Community Health Majors: Salary and Career Facts

Being a community health major can qualify you for a variety of careers. Read on to learn about educational programs, job options, professional certifications and earning potential in the field of community health. Schools offering Medical Social Work degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are Career Options for Community Health Majors?

Community health majors often go on to work as health educators after graduating. As a health educator, you'd be responsible for managing programs that individuals and families could use to live healthy lives. Your job would include data collection and analysis to determine community needs, and to plan, implement and evaluate new programs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that health educators work for government agencies, schools or medical facilities (www.bls.gov).

The type of facility where you choose to work may have an impact on your duties. For example, according to the BLS, a health educator in a medical facility works with families and patients to help them to understand the impact of a diagnosis. A health educator in a public health setting creates programs to inform community members about living healthy lifestyles. They also get information out to the community in emergency situations. The following chart gives an overview of what you may need before entering this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Key Responsibilities Teach in communities about wellness
Licensure/Certification Required Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential may be required by some employers
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 12%*
Median Salary (2015) $51,960*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Will I Study as a Community Health Major?

As a community health major, you'll work toward a Bachelor of Science in Community Health. Some schools require that you choose a specialized area of study, like health promotion and disease prevention or environmental and occupational health and safety. As a community health major, you can expect to complete an internship at a school-approved facility. Your courses will include epidemiology, grant writing, ethics and research methods.

What Certifications are Available?

The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) offers its Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential to individuals who have completed bachelor's degrees in health education or other related fields. According to the NCHEC, the voluntary certification process includes a written test examining certain areas of responsibility (www.nchec.org). Those content areas include needs assessment for health education, planning and implementation strategies, health education research and evaluation, and communication and advocacy for health and health education, according to NCHEC.

How Much Could I Earn?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov) indicates that health educators employed in May 2015 earned a median annual salary of $51,960. The BLS notes that there were 61,400 health educators employed in 2014, and the number was projected to grow to 68,900 by 2024. Earning professional certification, like the CHES credential, may have an effect on a health educator's pay. For example, Payscale.com users identifying themselves as Certified Health Education Specialists reported earnings of $38,000-$52,000 in 2017.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Becoming a health educator is not your only option as a community health major. Bachelor's degree holders may also find employment as dietitians and nutritionists, who work with patients to create personal meal and exercise plans for good health. Dietitians and nutritionists can work with individual patients or at a community level to educate people and create community-wide health plans.

You could also choose to become a substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor. Substance abuse and behavioral disorders are health concerns that often affect communities as well as individuals. As a substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor, you could work with individual patients in recovery or whole families as they encourage and support their loved ones who are seeking treatment. Counselors of this kind may also work in community outreach to help promote recovery programs and substance abuse education, sometimes referring patients to job placement, support groups or other resources.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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