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Certified Health Education Specialist Degree and Training Programs

Certified health education specialists teach in schools and not-for-profit organizations promoting healthy choices to adults and youths. Learn about education requirements, program coursework, graduate degree programs and certification.

What Degree Do I Need to Become a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES)?

According to the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC), you must have a bachelor's degree in health education or a related area to sit for the CHES exam. With a master's degree, you'll be able to advance into leadership roles.

Degree Levels Bachelor's and master's
Common Courses Human development, substance and sexual abuse, medical terminology, information technology
Certification Examination through the NCHEC; NBPTS for public school teaching
Continuing Education 75 hours to maintain certification
Median Salary (2018) $48,080 (for all health educators and community health workers
Job Outlook (2016-2026)16% growth (for all health educators and community health workers

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 

What Will I Study in a Bachelor's Degree Program?

A bachelor's degree is sufficient for teaching health education in public schools, according to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). A bachelor's degree will teach you about different diseases, human development, psychology, the life cycle and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Along with these subjects, you'll also study substance and sexual abuse. You'll also learn scientific research analysis, medical terminology, teaching methods, curriculum building and information technology.

Once you've completed your bachelor's degree program, you may seek state teaching credentials if you wish to teach in public elementary and secondary schools. Requirements vary by state, so you'll need to check with your local board of education.

What Will a Graduate Program Teach Me?

A master's degree is needed if you want to further your leadership responsibilities. This type of program allows you to assess current health education programs and to correct problems. You can then update these programs and implement new programs for the community. As such, the primary components of a master's degree program include program planning, assessment methods and research methodologies.

How Do I Become Certified?

The NCHEC provides information on the CHES examination. You can also consider sitting for the Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES) exam. This certification is open to those who have five years' experience as a CHES or to those who have a master's degree in an area related to health education or public health education. Both exams consist of 165 multiple-choice questions and cover the NCHEC's seven standards (www.nches.org). These standards include assessment, planning, implementing, researching, managing, advocating and providing resources for health education programs. Once you earn certification, you must accumulate 75 hours of continuing education to maintain your credential and to enhance your knowledge and skills.

If your path leads you to teach in public schools, you can seek voluntary certification. This national certification, offered by the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), is complementary to your state teaching licensure. Among the subjects for which the NBPTS offers certification, health education for adolescents is one of them. The assessment includes testing your knowledge on risky behaviors, wellness, nutrition, mental health and human development.