The U.S. Department of Labor defines health educators as those who provide and manage health education programs that help individuals, families and communities maximize and maintain healthy lifestyles. Their responsibilities include assessing individual and community health needs; planning health education strategies, interventions and programs; evaluating program results and more.
Health educators work in a variety of settings. Some lead community health initiatives or work in traditional health care settings, but beyond that, graduates become counselors in health clubs, work with national organizations, such as the American Heart Association, join local or national nonprofits that focus on community health or work at government agencies.
The importance of health education cannot be understated as our aging population continues to grow and health challenges in the U.S. evolve. Those who feel passionately about helping individuals and populations improve and maintain their physical, mental and emotional health may be a perfect fit for this program.
Employment of health educators is expected to grow 14 percent between 2016 and 2026 — a faster rate than the national average for all occupations. This pace means the number of positions will increase by 8,900, from 61,000 to 69,900, over that time period, resulting in many opportunities for students earning their degrees in health education and promotion. Jobs for graduates include fitness and wellness coordinators, HIV/AIDS counselors, health administrators and more.
To best prepare students for these types of roles, educators often teach Bachelor of Science in health education and health promotion programs in ways that open students to flexible career options, with courses focusing on program management and administration, methods of health education, stress management for wellness and others. Additionally, students may have an opportunity to take electives in areas such as human sexuality, HIV/AIDS prevention, conflict mediation and more to personalize their education and better prepare for their desired careers.
Such programs may also be designed to give students the knowledge and qualifications needed to become Certified Health Education Specialists. Likely taught by CHES-certified faculty who have practical experience in the field, students will study the exam’s Seven Areas of Responsibility verified by the Health Education Specialist Practice Analysis project:
- Assess needs, resources and capacity for health education/promotion
- Plan health education/promotion
- Implement health education/promotion
- Conduct evaluation and research related to health education/promotion
- Administer and manage health education/promotion
- Serve as a health education/promotion resource person
- Communicate, promote and advocate for health, health education/promotion and the profession
With this training, students of a health education and health promotion program can graduate well prepared to become a CHES.
Making a choice: community health or health education and health promotion
Choosing between a degree in community health or health education and promotion can be difficult, as both are designed to help students enter the field of public health. Similarly, they both provide a variety of career opportunities in public and private sectors. Graduates from each program may even start their own businesses or nonprofits.
That said, the programs are distinct for a reason. A community health degree may be appropriate for people who:
- Are interested in learning more about health care systems.
- Want to work with disadvantaged or marginalized communities.
- Prefer to work with groups rather than individuals .
- Prefer to work in a health care setting.
Meanwhile, a degree in health promotion and education may be appropriate for people who:
- Are comfortable working in a variety of settings.
- Are comfortable working with individuals or groups.
- Are looking for flexible career options related to wellness.
- Want to become a CHES.
Earning a Bachelor’s in health from ASU Online
Health care is an innovative field with a unique impact, touching both the lives of individuals and transforming communities. If you’re interested in improving public health, ASU offers two programs online that can help you pursue this passion: a Bachelor of Science in community health and a Bachelor of Science in health education and health promotion. Regardless of which program may be a better fit, you can receive a comprehensive, flexible education that fits into your schedule.
Community Health Center Administrator Salary by PayScale
Health Supervisor by Careersinpublichealth.net
Health Educators and Community Health Workers: Occupational Outlook Handbook by the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Community Health Workers by the American Public Health Association
Responsibilities & Competencies by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc.
ASU Online — Online Bachelor of Science in Community Health
ASU Online — Online Bachelor of Science in Health Education & Health Promotion