Guide to Health Education Careers

What is a health education specialist?

Health education specialists are individuals who have met baccalaureate-level (or above) required health education academic preparation qualifications. They serve in a variety of settings, and can use appropriate educational strategies and methods to facilitate the development of policies, procedures, interventions, and systems conducive to the health of individuals, groups, and communities. Health education specialists can be found in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, schools and universities, government offices, businesses and non-profits, and more.

Health education specialists work with individuals, families, and communities, as well as public and private organizations to create, implement, oversee, and analyze programs and strategies that promote health and well-being. 


What jobs can I get with a CHES® certification?

Certified Health Education Specialists work in many different environments in a variety of industry sectors. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there were nearly 60,000 health education specialists working in the United States in 2019 with a projected industry growth rate of 11 percent between 2018 and 2028. 

Certified Health Education Specialists can hold a wide variety of job titles related to program coordination and management, health education, community health services, advocacy, curriculum building, and more. From educating individuals, or building classroom curriculums or trainings, and even organizing large-scale community or state initiatives, Certified Health Education Specialists can work in offices large or small, in senior or entry-level roles, and in either freelance or full-time capacities for a variety of public and private-sector organizations. 


Career Settings for Health Education Specialists

Health education and promotion is a diverse field!  Within the six major career sectors for health education specialists, a wide variety of job titles and responsibilities can be found:

Setting:  Community Health Education

Setting: School Health Education

Setting: Business and Non-Profit Health Education

Setting: Academia and University Health Education

Setting: Government and Health Departments

Setting: Health Care



How much do health education specialists make?

Salaries of health education specialists will vary widely depending on geographic location, setting, education level, and other factors. Some employers are recognizing the value of certification by providing a salary increase for certified employees, or compensating for exam and/or continuing education fees. You can learn more about salary ranges health education specialists, which are dependent on many factors such as geographic location, educational background and degrees held, and years of experience in the field, by visiting the Bureau of Labor and Statistics

Some common job titles held by health education specialists include the following:

Education Program Manager

Health education program managers may fulfill a variety of functions. Some may work for community health centers to promote nutrition and active lifestyle programs or resources to help individuals quit smoking, lose weight, and lead healthy lives.

Minimum Level of Education: Bachelor’s Degree

Youth Program Specialist

Youth program specialists often work in schools and universities to promote health education programs and resources that benefit students of various ages. This may include working to implement health and wellness programs, healthy cafeteria menus and food options, better recreational and athletic facilities and equipment, and more. In some cases, youth program specialists may be required to have a degree in education in order to gain employment in a school district.

Employee Wellness Coordinator

Employee wellness coordinators offer a valuable service to small and large organizations alike by creating employee wellness programs to foster healthy habits and positive wellbeing. Employee wellness coordinators are instrumental in providing valuable employee benefits such as free exercise and yoga sessions, employer-covered gym memberships, healthy lunch and snack options, resources to promote positive mental health, and more.

Health Programs Management Director

Health programs managers and directors are often senior-level academics working for universities as both professors and university health advocates responsible for creating and implementing programs to promote health and wellness. Health programs directors may work in a clinical environment, such as in a university health center, or in an office environment to promote funding for university health initiatives. 

Health Program Analyst

Health program analysts often work to promote health education programs through marketing and public relations efforts while also actively participating in research initiatives to gain an understanding of the needs of the community. Health program analysts often work for government agencies, such as health departments, or in universities or medical centers, and their roles largely revolve around compiling and analyzing extensive data.

Community Benefits Manager

Community benefits managers often work in physicians offices, hospitals, treatment centers, mental health facilities, and other medical environments to promote health education programs for new parents or other patients. Community benefits managers play an active role in the creation of marketing campaigns as well as event planning, volunteer coordination, resource creation, program promotion, and more.



How do I become a Certified Health Education Specialist?

In order to pursue a career in health education, you should also consider working to become a Certified Health Education Specialist. To become certified, individuals must meet specific eligibility requirements and pass a written exam to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the seven areas of responsibility and competency for health education specialists.

