Health Education Specialist Career, Employment and Education Info

Explore the career requirements for health education specialists. Get the facts about job duties, job outlook, salary info and educational requirements to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Health Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Health Education Specialist?

Health education specialists work with groups or individuals, educating them on topics such as healthy life choices and disease prevention. These professionals will look at the health needs in their area and come up with programs or events to help educate the public on various topics. They typically will evaluate the success of these programs and events, as well as the effectiveness of educational material. Health education specialists may also help people find health services they need, provide training for other health workers and oversee other staff members working with educational health programs. Some could also be involved in advocating for health policies and resources to improve community health. The table below highlights education and career information for health education specialists.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree; a graduate degree is required by some employers and for working in public health
Education Field of Study Health education, health sciences, curriculum development and communication
Key Responsibilities Academic duties include teaching health classes. Medical duties include informing patients about procedures and treatments. Business duties include coordinating health programs and writing grants to secure funding. Other duties could include informing the public on health issues.
Certification Certified Health Education Specialist required or recommended by employers
Job Growth (2014-2024) 12%*
Average Salary (2015) $56,690*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is the Career Summary of a Health Education Specialist?

Health education specialists work in a variety of settings, including schools, businesses and health care institutions, and your duties may vary based on the setting. In a school, you might teach health classes. You could also inform patients about medical procedures or help with them in dealing with specific diseases if you work in a hospital.

If you're employed by a business, you may coordinate health screenings or weight loss programs. Another option is to become involved in community outreach and advocacy. If you work in the public health arena, you'll create and distribute health education information, and keep the public informed in emergency situations. In all settings, health education specialists develop and implement programs that educate individuals about healthy living. You may also spend a portion of your time writing grants and securing funding for these programs.

What Is the Projected Occupational Outlook?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expected faster-than-usual job growth for health educators, a 12% increase, from 2014 through 2024 (www.bls.gov). This was due in part to an effort to reduce health care costs. Insurance companies and other organizations realized that prevention and early detection, aided by the efforts of health educators and community health workers, could decrease the need for costly treatments for advanced disease and illness. The average annual income for health educators was $56,690 as of May 2015, reported the BLS.

What Education Requirements Should I Fulfill?

A bachelor's degree, such as a Bachelor of Science in Health Education or a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences, is the minimum educational requirement for health education specialists. Many health educators pursue graduate degrees, which are required by some employers and for positions in public health. You may prefer an educational program that combines health sciences with teaching skills, such as curriculum development and communication.

Your undergraduate program may consist of courses in exercise leadership, physiology, child and adolescent development, sports nutrition and physical sciences. If you plan to continue on and acquire a master's degree in health education, you'll study subjects such as education and philosophy, health program management, patient education, advanced community health assessment and educational research.

Certification is not always required, but it could be beneficial to your career. The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. awards a Certified Health Education Specialist designation to health education specialists who meet educational requirements and pass an examination. Continuing education is required to retain your certification. The Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) and the American Association for Health Education provide additional resources and continuing education opportunities.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Dieticians and nutritionists are a couple of similar jobs that require at least a bachelor's degree. These health professionals work to improve patients' health and manage diseases through food and nutrition. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors also need at least a bachelor's degree. They counsel and support patients dealing with various problems and disorders, such as alcoholism, eating disorders or behavior issues. An epidemiologist is another related career, but requires a master's degree. Epidemiologists study the patterns and causes of diseases to try and reduce the risk of a particular disease to the public.

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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  • Liberty University

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  • Walden University

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  • Purdue University Global

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      • Master of Science in Health Education
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  • Colorado Christian University

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  • Colorado State University Global

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