How Do I Become a Certified Health Educator?

Research what it takes to become a certified health educator. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Health Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Certified Health Educator Do?

Certified health educators promote health and wellness by educating the public, including individuals and groups of people, on ways they can prevent disease and maintain their health. They are employed in a wide variety of settings, including schools and hospitals. These professionals try to address the particular health needs of their community or workplace, and develop informative programs to teach about these and other health topics. Health educators are constantly evaluating programs and learning materials to update them with current information and create programs that are most effective. Depending on their place of work, they may oversee other staff members and even help advocate for certain health policies. For more information about the career of certified health educator, see the table below:

Degree RequiredBachelor's degree
Master's degree
Education Field of StudyHealth Education
Public Health
Key Responsibilities -Design, develop and offer health education and health promotion programs for a variety of audiences;
-Offer outreach services to patients and/or the community on health promotion issues;
-Guide people towards appropriate healthcare services
Licensure/CertificationVoluntary certification through NCHEC
Job Growth (2014-2024)12%*
Mean Salary (2015)$56,690 (for health educators)*

Source:*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What is a Health Educator?

Health educators are healthcare professionals who specialize in educating individuals and groups about ways they can maintain their health. You'll generally find employment as a health educator within a local public health department, medical university, secondary school or nonprofit organization. Your primary objective in this role is to educate the public on disease prevention and healthy living.

As a health educator, you'll organize and oversee classes, programs, lectures and events related to public health education. You could also manage free health screenings, write and distribute health-related brochures and meet with individuals on a one-on-one basis to discuss their health issues. You can specialize in a specific health-related topic, such as breast cancer awareness, or you can focus your expertise on health issues that affect a certain demographic, such as elderly citizens or college students.

What Educational Programs Are Available?

A Bachelor of Science in Health Education prepares you for an entry-level position as a health educator. These programs are designed to provide you with an understanding of health education theory, techniques, policies and processes. Courses give you a background in human psychology, biology and human development. If you're interested in obtaining a position in the field after graduation, consider completing an internship or volunteer experience with a medical facility or public health department.

A graduate degree in health education can benefit you if you're interested in advancing to a supervisory or administrative role and is usually required if you enter the field of public health. Most graduate-level degrees in health education allow you to specialize in a particular area of study, such as public or school health education. You'll learn the specific skills necessary to work in a particular segment of the health education field, in addition to leadership and management strategies.

How Do I Get Certified?

Certification for health educators is completely voluntary. The National Commission of Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) offers the Certified Health Education Specialist designation. If you're interested in earning certification, you'll need to complete a bachelor's degree and pass an examination administered by NCHEC. To maintain your certification, you'll be required to complete continuing education classes relevant to your profession.

What Salary Could I Expect to Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the mean annual salary for health educators in 2015 was $56,690. Most health educators working that year were employed by hospitals, although some worked for government agencies, family services and outpatient care centers, per BLS data. The BLS also found that the federal government paid the highest wages for health educators with an average salary in 2015 of $96,760.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Dietitians and nutritionists hold similar positions and require a bachelor's degree. These professionals also promote health through teaching their clients about food, nutrition and healthy eating habits. Epidemiologists and school and career counselors also have related careers, but they require master's degrees. Epidemiologists also work in the healthcare field, but focus on examining causes and patterns of various diseases and illnesses. They use this information to help prevent the spread of more infections. School and career counselors fall more in line with the field of education. They work with different aged school children to give them the necessary skills to do well in school and prepare for a future career.

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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