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How to Become a Health Educator – Education, Career, Salary

how to become a health educator

Health educators are the backbone of the well-being of a community. This is primarily because of their role of advocacy and education to improve the health outcomes and knowledgeability of communities. In fact, this enriching field allows the satisfaction of caring for others and teaching them about maintaining good health. Because of the profession’s tremendous qualities, the question of how to become a health educator is crucial and commonly asked.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the demand for health educators and community health workers will grow substantially between 2019-2029. With an expected growth rate of 13%, this profession is growing faster than average. To illustrate, its rate of growth highlights the increasing demand for cost-friendly ways to enhance healthcare outcomes in the US. Such an in-demand career offers various paths to success for work in a hospital, governmental agency, or non-profit organization.

Suppose you are looking to pursue a career in health education and wish to find a detailed answer to how to become a health educator. Then this article is here to help. Let’s look at what is a health educator. Then health education careers, how to become a health educator, health educator certification, and more. With this knowledge, you can make vital decisions about your future.

Let’s get started!

What is a Health Educator?

A certified health education specialist is an individual who creates and oversees health education plans for communities, families, and individuals. For the most part, the core objective of these initiatives is to allow people to maintain and uphold a healthy lifestyle. They also teach how to make wellness a crucial lifestyle. In addition, they help meet health objectives through simple lifestyle changes. In short, these professionals proffer the most relevant information about essential healthcare. As such, they prompt communities to develop healthy environments, policies, and lifestyle choices.

A health education specialist is also a data analyst. Data can be used to address requirements for health education programs and implement plans accordingly. A master-certified health education specialist can either be a generalist or have a particular practice area. Some standard titles and positions generally attributed to a health education specialist are as follows:

  • Health department planner
  • Health educational specialist supervisor
  • Program directors of health-related programs
  • Clinical research specialist
  • Infection prevention manager
  • Environmental health educator
  • Violence prevention program manager
  • Community program coordinator
  • Nutrition education coordinator
  • Community outreach coordinator
  • Patient care coordinator

What Do Health Educators Do?

Professionals with a health education degree can pursue a wide array of health education careers. In short, becoming a health educator means you will act as a link between a community and the healthcare profession. Therefore, a health educator’s qualifications must work toward devising and implementing strategies that help the health of communities and individuals.

Some standard health educator job descriptions and qualifications include the following:

  • Evaluating the healthcare requirements of a population of the community
  • Collecting and surveying data about their particular community, along with the analysis of its services and healthcare programs
  • Devising and planning programs, classes, events, and materials
  • Assessing if the programs and events developed for a particular community are effective
  • Sharing data and information about the ways to prevent and manage health conditions
  • Allowing people to find required resources, services, and health information
  • Giving instructions and training staff members who partake in health programs
  • Advocating for resource and healthcare policies and promoting them to encourage healthy healthcare practices

How to Become a Health Educator

The question of how to become a health educator is a crucial one. In this guide, we attempt to break down the process of health educator education into a few easy steps. In short, they will prepare you to become a health educator.

Step 1: Attain a Bachelor’s Degree

The first step in a health educator education or health studies career path is obtaining an undergraduate degree. Aspirants yet to get a bachelor’s degree can choose a program either in health studies or public health. An undergraduate health education and promotion degree is highly suitable for landing entry-level jobs or pursuing graduate programs.

However, an aspirant doesn’t need a bachelor’s degree in health education to become a CHES health educator. Some professionals opt for a career change to this field after investing years working in the healthcare sector with other bachelor’s degrees. For instance, you can get a BSN. From there, you gain substantial healthcare experience before making a career switch and becoming a health educator. However, a health education degree is not the only way of becoming a health educator. Various health education programs are available with multiple concentrations.

Step 2: Get Experience In The Field

After earning a health education degree, it is time to set foot into practical work. Most people start working while still pursuing their degrees. Doing so allows students to gain field experience while practically applying their health educator education. Consider standard career options such as:

  • Community outreach coordinator
  • Health services manager
  • Public health program specialist
  • Health officer
  • Or other similar positions

Step 3: Earn A Master’s Degree In Health Education and Promotion

Obtaining a master’s degree in health education is not compulsory to become a CHES health educator. However, those who earn a master’s degree can take advantage of in-depth courses, increased prestige, and research-based classes after graduation. Also, a master’s degree in health education leads to better management positions and other related roles.