Exam eligibility is based solely on academic achievements. Applicants must meet the following requirements in order to apply to take the CHES® examination.

  1. A Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctorate Degree from an Accredited Institution of Higher Learning

  2. A Degree with a Discipline in Health Education OR a Degree with a Significant Number of Credit or Semester Hours Based in the Seven Areas of Responsibility and Competency



How do I apply to become a Certified Health Education Specialist?

Applicants who meet requirements will be eligible for the review process which determines an applicant’s eligibility. Each applicant’s coursework and application will be submitted on an individual basis and will require official transcripts to be sent to the CHES® exam coordinator. The exam coordinator will then review an applicant’s experience and qualifications to determine if he or she can move to the candidate stage, where individuals prepare to take the examination.



What are the seven Areas of Responsibility for health education specialists?

The Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES®) examination consists of 165 multiple-choice questions regarding the Seven Areas of Responsibility, as well as corresponding Competencies and Sub-competencies for health education specialists. 

Area I. Assess Needs, Resources and Capacity for Health Education/Promotion

The first Area of Responsibility includes the assessment of needs for health education programs. Health education specialists satisfy this Area of Responsibility by working to identify existing resources that engage individuals while examining data from studies and government reports to determine the efficiency of current programs. Health education specialists may even be involved in studies and research to gather data to understand the impact of health programs.

Assessing the environment in which health education programs are offered is another important aspect of the first Area of Responsibility. Remaining aware of regional, national, and global trends, including social, economic, and political trends, is necessary in order to fully understand and evaluate the data collected from research studies and surveys. By assessing the effectiveness of programs, health education specialists can then play a role in area two of the Seven Areas of Responsibility: planning new health education programs.

Area II. Plan Health Education/Promotion

By identifying patterns and gaps in data, health education specialists are able to make recommendations for new health education programs and promotions. This may include meeting with government organizations, community leaders, and other officials to determine a course of action for the implementation and funding of new programs, as well as developing marketing plans to promote new resources.

Area III. Implement Health Education/Promotion

The third Area of Responsibility includes training individuals involved with the implementation or new programs and providing support and assistance to others involved in the training process. This may include developing training objectives, identifying training needs, evaluating training process and techniques, monitoring the use of resources, ensuring compliance with legal standards, and more.

Area IV. Conduct Evaluation and Research Related to Health Education/Promotion

The fourth Area of Responsibility focuses on research and evaluation of health education programs and resources through the development of an evaluation process and research plan. This includes developing research questions, developing a data analysis plan, creating new data collection instruments or adapting/modifying data collection instruments, ensuring that instruments generate reliable data, and collecting and analyzing data in order to interpret results. Once results have been evaluated, the health education specialist will then compare findings to other research studies and draw conclusions to propose possible explanations and develop new recommendations.

Area V. Administer and Manage Health Education/Promotion

Health education specialists fulfill the fifth Area of Responsibility by demonstrating effective leadership experience through the implementation and management of strategic campaigns and programs. This includes a focus on the management of financial, technology, and human resources for health education programs. This may include, but is not limited to, creating a financial plan or budget, conducting cost analysis reports, creating requests for funding proposals, writing grant proposals, and engaging public and private sectors and other stakeholders involved in resource funding initiatives.

Area VI. Serve as a Health Education/Promotion Resource Person

Health education specialists who have been instrumental in creating and executing marketing strategies to promote new programs and resources or those who have provided expert assistance, training, or consultation on health education issues and skills satisfy the sixth Area of Responsibility for health education specialists. Health education specialists working in this role may play a part in providing resources and information for the press, for government agencies, for universities, and more.

Area VII. Communicate, Promote, and Advocate for Health, Health Education/Promotion, and the Profession

The primary focus of the seventh Area of Responsibility is the identification and implementation of communication strategies and techniques that ensure program efficiency and compliance. This includes the development of policies to promote health education programs and resources as well as serving as a mentor to others in the profession, developing materials that contribute to professional literature, and engaging in services that advance the profession.

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