Health educators teach people about behaviors that promote wellness. They develop and implement strategies to improve the health of individuals and communities. The duties of health educators, who are sometimes called health education specialists, vary with their work settings. Most work in health care facilities, colleges, public health departments, nonprofits, and private businesses. Health educators who teach health classes in middle and high schools are considered teachers.
In health care facilities, health educators teach patients about their diagnoses and about any necessary treatments or procedures. They also help organize health screenings, such as blood pressure checks, and health classes on topics such as installing a car seat correctly. In colleges, health educators create programs and materials on topics that affect young adults, such as smoking and alcohol use. They may train students to be peer educators and supervise the students’ delivery of health information in person or through social media. In nonprofits (including community health organizations), health educators create programs and materials about health issues for the community that their organization serves.
Education and Certification Requirements
Entry-level health educator positions require a bachelor’s degree and course work that includes theories and methods of health education. Most programs include an internship.
Some positions, such as those in the federal government or in state public health agencies, require a master’s or doctoral degree. Graduate programs are commonly in community health education, school health education, public health education, or health promotion. Entering a master’s degree program requires a bachelor’s degree, but a variety of undergraduate majors may be acceptable.
The median annual wage for health educators was $54,220 in May 2018. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,030, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $98,530.
Employment of health educators and community health workers is projected to grow 16 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will be driven by efforts to improve health outcomes and to reduce healthcare costs by teaching people healthy habits and behaviors and explaining how to use available healthcare services.