College students majoring in or choosing concentrations in community health services prepare one for jobs in health education, social work, or public health management. A bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement for these occupations.
Degree programs in community health service fields may include public health or community health education. They are offered through a variety of health and human services academic departments at colleges and universities. Because these degree programs focus on providing healthcare in a variety of settings, graduates may consider employment as health educators, social workers or community health directors, among other possibilities.
|Career||Health Educators||Social Workers||Medical and Health Service Managers|
|Education Requirements||Bachelor's degree||Bachelor's degree||Bachelor's or Master's degree|
|Other requirements||None||State licensure||None|
|Job Growth (2014-2024)*||12%||12%||17%|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$51,960||$52,380 (for all healthcare social workers)||$94,500|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Health educators work in a variety of settings, including government agencies and community outreach centers, to educate members of different populations on topics such as nutrition, health insurance, physical fitness, preventive care and limiting health risks through behavior. They may also help health agencies and organizations respond to public health threats by informing clients about vaccinations and other resources.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) noted that in addition to a bachelor's degree, prospective health educators can acquire professional certification, while those wishing to advance to supervisory positions might pursue advanced degrees (www.bls.gov). Health educators working in schools generally need further education and may require licensure.
The BLS reported that health educators should see employment growth of 12% between 2014 and 2024, because they teach prevention and promote wellness, which can help combat the need for costly healthcare in the future. In May 2015, health educators commanded a median yearly salary of $51,960.
Social workers in healthcare settings provide assistance to people who are affected by illness, injury or negative health conditions. They evaluate patient needs, make arrangements for in-home care or assisted living, counsel clients and their families about healthful living and refer clients to community resources for health, financial, legal or housing assistance. The BLS noted that social workers typically hold either Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) or Master of Social Work (MSW) degrees and must be licensed or certified by the states in which they work.
Employment growth for all social workers was projected to be 12% from 2014-2024, according to BLS. The bureau also indicated that as of May 2015, healthcare social workers earned a median salary of $52,380 per year.
Community Health Director
Community health directors, also known as public health directors, are often employees of government agencies or nonprofit organizations. They plan and oversee the implementation of community programs designed to promote healthful living and prevent behaviors that lead to the spread of diseases. Community and public health directors also make policy recommendations, respond to disease outbreaks and public health crises, distribute information to community members and work with other organizations or agencies to maintain public health.
Community health directors often plan budgets and are responsible for writing grants, acquiring program funding and maintaining compliance with local, state and federal regulations. Individuals seeking to become a community health manager should have either a bachelor's or master's degree in health administration.
The BLS estimated that medical and health services managers would experience a 17% employment growth from 2014-2024, due in large part to growth of the healthcare industry and the need for experienced management personnel to guide the offering of services. Median yearly salaries of medical and health services managers were $94,500 in 2015, as reported by BLS.
Anyone interested in community health may look into becoming a health educator, social worker, or community health director. Most require college degrees, though managerial jobs usually demand a master's or higher.