How Can I Become a Health and Wellness Director?

Research what it takes to become a health and wellness director. Learn about education and training preparation, certification and job duties to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Business & Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Health and Wellness Director?

A health and wellness director, also known as a health educator, provides health-related information to individuals and the public. Their duties vary widely depending on the setting in which they work. For instance, those who work at hospitals meet one-on-one with patients to help them understand the treatments they are receiving and connect them to relevant community resources. Those who work at public health departments and nonprofit organizations may organize campaigns to raise awareness about particular health issues, like nutrition or infectious disease prevention. It is also possible to get a job at a for-profit company, which could involve designing and implementing incentive programs to encourage employees to adopt healthy, active lifestyles.

Take a look at the following chart for an overview of how to enter this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree, master's degree may be preferred by employers
Education Field of Study Community health education
Key Responsibilities Educate the public about healthy behaviors
Teach people how to adapt to healthier lifestyles
Create workshops, health screenings, conferences and presentations
Certification Certified Health Education Specialist credential may be required by some employers
Job Growth (2014-2024) 12% (for all health educators)*
Average Salary (2015) $56,690 (for all health educators)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Should I Study to Become a Health and Wellness Director?

Professionals in this field may be required to hold a bachelor's degree from a health education program for entry-level work, but most positions require a master's degree (www.bls.gov). A bachelor's degree program in wellness management would give you a foundational knowledge of health, psychology and management. You would learn skills in assessment, creating and assessing programs and reviewing completed programs.

You might seek a master's degree in community health education to become a health and wellness director. This program would prepare you to assess communities, develop and direct programs and conduct research. You would study such subjects as social and behavioral sciences, biostatistics, epidemiology and environmental health science.

How Do I Become Certified?

You might become certified by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) to acquire the credential of Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). To be eligible, you would need to take the NCHEC examination on the Seven Areas of Responsibility and meet proficiency standards (www.nchec.org). Certification is valid for five years, during which you must complete continuing education courses and pay yearly fees to NCHEC.

What Duties Would I Have?

A health and wellness director creates workshops, health screenings, conferences and presentations to educate people about healthy behaviors. In this career, you would teach people how to adapt their lifestyles to avoid illnesses, injuries and other health issues. You might educate people about nutrition, exercise or sexually transmitted infections.

Your programs would be tailored to a particular group, such as a workshop for women on performing breast self-exams. You might work with health specialists and community groups to evaluate the needs of the community and how they could be met. You might produce educational brochures, posters or videos for the benefit of program participants.

Where Might I Work?

You might find a position in public health, colleges and universities, businesses, nonprofit organizations and medical care settings. In public health, you would direct programs that are assigned by State or local departments. If you work with students, you would create programs on such subjects as sexual health, smoking and alcohol that are adapted to be attractive and accessible to young people. For a private business, you would design health education programs for employees that suit the goals of the company.

As a health and wellness director in a nonprofit organization, you would educate a certain group within the community on a specific health topic. You might help to further policies that would improve the community's health, such as making healthy food options more prevalent in schools. In the medical field, you would teach patients about how their diagnosis will affect their lives. You might explain procedures to patients and teach them how to adapt after the procedure.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Another job where you could help people make better lifestyle choices is a career as a dietitian. Dietitians create meal plans for groups or individuals in order to achieve particular health goals, like general wellness, weight loss or chronic disease management. Dietitians need to have at least a bachelor's degree, and licensure is required in most states. Another possibility to consider is a position as a substance abuse or behavior disorder counselor, where you would provide individual and/or group therapy for individuals who are struggling with health problems like alcohol addiction and eating disorders. The minimum educational requirement for an entry-level counseling job is a bachelor's degree, but a master's degree is required for independent practice.

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