Health educators are responsible for helping people learn how to improve their well-being and prevent future illness. As healthcare costs and demands continue to rise, health education may be an attractive career opportunity to professionals who want to make a difference and work in a growing field.
Employment for health educators is projected to grow 16% through 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Health educators may work with individuals or groups in a variety of settings such as health clinics, schools, colleges, hospitals, healthcare providers, community centers, nonprofit organizations and the government. You may find professionals:
- Demonstrating how to test blood sugar as part of a diabetes education class
- Sharing tips on how to lower your blood pressure as part of a corporate wellness initiative
- Training medical staff on effective patient communication
- Conducting health screenings and workshops
- Locating resources to help a patient manage an illness
Health educators earned an average annual wage of $57,900 in May 2016, the BLS reported. Those working for hospitals had an average salary of $63,780, and those employed by local governments had an average salary of $51,640. If a career as a health educator interests you, conducting independent research is a wise choice, as salary potential and employment opportunities may vary depending on factors such as education, experience and regional market conditions.
How to Become a Health Educator
Those looking to become a health educator should consider pursuing a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration, health promotion or health education. Some employers want professionals with the Certified Health Education Specialist credential; earning the certification requires a degree. In some cases, health educators may need a master’s degree, particularly if they’d like to work for a state or federal public health agency.
Some professionals may choose to work with specific groups or areas as a Community Health Worker (CHW). Depending on employer, some CHWs may have at least a high school diploma, an associate degree or some training on the job, according to the BLS.
Successful health educators also have the ability to evaluate information and data, build rapport with diverse groups and express themselves clearly, both verbally and in writing.