An undergraduate degree in a different field can still lead to a master’s degree in health education and promotion. In fact, this is a great option for career switchers.

Some standard graduate degree courses in health educator education include the following:

  • Health Behavior Theory
  • Grant Writing
  • Public Health Administration and Leadership
  • Program Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation
  • Exploring Health Education in the 21st Century

Step 4: Obtaining The Right Certification

Graduates of CHES continuing education can take the Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES) examination. And also, the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). Above all, MCHES and CHES certifications allow potential employers to see your expertise and value. Although a few job positions are open for candidates without health educator certification, other roles require applicants to hold one of these credentials.

Step 5: Find A Suitable Job Position

Let’s say you’ve earned your master’s degree in health education. You’ve also become certified in a particular field. Now you can apply for positions in community, academic, clinical, or corporate environments.

Types of Health Educator Education Online

Associate’s Degree Program

Associate degree programs range from one to three years. Generally, an associate’s degree provides highly effective fundamental training in a particular area. It requires considerably less time than a bachelor’s degree. Furthermore, a healthcare associate’s online provides specific information on prevention, identification, and treatment.

Healthcare education often offers specializations focusing on particular age groups, types of illnesses or diseases, or specific body parts. A broad study of healthcare education may include sectors like anatomy, chemistry, and biology. At the same time, students must learn topics such as medical history, medical law, and modern practices.

Finally, an associate’s degree in healthcare education can lead to great employment opportunities in facilities that offer immediate medical care. This might include doctor’s offices and hospitals. Other possible employment may include long-term care institutions or consultation offices in both public and private capacities.

Bachelor’s Degree Program

A bachelor's degree in health education is one of the primary requirements of health educator education. Specifically because it teaches essential problem-solving and analytical thinking skills. Students also get instruction on how to teach classes and build curricula for the different kinds of populations.

Several educational institutions offer a bachelor’s in the science of health education. However, others offer a bachelor’s in arts. Both degrees entail essential tracks covering the fundamentals of health education. Still, a bachelor’s in arts offers more in the humanities. In contrast, a bachelor’s in science offers more STEM-based instruction.

The courses typically taught in a bachelor’s program satisfy the primary purpose of health education and include:

  • Wellness across the lifespan
  • Evaluation in public health
  • Methods and materials in health education
  • Research and assessment in public health

Master’s Degree Programs

A master's degree in health education leads to employment in public and private sectors. It also prepares graduates for leadership and academic assignments. For instance, enabling them to devise and plan strategies to help improve public health. It may directly translate to working to educate a community.

Graduate degree holders with a teaching certificate can work as postsecondary teachers of health-related topics. In addition, such a degree can also pave the way for a specialized career such as nutritionist or dietitian. Because of its versatility, holders of master’s degrees in healthcare education do not always pursue employment positions specifically in education. Some also opt for generalized work as managers in health services or medical facilities.

Certificate Programs

Certificate programs in healthcare education provide the knowledge to comprehend and alter factors affecting health-related behaviors. These abilities impact the general health of communities and individuals. Students who attain a certificate in healthcare education also understand health education theories, principles, and strategies. Furthermore, graduates of these programs can achieve milestones critical for effective health education. Some common academic objectives in certificate programs include the following:

  • Evaluation and assessment of community and individual requirements for health education
  • Planning of effective health education programs
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of health education programs
  • Implementation of health education programs
  • Coordination of health education services provisions
  • Acting as resource professionals
  • Communication of health and health education concerns, requirements, and resources

What To Look For When Selecting A Program In Healthcare Education

Accreditation

Program accreditation is the analysis and evaluation of particular departments, programs, and schools. It’s one of several kinds of accreditation. In this case, it typically applies to niche knowledge areas such as medical and health services and lawyering. Programmatic accreditation ensures that the coursework is suitable for fieldwork. Ideally, your chosen program is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).

Type

A program’s delivery format is one of the most critical aspects a student should consider. In other words, determining whether to pursue an online, on-campus, or hybrid format. Online healthcare programs are increasing in popularity, primarily because they offer education without relocation. Students also opt for online degrees because learners can both learn and fulfill their personal obligations simultaneously.

Length

The length of a program is a crucial aspect to look into before choosing. Aspirants should ensure their program coincides with their professional objectives and goals in life. Some institutes offer part-time and full-time course schedules. In contrast, others provide accelerated programs to fit the different academic needs of diverse students.

