In 2020, the Cowboy State spent $29 per resident on public health-related services.

Hourly $48.20
Annual $100,250



What Are The 10 Highest And Lowest Paying States For Ph.D. in Public Health Graduates?


The highest-paid Ph.D. in public health salaries are found in Washington state where Ph.D.-educated public health professionals average $150,240 a year. Nevada is the second most lucrative state for Ph.D.-educated professionals with average salaries that are 8 percent lower than Washington State’s, while Maryland is third in pay rate rankings with average salaries that are 11 percent lower than Washington State’s.

Unsurprisingly, Mississippi is the state that offers the lowest-paid Ph.D. in public health salaries: Mississippi is one of the lowest-paying states for all types of healthcare-related occupations. In the Magnolia State, the average Ph.D. in public health salary is only $53,960 a year. Louisiana and Kentucky, the second and third lowest-paying states, offer average salaries to Ph.D.-educated professionals that are respectively 38 and 42 percent higher than Mississippi salaries.

Rank Highest Paying States Lowest Paying States
State Salary State Salary
1 Washington $150,240 Mississippi $53,960
2 Nevada $137,880 Louisiana $74,410
3 Maryland $133,150 Kentucky $76,760
4 New York $132,910 Indiana $78,130
5 New Jersey $131,020 Arizona $78,830
6 California $127,540 Missouri $81,110
7 Alaska $120,970 West Virginia $81,770
8 Massachusetts $119,980 Kansas $82,860
9 Pennsylvania $119,740 Georgia $83,150
10 Rhode Island $118,000 Montana $86,600


Average Ph.D. in Public Health Salary By City For 2021


Because so many public health Ph.Ds. are employed by state and local agencies that operate independently of one another, the salary for Ph.D. in public health can vary greatly from city to city in the same state. In California, for example, where the average salary for Ph.D. in public health is $127,540, salaries in Oakland and San Francisco in the San Francisco Bay Area are 18 percent higher while salaries in Fresno in the Central Valley are 19 percent lower. In Texas, where the average salary for Ph.D. in public health is $94,600, salaries in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area and the San Antonio Metropolitan Area are 11 percent higher.

San Francisco is both a city and a county, and its Department of Public Health historically has had the highest operating budget of all its departments; in 2014, the San Francisco Department of Public Health had an operating budget of $2 billion. In contrast, Fresno’s public health services have been significantly underfunded. The State of Texas’s public health services also suffer from chronic underfunding, but Tarrant County (where Fort Worth is located) spends $65 million annually on public health services, and Dallas County and Bexar County (where San Antonio is located) spend significant amounts on public health services as well.

City Hourly Annual
Albuquerque, NM $48.79 $101,480
Arlington, TX $50.70 $105,460
Atlanta, GA $41.71 $86,750
Austin, TX $39.32 $81,780
Baltimore, MD $53.78 $111,870
Boston, MA $58.34 $121,350
Charlotte, NC $52.10 $108,370
Chicago, IL $56.13 $116,750
Colorado Springs, CO $52.31 $108,800
Columbus, OH $45.79 $95,240
Dallas, TX $50.70 $105,460
Denver, CO $40.92 $85,110
Detroit, MI $54.38 $113,100
El Paso, TX $41.62 $86,570
Fort Worth, TX $50.70 $105,460
Fresno, CA $49.12 $102,170
Houston, TX $44.66 $92,890
Indianapolis, IN $49.97 $103,930
Jacksonville, FL $47.03 $97,820
Kansas City, MO $51.36 $106,820
Las Vegas, NV $68.87 $143,240
Long Beach, CA $61.78 $128,500
Los Angeles, CA $61.78 $128,500
Louisville, KY $46.33 $96,370
Memphis, TN $44.25 $92,030
Mesa, AZ $37.17 $77,320
Miami, FL $49.88 $103,760
Milwaukee, WI $51.83 $107,810
Minneapolis, MN $58.91 $122,540
Nashville, TN $55.21 $114,840
New Orleans, LA $31.70 $65,940
New York, NY $85.35 $177,520
Oakland, CA $72.49 $150,770
Oklahoma City, OK $47.09 $97,950
Omaha, NE $49.96 $103,920
Philadelphia, PA $62.77 $130,560
Phoenix, AZ $37.17 $77,320
Portland, OR $54.50 $113,370
Raleigh, NC $43.97 $91,450
Sacramento, CA $62.62 $130,240
San Antonio, TX $51.43 $106,980
San Diego, CA $60.56 $125,960
San Francisco, CA $72.49 $150,770
San Jose, CA $88.00 $183,050
Seattle, WA $77.09 $160,350
Tampa, FL $48.75 $101,410
Tucson, AZ $48.38 $100,640
Tulsa, OK $46.89 $97,540
Virginia Beach, VA $49.13 $102,190
Washington, DC $74.40 $154,750


What Is Salary Outlook For Ph.D. in Public Health Graduates?


An axiom of economics is that salaries increase as the demand for employees’ services increases. As noted above, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the demand for public health graduates at all education levels will heighten dramatically in the decade between 2020 and 2030, and this will impact Ph.D. in public health salary. The demand for some public health specialties will be greater than the demand for others. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be anticipated that the need for Ph.D.-educated public specialists in epidemiologists and biostatisticians will be particularly high, and, indeed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 30 percent rise in employment opportunities here.

Keep in mind, however, that the pandemic has had a deleterious effect on state and local budgets, which—unlike the federal government—don’t have the option of running a deficit. State and local governments quite possibly will not be able to increases the salaries they offer beyond the raises already factored into their pay scales, and many Ph.D.-educated public health professionals accept employment with state and local agencies. This may mean that salary for Ph.D. in public health will not rise as dramatically as demand for public health professionals might suggest.


3 Ways To Boost Your Ph.D. in Public Health Salary


Ph.D.-educated public health professionals who are looking for ways to augment their Ph.D. in public health salary have several alternatives available to them. Here are three:

• Teaching: Earning a Ph.D. qualifies you to teach at the post-secondary level. Explore becoming an adjunct professor at a community college near you or teaching through an online educational program. Teaching is looked upon as a prestigious sideline by many employers, so it’s unlikely that employers at your main job will object to this type of secondary employment.
• Consulting: Public health consulting can be a profitable venture since many government agencies and private companies are looking for contractors to do the necessary work their budgets won’t allow them to hire a full-time employee to do. Read your current employment contract carefully, though; many public health employers explicitly bar their employees from picking up side consulting gigs.
• Relocating: As you’ve learned above, the average Ph.D. in public health salary varies greatly from state to state and even from city to city in the same state. If you feel you’re not earning a high enough Ph.D. in public health salary, you always have the option of moving to a different geographic location where the pay is better.


Summing It Up


The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the singular importance of qualified public health professionals at all educational levels. The field requires a passion for health, but beyond that it’s large enough to accommodate individuals with either a quantitative or a qualitative bent to that passion. How much do Ph.D. in public health graduates make? The average Ph.D. in public health salary is generous.

The one downside to public health employment in the U.S., though, is that many public health-oriented jobs were eliminated during the Great Recession of the early 2000s, and despite the obvious need for public health services, these jobs are coming back slowly. So, it may take you a bit longer to find your dream job in public health than it might were you to pursue a more clinically related healthcare career. Once you find that job, however, you’ll find the salary for Ph.D. in public health graduates in 2021 is excellent.


Sources

We have used the following sources to compile the salary data on this page.

1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
2. Payscale.com
3. NP Editorial Assessment