In order to become a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES), a candidate must complete a degree program in health education. A graduate certificate in health education is intended for those who are already employed in a health-related field. Master's degree programs allow individuals to enhance their knowledge and increase their job and earning potential. Students learn how to develop public health classes and programs and to identify community health education needs. Master's students might have to participate in an internship during the program, though this requirement could be waived for those already employed in a healthcare profession. Both programs require that students have a bachelor's degree if they are seeking admission. Some coursework in these programs may be offered online. Master's programs may require some prerequisite coursework in anatomy, physiology, psychology and public speaking.
Graduate Certificate in Health Education
A graduate certificate is helpful for those who already teach in another area and are looking to switch their primary focus to health education. Students can find schools that offer some or all program coursework online. A graduate certificate can usually be earned in a year or less. Course topics examine the basic theories and strategies of health education and promotion at the graduate level. Some classes commonly found include:
- Health education methods
- Curriculum development
- Communications and public health
- Health informatics
- Impacts of stress on health
Master's Degree in Health Education
Students interested in receiving a master's degree in health education have the option of a Master of Science (M.S.) or a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Health Education. Both the M.S. and the M.Ed. degree programs emphasize applied research and administrative concerns as well as methods and strategies for teaching others how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. These graduate degree programs train students to be leaders in the field of health education by monitoring and assessing community health programs for effectiveness and efficiency. Students learn and research the following topics:
- Health education research techniques
- School health or community health education programs
- Psychosocial elements of health
- Health education resources
- Contemporary issues in health education
- Biostatistics for health workers
Popular Career Options
Graduates qualify to work cooperatively with other educators, nutritionists, therapists, hygienists, nurses and psychologists to provide broad care and support to individuals and groups. A master's degree provides advancement beyond entry-level positions, qualifying graduates for jobs in administrative areas. Most health educator positions in the public health sector generally require a master's degree. Managerial career titles available to those with a master's degree include:
- Corporate wellness program director
- Disease management or prevention researcher
- Health education program supervisor
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 57,920 employed health educators in 2020, with a projected increase of 11% expected between 2019 and 2029 (www.bls.gov). This much-faster-than-average growth is partly due to the rising cost of health care, prompting many insurance companies to employ health educators to help people live healthier lives. The BLS further reported that the average annual salary for health educators as of May 2020 was $62,120 with the majority employed in hospitals.
Graduates could also pursue a doctoral degree in health education which could expand career possibilities. Doctorate-holders qualify for academic research positions and can become a professors of health education at the university level.
For individuals interested in pursuing a degree in health education, they can do so at the graduate certificate or master's level. Common career paths for graduates include wellness program directors, health program supervisors, and disease researchers.