Licensing/Certification

The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) is the only accrediting organization responsible for certifying health education specialists. Thus, overseeing the CHES and MCHES credentials. Although CHES certification is not necessary, earning a master’s degree in health education can ease your way in its attainment.

Health Educator Certification

A health education certification is a prerequisite for specific governmental and public sector jobs, making a CHES certification worthwhile. Even if a job does not require a CHES continuing education certification, holding one can show your commitment and dedication to the field, offering a competitive advantage. Health educators can only take on the title of a Certified Health Education Specialist if they hold a public health certification.

Aspirants can take the Certified Health Education Specialist Exam (CHES) via the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC). They must complete the application process, pay a fee, submit educational transcripts, and present a letter from their academic advisor to be able to sit in the exam. The CHES examination has 165 questions, of which 150 are graded, and 15 are pilot questions that are not scored. Applicants receive a provisional email upon completion of the exam entailing whether they passed or failed the test. In conclusion, candidates receive the official results via mail within four to six weeks after the testing window.

The NCHES also holds the Master Certified Health Education Specialist Exam (MCHES). MCHES is an advanced certification available to only those professionals with at least five years of professional work experience in the health education field. Additional eligibility requirements include taking and passing the CHES examination and meeting the CHES continuing education requirements. Those who pass the MCHES exam can get recertified by taking 75 continuing education credit hours every five years.

Importance of Health Educator Certification

Health education certifications are crucial as they ensure that specialists meet the highest quality standards in the healthcare industry. Obtaining an accredited national certification proves the qualification and experience of health education specialists. It exhibits their potential to stay up-to-date on professional practices. Certificates are also necessary for healthcare educators’ professional and academic growth because they act as quality control. They assure that communities receive healthcare education specialists’ highest quality health services. The augmented chances of recruitment make a CHES certification worth it.

Certification Requirements For Health Educators

Main Requirements

Comply with specific academic requirements to be eligible for the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) examination. These requirements include the following:

  • An accredited bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree
  • A major in the field of health education. For example, health education, public health education, community health education, school health education, and more. 25 semesters hours, or 37 quarter hours. Lastly, the Areas of Responsibility and Competency for Health Education Specialists.

The Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES) exam also has specific exam eligibility requirements. CHES certification is not required as long as students meet the following academic and experience requirements:

For Aspirants Holding The CHES Certification:

  • Five or more active years working as a Certified Health Education Specialist

For Aspirants Not Holding The CHES Certification, or Holding CHES With Less Than Five Active Year Status:

  • A master’s degree (or higher) in a health education domain may include community, school, public, etc.
  • A master’s degree (or higher) with 25 semester hours, or 37 quarter hours in the Seven Areas of Responsibility and Competency for Health Education Specialists and
  • Five years of work experience as a health education specialist, which aspirants must prove with two verification forms by their previous or current supervisor or health education professional organization leader, and a current resume/CV detailing relevant work experience

Maintaining Certification

Professionals who pass the certification exam should maintain their certification per CHES’s requirements. They must complete requirements including the following:

  • A $60 annual renewal fee
  • Attaining 75 Continuing Education Contact Hours (CECH) within five years

To fulfill the second requirement, 45 CECH must come from Category I NCHEC-approved providers. The additional 30 may come from Category 11 non-approved providers. Various events and opportunities count towards CECH, such as self-study opportunities, workshops, and conferences. Moreover, NCHEC informs certification holders about upcoming events through mail, social media, and websites.

NCHEC also recommends that individuals complete 15 CECH every year, ensuring their readiness for recertification at the end of five years. It, however, is not a requirement.

Career Growth and Salary Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is an all-encompassing and highly trustworthy source of career outlook information in the United States. According to its statistics, the median annual pay for health education specialists and community health workers in 2021 was around $48,860 per year or $23.49 per hour.

A certified health education specialist’s salary might be higher than these figures, primarily because of the added credibility that a certification renders to a professional. However, the salary of a health educator depends upon various factors, such as their geographical location, level of education, practical work experience, a particular industry, and the job market demand.

The BLS further entails that this job position does not require work experience in a related occupation and that a whopping 125,200 jobs were present in 2020. BLS also estimates a 17% increase in its job outlook between 2020 and 2030, considerably faster than the average across all other professions. About 21,200 new jobs may rise for this profession between 2020 to 2030.

What Can You Do with a Health Education Degree?

