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Health Educators

Health educators train medical staff how to better interact with patients.

Health educators train medical staff how to better interact with patients.

Health educators do exactly what you think they do — they teach the public about positive health practices like proper nutrition, injury prevention and care, and when to seek medical advice. Health educators may work in schools, hospitals, government agencies, or religious communities.

 

Fast Facts

Minimum Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree

Top 3 Skills: Communication

Average Starting Salary: $27,000/year

 

Job Description

What a health educator does is largely determined by where they work. In hospitals, they educate patients about their new diagnoses, explain the necessary treatments, and connect them with support groups if need be.

At schools, health educators give talks and hold panels on topics relevant to students, like sex, alcohol, and drug abuse. They might be the person who hands out pamphlets or they might be someone available for private discussion. It depends on the school and the educator.

Public health educators may lead campaigns promoting good health practices, or explaining a current viral epidemic. They may organize community health screenings or public information sessions on common health issues, like type II diabetes or heart disease.

Private businesses might hire a health educator to work with their staff, either to learn about good health practices or how to relate to and interact with ill or injured customers. Think of it as teaching “bedside manner” outside of the hospital.

 

Education

Most entry-level health education jobs require a bachelor’s degree. These programs teach students both what health problems exist and why and how best to explain these issues to different audiences. Accurate, relevant communication is stressed.

Some positions require candidates to posses a master’s degree. These jobs are typically government-sponsored.

Licensing/Certification

Some employers prefer their workers be Certified Health Education Specialists (CHES). To obtain certification, students or recent graduates must pass an exam, based on material learned as an undergraduate student studying health education. Continuing education hours are required to maintain certification.

Job Outlook: Outstanding

The BLS predicts a 37% increase in employment between the years 2010 and 2020, nearly double the national average. As of 2010, the average income for a health educator was $45,830 per year.

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