Health Educators

Assistant Health Educator, Breastfeeding Educator, Certified Breastfeeding Educator (CBE)   More Names
Certified Diabetes Educator, Certified Health Education Specialist, Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC), Certified Lactation Educator, Cessation Systems Outreach Specialist, Child Development Specialist, Child Health Associate, Chronic Disease Manager, Clinical Educator, Clinical Instructor, Clinical Nurse Educator, Community Educator, Community Health Consultant, Community Health Education Coordinator, Community Health Educator, Community Health Planning Director, Community Health Worker (CHW), Coordinator, Chronic Disease Prevention Program, Coordinator, Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Coalition, Coordinator, Tobacco-Free Wellness Center, Diabetes Education Coordinator, Diabetes Educator, Early Breastfeeding Care Specialist, Education Coordinator, Education Coordinator and Public Information Officer, Education Specialist, Education Specialist for Voices Against Violence, Health Education Coordinator, Educator, Field Representative/Health Education, Health Coach, Health Education Coordinator, Health Educator, Health Promotion Specialist, Healthcare Educator, Healthcare Specialist, HIV Prevention Specialist, Lactation Consultant, Lactation Specialist, Lamaze International Breastfeeding Support Specialist, Nurse Educator, Online Health and Fitness Coach, PCT Preceptor (Patient Care Technician Preceptor), Program Manager for Family and Community Health Education, Public Health Advisor, Public Health Analyst, Public Health Educator, Public Health Educator/Latino Outreach Coordinator, Public Health Officer, Public Health Representative, Public Health Specialist, Public Health Technologist, Risk Reduction Counselor, Tobacco Educator, Tobacco Prevention Health Educator
Description

Direct, plan, and provide health education programs for individuals, families and communities to help prevent illnesses and develop and maintain healthy lifestyles through three separate, but related population-based public health careers. The broad term "health educator" includes at least three separate careers: health educator, public health analyst and public health advisor. Each of these health educator careers share a broad common purpose of providing and managing public health education programs and services that are designed to benefit individuals, families, groups, and communities to maximize and maintain healthy lifestyles and prevent or control disease and illness.

Each of these careers focuses on health promotion and disease prevention for a local or larger population. In this key respect they differ from the career of a clinical health practitioner who is focused on the diagnosis and treatment of an individual's illness, disease or injury.

Health educators collect and analyze data to identify group or community needs prior to planning, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating programs designed to encourage healthy lifestyles, policies, and environments. They may serve as a resource to assist individuals, other healthcare workers, or the community; and may administer fiscal resources for health education programs. They also may supervise and manage other health educators, analysts, advisors or planners.

While all health educators share basic common goals and objectives, their particular duties will vary depending on where they work and their level of education, training, and experience. Most health educators work in medical care settings, colleges and universities, schools, public health departments, nonprofit organizations, or private business.

For example, health educators employed by public health departments or public, non-profit or private medical care facilities often work one-on-one with patients and their families. In this setting, a health educator's responsibility is to educate individual patients on their diagnosis and how it may change or affect their lifestyle. They may help explain necessary medical procedures or surgeries and also describes what individuals may need to do to change their lifestyles in order to manage an illness or return to full health. They may also direct patients to outside resources, such as support groups, home health care organizations or social service agencies.

Health educators in these settings often work closely with physicians, nurses, and other medical staff to create education programs and materials, including brochures, videos, websites and classes. In certain cases, health educators may help to train hospital or residential care staff about ways to better interact with patients.

At colleges and universities, health educators work primarily with the school's students. They may develop outreach programs on lifestyle topics that affect young adults, such as alcohol and substance abuse, sexual activity, and smoking, as well as overall health and wellness. In these settings, they often use video or other media to introduce a topic followed by group discussion. Depending on their education and background, they also may teach courses for credit or give lectures on health-related topics.

Health educators who are employed in elementary and secondary schools will often be involved in conducting health and wellness classes. Based on their state or school district requirements, they will develop lesson plans that are relevant and appropriate to the age and grade of their students. As is the case of their college-level counterparts, they often will cover sensitive topics, such as alcohol and drug abuse and sexually transmitted diseases. Depending on their individual education background and state teaching licensure requirements, they also may teach additional subjects, such as science or physical education. In some cases, they may be asked to help develop the health education curriculum for their school or school district.