Certified Health Education Specialists hold versatile healthcare experience and education. For instance, they can acquire various employment positions in health education, advocacy, program management, curriculum building, and community health services. Whether organizing wide-scale state or community initiatives or imparting education on an individual level, Certified Health Education Specialists hold the potential to work in many varied roles.

Where do Health Educators Work?

Let’s look at some standard career settings for health education specialists, which are divisible into six prime career sectors. A multitude of health educator job responsibilities and titles are a part of these diverse settings, such as the following:

Community Health Education

  • Alcohol Educator
  • Community Organizer
  • Community Health Educator
  • Family Services Specialist
  • Case Manager
  • Community Outreach Coordinator
  • Diabetes Educator
  • Education Program Manager
  • Health Education Programmer
  • Program Resource Coordinator

School Health Education

  • Youth Program Specialist
  • Youth Outreach Coordinator
  • Head Start Health Specialist
  • School Health Educator
  • Director of Health Promotion
  • Health Counselor
  • District Wellness Coordinator

Business and Non-Profit Health Education

  • Wellness Consultant
  • Health Education Director
  • Employee Wellness Coordinator
  • Integrative Health Practitioner
  • Media Director
  • Program Coordinator for Health Literacy
  • Health Coach
  • Journalist in Healthcare
  • Cultural Competency Trainer
  • Worksite Safety Coordinator
  • Corporate Trainer
  • Grant Writer
  • Clinical Research Coordinator/Specialist

Academia and University Health Education

  • Health Programs Management Director
  • Assistant Professor
  • Health Promotion Programmer
  • Education Outreach Liaison
  • Curriculum Development Specialist
  • Education Director
  • Health and Wellness Coordinator
  • Adjunct Faculty

Government and Health Departments

  • Accreditation Coordinator
  • Environmental Health Educator
  • Infection Preventionist
  • Epidemiologist
  • Program Resource Coordinator
  • Health Program Analyst And Advocate
  • Public Health Inspector
  • Health Information Specialist
  • Prevention Specialist
  • Department Planner/Health Officer
  • Violence Prevention Program Coordinator

Health Care

  • Community Outreach Coordinator
  • Prevention Program Director
  • Biometric Health Screener
  • Cancer Information Specialist
  • Community Benefits Manager
  • Patient Care Coordinator
  • Medical Resource Manager
  • Nutrition Services Coordinator
  • Health And Wellness Coordinator
  • Lactation Consultant
  • Patient Education Director

Related Careers

Some common careers related to health educators include the following:

  • Laboratory Technicians
  • Healthcare Workers
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Nurses
  • Biochemists And Biomedical Scientists

Get Started With Your Online Program Today!

Becoming a health educator is a practical career choice. You have the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of others while also helping improve the overall health of our society. In fact, with the proper education and training, you can turn your passion into a career that will positively impact many people’s lives. Hence, if you have the drive and dedication to become a health educator, don’t wait any longer. Start your journey today with GetEducated.com and make a difference in the world.

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FAQs About How To Become A Health Educator

What do health educators do?

Health educators are professionals who provide healthcare training and knowledge to organizations, communities, and individuals. They also evaluate their healthcare requirements, devise health education programs, and undertake targeted healthcare education interventions.

Does it take long to become a health educator?

Becoming a health educator can take as little as four years of education after completing high school. However, graduate degrees can take two to six years to complete and prove highly beneficial for advancement and employment objectives.

Which requirements do I need to meet to become a health educator?

A bachelor’s degree in public health or a related field is essential for becoming a health educator. Professionals who are Certified Health Education Specialists (CHES) holding at least three to five years of teaching experience are better suited to become health educators.

Is becoming a health educator worth it?

Health education is a highly lucrative field expected to undergo a 17% increase in available jobs, which is higher than that across other occupations. According to the BLS, Health educators earn a considerable salary of about $48,860 per year or $23.49 per hour.

Can I attend an online health educator program?

Yes, you can attend an online health educator program as various reputed educational institutions across the United States offer beneficial programs at low costs.

Do I need certification to be a health educator?

Although certification is not a prerequisite to becoming a health educator, attaining one exhibits your professionalism and dedication to the field, which aids in landing lucrative employment positions.

How much does it cost to become a health educator?

Becoming a health educator varies depending on various factors but typically costs around $32,000 per year for fees, tuition, supplies, books, boarding, and lodging.