Health care educators teach people how to develop healthy habits. Many work for the government or hospitals, although a variety of companies and organizations may hire health care educators. A bachelor's degree is required for this line of work.
Health care educators promote healthy lifestyles and teach disease prevention to individuals, families, communities and the general public. They advocate healthy living in a variety of settings including government agencies, social assistance programs, schools, hospitals and corporations. A bachelor's degree and a master's degree are typically required for work in public health or to advance into a supervisor or director position, and working in a public school setting requires a teaching certification.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree; master's degree recommended|
|Other Requirements||Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential required by some employers|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||12%*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$51,960*|
Source: *Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Health Care Education Careers and Job Options
Health care education professionals work in hospitals, medical clinics, colleges, K-12 public schools, state and federal government agencies, corporations and non-profit companies. They educate individuals, groups, families, communities, corporations and the public through the development of education programs that advocate healthy lifestyle choices and disease prevention. The focus of the education they provide depends upon health needs of a particular audience.
Careers in Hospitals
Health care educators who work in hospitals or medical centers educate patients and their families about a given diagnosis, treatment or surgical procedure. They alert patients to lifestyle changes that may result from medical procedures and make referrals to support groups or to set up follow-up care. They may also design programs to keep medical staff updated on health education topics.
Careers in Schools
Health care educators work at colleges as professors or manage campus health centers. Educational programs offered at schools are often tailored to address alcohol and drug abuse, sexually-transmitted disease, smoking, nutrition or other relevant student concerns. Health education teachers in K-12 schools teach health classes that explore age-appropriate health issues or they may create educational health curricula for the school district.
Public Health Care Careers
Public health care educators often work for state, county and local government programs or federal agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They clarify and disseminate information regarding public health threats, disease awareness, environmental health issues and public health policy. They may provide research or administrate policy.
Nonprofit and Private Sector Careers
Non-profit health care educators may work in underserved communities or address specific concerns like AIDS prevention or issues related to gerontology. They may advocate regulatory change in public health matters like drinking water to ensure public safety. Private sector health educators are strictly concerned with the health needs of the employees who work for a given company. They may create corporate wellness programs or set up health screenings and physical fitness programs that optimize employee health.
Health Care Education Career Requirements
A bachelor's degree in health education is necessary to enter this career. Degree programs in health care education include courses on women's health, men's health, global health concerns, social policy, ethics, statistics, sexual health, research methods and ethnic health disparities.
A master's degree is typically required for work in public health or to advance into a supervisor or director position. Professors and some researchers are required to have a doctorate degree in the field. Health educators in K-12 schools must also have a teaching license. A Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) certificate may also prove helpful in ensuring career advancement. The CHES certificate is attained through an examination that documents competency in the field.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment growth for health educators is expected to be 12% between 2014 and 2024. The BLS goes on to say the increase in health education positions would be driven by efforts to reduce healthcare costs through health, wellness and disease prevention initiatives. In May 2015, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for health educators was $51,960. Among the highest mean salaries were those paid to health educators working for the federal government ($96,760), various amusement and recreation industries ($73,140), specialty hospitals ($72,960), and medical and diagnostic laboratories ($67,270).
Health care educators can expect faster than average growth in the number of available positions. Advanced degrees are needed to work as supervisor or directors, in some research positions or as college professors.