A practical illustration of a nationwide health education outreach activity at the federal level is provided by the U.S. Office of the Surgeon General. In 2011, the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council, announced release of a new National Prevention Strategy. This new strategy promotes a comprehensive plan to help increase the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life.

This National Prevention Strategy recognizes that good health comes not just from receiving quality medical care, but also from clean air and water, safe outdoor spaces for physical activity, safe worksites, healthy foods, violence-free environments and healthy homes. It stresses that prevention should be woven into all aspects of life, including where and how Americans live, learn, work and play, and that everyone has a role in creating a healthier nation. Public health analysts and public health advisors both perform a wide range of health education research, program management, and other duties and activities. They may conduct disease intervention activities, manage and evaluate programs, or provide other technical assistance for federal, state, regional, or local government agencies as well as community, state, or national organizations.

Public health analysts often perform health research and data acquisition, interpretation and reporting tasks. Their research and data analysis may used to support the delivery and management of local, state, regional, national, or global health education promotion and prevention programs. Their population-based health research and data also will be used by health planners and field practitioners, such as public health advisors, community health workers, disease prevention specialists, disease investigators and health inspectors.

Public health advisors may have some of the same skills or background experience as public health analysts, but their primary responsibility is to assist communities with response and recovery from short-term or long-term public health emergencies (such as those resulting from a flood or hurricane) or chronic conditions (such as black lung disease among underground coal miners or high rates of cancer due to toxic waste pollution). They may move in or out of a particular community depending on the public health need. While working within communities, they often will assist individuals with public health issues as well as work with local healthcare and social workers on related questions, such as health insurance coverage or claims issues.

Within the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), public health analysts and public health advisors are involved in on-going work in areas such as chronic diseases, environmental health, immunization, infectious diseases, injury prevention and control, international health and refugee programs, sexually transmitted diseases, and tuberculosis prevention.

The advancement opportunities for health educators, public health analysts and public health advisors will vary depending on employer, type and level of education and training, and experience and responsibilities. Within many agencies and organizations, opportunities to advance to a supervisory or broader management position normally should be available from time-to-time.

Credentials Needed: Health educators, public health analysts and public health advisors are not required to be state licensed or registered to practice any of these careers. If, however, a health educator teaches in a public elementary or secondary school, or is also a Registered Nurse, or physician, they will be required to meet the state licensing or other requirements of such underlying professions.

The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. sponsors the voluntary Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential which is available to entry-level health educators who have at least a bachelor's degree and pass a certification exam. This organization also offers the advanced level Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES) credential. In some cases, employers may prefer to hire or promote individuals who are certified, while certain states may require health education certification to work in a public health department.

Some Key Things to Remember: The broad term "health educator" includes at least three separate careers: health educator, public health analyst and public health advisor. Each of these health educator careers share a broad common purpose of providing and managing various public health education programs and services that are designed to benefit individuals, families, groups, and communities to maximize and maintain healthy lifestyles and prevent or control disease and illness. They each focus on health promotion and disease prevention for a local or larger population.

Employers generally require a minimum of a bachelor's degree in health education to obtain entry-level employment as a health educator, public health analyst, or public health advisor. In some cases, a master's degree - such as a Master of Public Health or Master of Science in Clinical Research - may be preferred or required. Neither of these careers is required to be state licensed or registered in and of itself. However, some individuals may be required to meet other licensing or other requirements, such as those needed to teach in a public school.

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Job Growth and Wages
Percent Job Growth:  
12% - Average
Typical Wages (National):  
Annual: $38,640 - $73,040    Hourly: $19 - $35
Physical/Medical/Health Requirements

Health educators usually work indoors. Day-to-day performance of this job usually requires being in contact with others, including face-to-face, telephone, and email communication. Health educators are expected to be very exact and highly accurate in their work.

Legal Requirements
General/Nationwide
State-Specific
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Typical Education: Bachelor's Degree (High School + 4 or more Years)
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(Data Drawn from O*NET)
 
      

Career Snapshot

Typical Education:

Master's and Above (High School + 6 or more Years)
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Percent Job Growth:

12% - Average
Find Jobs

Typical Wages:

Annual: $38,640 - $73,040

Hourly: $19 - $35