Becoming a Health Educator: Everything You Need to Know

Be a doctor isn’t the only option for those who love working in the healthcare field. You might consider a career as a health educator – a booming career that is projected to grow fast in the near future. Discover quick and helpful insights on health educator jobs before getting started.

Becoming a Health Educator: Everything You Need to Know
Becoming a Health Educator: Everything You Need to Know

What is a health educator?

Health educators are connections between the community and healthcare professionals. Their goal is to help people stay healthy and avoid serious health issues. They develop programs and materials to promote wellness and educate individuals and the community to incorporate positive habits into their lives.

You can find health educators working in various different settings, from schools and colleges, hospitals, non-profit organizations, government, doctors’ offices, to private businesses. Most of the time, they work in an office, yet they also spend time outside to carry out programs or attend meetings.

Health educator jobs are ideal for those who love helping people and make positive impacts on the communities. On average, health educators earn $65,972 per year in the US (May 27, 2021).

What skills do you need to be a health educator?

What skills do you need to be a health educator?
What skills do you need to be a health educator?

Some essential skills to be a successful health educator include:

  • Analytical skills: to collect and analyze data to evaluate programs, to identify individual and community needs
  • Instructional skills: to deliver a speech to the public, lead programs, teach classes, and discuss with clients and families
  • Interpersonal skills: to listen, communicate and interact with many people from a variety of backgrounds
  • Problem-solving skills: to think creatively about how to improve their audiences’ health and quickly solve problems that arise in planning programs
  • Writing skills: to convey health-related information between healthcare practitioners, and write proposals to develop programs and apply for funding

What do health educators do?

The duties of health educators vary based on the organization they are working at. Here are some of their common duties:

  • Provide health and wellness education
  • Plan and implement programs and treatments specifically designed to address the patient’s needs
  • Evaluate, design, present, recommend and disseminate culturally appropriate health education information and materials
  • Perform intakes on new and re-enrolling adults in various programs
  • Collect and analyze data to learn about their audience and improve programs
  • Facilitate classes according to the organization’s guidelines
  • Maintain patient logs of all who are scheduled for procedures
  • Consult with physicians and staff regarding related health education services
  • Present information effectively to diverse audiences

How to become a health educator?

To become a health educator, you must start with earning a bachelor’s degree in public health, health education, or a related field with at least 25 credits devoted to health education. There is a wide selection of jobs that you could get with a public health degree, so it is highly recommended as you’ll have more career choices after graduating.

Also, you should gain some experience by shadowing a professional or through hands-on practice. If you want to go further in your career path, to be promoted to advanced supervisory or administrative positions, consider a master’s degree to advance. 

Some employers require health educator candidates to have certification, which is earned after passing the Certified Health Education Specialist Exam (CHES) from the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC). To maintain this certification, Health Educators must complete 75 hours of continuing education every five years. Although most certifications are optional, it’s worth spending time as it can open more opportunities for you. 

Conclusion

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has classified health educators as a “Bright Outlook Occupation” as its employment growth is 16% – significantly faster than the average for all occupations between 2016 and 2026. If this career sounds appealing and you are considering this career, then that post might be helpful for you!