Community Health Workers

Apprise Counselor, Assistant Director of Nutrition and Wellness Programs, Chief Program Officer   More Names
Community Health Advisor, Community Health Advocate, Community Health Agent, Community Health Counselor, Community Health Navigator, Community Health Outreach Worker, Community Health Program Coordinator, Community Health Program Representative (Community Health Program Rep), Community Health Promoter, Community Health Representative, Community Health Worker (CHW), Community Nutrition Educator, Health Advocate, Health Navigator, Health Outreach Worker, HIV CTS Specialist (Human Immunodeficiency Virus Counseling and Testing Services Specialist), Lay Health Advocate, Peer Health Promoter, Public Health Outreach Worker, Public Health Worker
Description

Assist individuals and communities in adopting healthy behaviors and lifestyles. Perform outreach for medical and healthcare organizations to implement programs to promote, maintain, and improve individual and community health.

Community health workers provide a wide-range of services depending on the requirements of their particular employer and the needs of their local or regional community. For example, they may provide information on available resources, offer social support and informal counseling, advocate for individuals and community health needs, or deliver services such as first aid and blood pressure screening. They may also help healthcare educators, public health analysts, and healthcare planners collect data that will be used to identify and assess community healthcare needs.

Community health workers are found in all geographic settings, including urban, suburban and rural areas. They often are employed by local or regional public health or social service agencies, but also may work as employees or volunteers for non-profit healthcare outreach organizations. In general, they serve as knowledgeable, face-to-face resource intermediaries between health practitioners and social services providers and individuals, families and groups within communities. They work to improve knowledge about and access to quality healthcare services.

As front-line healthcare professionals, community health workers are expected to have an accurate understanding of the healthcare needs of the communities that they serve coupled with an up-to-date knowledge of their local and regional healthcare systems. They need to be trustworthy professionals who are able to match individual healthcare needs with available healthcare resources and services.

On a day-to-day basis, community health workers help to build individual and community capacities by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through activities such as community outreach, education, informal counseling, and social support. They help link people to needed healthcare information and services. For example, community health workers may advise individuals, families or community groups on issues related to diagnostic screenings, such as for breast cancer screening, pap smears, glaucoma tests, or diabetes screenings. They also may provide advice relating to general health improvement, such as through diet and exercise or on other issues related to better self-care, such as diabetes management.

Community health workers also may play a role in educating parents of newborns and young children about the importance of childhood immunization and how to get immunization services. In some cases they may actively be involved in providing immunizations or other basic preventive treatments. They also can be involved in issues relating to overall community sanitation or personal hygiene, or work as advocates for better individual or community healthcare services.

Although precise roles may vary depending on work location, community health workers often may be found providing services in underprivileged communities where people lack knowledge about or access to quality health care, have only a limited ability to pay for healthcare services, or do not speak English fluently. In these communities, they will play an important role helping to link community members with needed services and supports.

The advancement opportunities for community health workers will vary depending on employer, type and level of an individual's education and training, and their 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: There is no state licensing or other registration requirement for entry-level community health worker positions. In some cases, however, an employer may seek an employment candidate who already holds a state license or certification as a result of their qualifications for another healthcare career. For example, if an employer is seeking a community healthcare worker who already is a practicing licensed practical nurse (LPN) or registered nurse (RN), an applicant would need to meet state licensing requirements for these careers as part of their qualifications for that community healthcare worker position.

Some Key Things to Remember: Community health workers provide a wide-range of healthcare outreach and information services depending on the requirements of their particular employer. They assist individuals and communities adopt healthy behaviors and lifestyles in order to promote, maintain and improve individual and community health. The entry-level education needed to become a community health worker can vary considerably depending upon the skill level requirements and specific needs of an individual employer. These can range for a high school education or GED all the way to a bachelor's degree.

In general, state licensing or other registration requirements are not needed for entry-level employment as a community health worker. However, if an employer is seeking a community healthcare worker who already is an LPN, RN or other practitioner in a field that is licensed or regulated, an applicant would need to meet the state licensing or other requirements for such an underlying career.

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Job Growth and Wages
Percent Job Growth:  
15% - Faster than average
Typical Wages (National):  
Annual: $29,480 - $49,340    Hourly: $14 - $24
Physical/Medical/Health Requirements

No specifc requirement is identified at this time.

Legal Requirements
General/Nationwide
State-Specific
 
      

Career Snapshot

Typical Education:

Bachelor's Degree (High School + 4 or more Years)
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Percent Job Growth:

15% - Faster than average
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Typical Wages:

Annual: $29,480 - $49,340

Hourly: $14 - $24