Health educators bring knowledge, tools, and instruction about health and wellness to their audience. Health educators may work in schools, businesses, government agencies, and medical care settings.
This article will outline for you a health educator’s major duties, the education and other requirements needed, the 10-year employment outlook, as well as expected yearly earnings for individuals in this field.
How health educators spend their days depends greatly on the population they serve. For instance, a health educator working in a middle school classroom will have very different objectives and methods than a health educator working in a hospital.
However, all health educators impart to their audience information on the same basic topics:
- Disease prevention
Most health educators work in medical care settings, colleges and universities, schools, public health departments, nonprofit organizations, and private businesses. Health educators may work in a classroom setting. In other venues, they may be responsible for organizing and executing health-related events such as promoting and leading their group in a charity walk, hosting a health-awareness stand at a local fair where they lead games that test health knowledge, offering free screenings and assessments, and many other similar activities.
Because most of a health educator’s time is spent working directly with others, strong “people skills” are a must in this profession. While some of the work involves preparing materials, researching, and gathering data, the majority of a health educator’s work revolves around interaction with his or her audience and spending one-on-one time with individuals in schools, businesses, or organizations.
Education and Other Requirements
You will need to earn at least a bachelor’s degree to become a health educator. For many jobs, a master’s degree is required. A master’s is almost always necessary to advance beyond the entry-level health educator positions.
Holding a bachelor’s degree from a health education program with courses in psychology, human development, and a foreign language will prepare you well for a career in this field. Also, volunteer and internship hours impress potential employers.
A Master of Arts, Science, Education, or Public Health, with courses in health education (both school and public) and health promotion, is recommended for those seeking higher- level positions and advancement.
Health educators can earn accreditation through the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. (NCHEC). This organization is authorized to grant the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) status to individuals who meet all their requirements. If you would like to earn CHES accreditation, it is recommended that you do so at the end of the bachelor’s degree process. After earning the title of CHES, you must complete 75 hours of approved continuing education courses or seminars over a 5-year period to maintain this title.
While this accreditation is not required to get all health educator jobs, most government positions will require this certification of their employees. Being able to call yourself a CHES is a plus to employers, who are always seeking ways to narrow down the job candidate pool.
10-Year Employment Outlook
The job market for health educators in the medical, private, public, and nonprofit sectors is expected to grow faster than the average for all professions over the next 10 years. The supply must meet the demand as more and more institutions are, as a cost-saving tactic brought on by the ever-rising cost of healthcare, seeking to prevent illness rather than having to treat it after the fact. The public’s growing awareness and knowledge of wellness and disease prevention is also creating more demand for health educators in schools and the workplace. However, jobs in the public school education system may not experience the same fast rate of growth, due to budget cuts in schools.
The average yearly wage for a health educator is $44,000, ranging from $26,000 to $78,000, with the median ranging from $33,000 to $61,000. The median income level depends on the setting in which a health educator works.
- Median yearly incomes for health educators by type:
- Medical settings: $56,000
- Higher education: $49,000
- Government (including public schools): $43,000
- Outpatient centers: $36,000
- Individual and family services: $36,000
Opportunities for advancement and career changes are available for health educators as they earn higher degrees; complete further education hours; and take on managerial, supervisory, or administrative positions.