Health Educator: How to Become a Health Educator

Published Oct 31, 2009

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If you'd like to help people live healthier lives and avoid illness, consider becoming a health educator. Health educators organize and implement instructional programs to teach subjects such as proper diet and disease prevention. A bachelor's degree is typically required to become a health educator, though employers prefer applicants with a master's degree.

Health Educator Career Summary

A health educator's job is to promote health in a group or community by informing people about health issues and providing resources for improvement. Often, their work targets a specific audience or issue, such as the elderly or those with a high risk for cancer. They may work alone or as part of a team to develop health programs that include classes, screenings, videos and distribution of brochures and pamphlets.

Health educators work in a variety of environments, and the subjects addressed in their work depend on the setting. Those employed by secondary schools or colleges will teach proper nutrition and provide information about sexually transmitted diseases and substance abuse. Health educators working for the state in public health departments serve on councils and help to support local community groups. Those in medical facilities work with individual patients, teaching them how to manage or recover from illness.

Education Required to Become a Health Educator

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), most entry-level health educator positions require a bachelor's degree. Job seekers can improve their resumes with personal experience through volunteer work and internships. More advanced positions will require a master's degree, and currently employed health educators may need to return to school for a master's if they want to be promoted.

A bachelor's degree program in health education includes courses in physiology, teaching methods and administration. The degree may be offered with concentrations in areas such as community health and worksite health promotion. A master's program will feature further study in the subjects of the bachelor's degree, along with courses in biostatistics and program planning. Some schools offer health education programs online.

Job Training and Certifications Required to Become a Health Educator

Health educators can choose to take the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) exams to become Certified Health Education Specialists. The credential isn't legally mandatory, though some employers may require it. NCHEC designed the exam to test knowledge and skills in seven areas of responsibility essential to work as a health educator, including the planning, implementation and administration of health education programs.

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