Health Educator

Job Description

Health Educator
••• A health educator lectures a group of senior citizens. vm / E+ / Getty Images

A health educator teaches individuals and communities how to live healthy lifestyles.  He or she instructs them on nutrition and the avoidance of unhealthy activities like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. The health educator's goal is to provide people with the tools that allow them to avoid developing life-threatening health issues.

Quick Facts

  • About 61,000 people work in this occupation (2016).
  • Governments and hospitals employ the majority of health care educators.
  • The job outlook for this occupation is excellent. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which has classified it as a "Bright Outlook Occupation," predicts employment will grow faster than the average for all occupations between 2016 and 2026.
  • Health educators work in offices and also spend time offsite running programs.

A Day In a Health Educator's Life

These are some typical job duties listed in online ads on Indeed.com:

  • "Provide health and wellness education and advocacy for health care"
  • "Evaluate, design, present, recommend, and disseminate high quality, culturally appropriate health education information and materials"
  • "Perform intakes on new and re-enrolling adults in the infectious disease program"
  • "Facilitate classes according to the organization's guidelines"
  • "Maintain patient log of all patients scheduled for procedures"
  • "Plan and implement programs and treatments specifically designed to address the patient's needs"
  • "Consult with physicians and staff regarding related health education services"

Educational and Other Requirements

To land an entry-level position as a health educator, you must first earn a bachelor's degree in either health education or health promotion.

Coursework will include psychology and human development. A foreign language is recommended because bilingual job candidates are more desirable. Get a master's degree in public health education, community health education, school health education, or health promotion if you want an advanced position or a government job.

Some employers will only hire job candidates who have received certification from the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. Those who have this voluntary credential are called Certified Health Education Specialists. Not all, but some, employers require every employee to have it.

To become certified, you must have completed or be close to completing your bachelor's degree. An exam is also required.  It is mandatory to take 75 hours of continuing education classes every five years to maintain certification.

What Soft Skills Do Health Educator's Need?

In addition to formal education and certification, one also needs these soft skills, abilities with which you were born or acquired through life experiences, to succeed in this occupation:

  • Provide Instruction: The ability to teach is vital to your success in this occupation.
  • Communication: Excellent listening and speaking skills will allow you to understand your students' concerns and convey information to them.
  • Interpersonal SkillsIn addition to being able to listen and speak to people, it is vital to be able to understand their non-verbal cues. You must also know how to persuade them and negotiate with them.
  • Writing SkillsHealth educators must put together written materials used in teaching.
  • Problem SolvingExcellent problem solving skills will allow you to identify the issues facing your students and develop ways to address them.

What Will Employers Expect From You?

We again surveyed job announcements on Indeed.com to learn about the qualifications, other than technical skills and experience, employers are seeking. Here's what we found:

  • "Maintains confidentiality of patients at all times by complying with HIPAA policies"
  • "Demonstrated ability to present effectively to diverse audiences"
  • "Highly proactive, flexible, works independently"
  • "Sensitivity to cultural, ethnic, and gender orientation differences"
  • "Must possess excellent internet and computer skills"
  • "Ability to interpret work plans and convert needs into comprehensive educational programs"

Is This Career a Good Fit?

For a career to be suitable for an individual, it must match his or her interests, personality type, and work-related values. If you have the following traits, a career as a health educator would be a good fit:

Occupations With Related Activities and Tasks

 DescriptionAnnual Salary (2017)Educational Requirements
School CounselorAdvises students in elementary and secondary schools$55,410Master's degree in school counseling
Mental Health CounselorHelps clients with mental and emotional disorders$46,740Master's degree in a mental health-related field

School Psychologist

Applies psychological principles to help students deal with academic and developmental issues$75,090Advanced degree or Ph.D. in school psychology
Social WorkerHelps people cope with challenges including aging, mental illness, chronic disease, and addiction. $43,250-54,870Bachelor's/Master's Degree in Social (BSW/MSW)

 

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,  Occupational Outlook Handbook; Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor,  O*NET Online (visited June 19, 2018).