Health Education Responsibilities

Health Education Specialist (2020)

What is a health education specialist?

Health education specialists, also called health educators, educate people about behaviors that promote wellness. They serve their community in a variety of ways, using health-focused strategies to improve the well-being of their community members. 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.


Health education specialists have achieved a baccalaureate-level degree (or higher) and use their knowledge, skills, and training to assess and guide the health needs of individuals. They can serve in a range of settings, employing appropriate health education strategies to facilitate the development of policies, procedures, interventions, and systems conducive to the well-being of individuals, groups, and communities. Health education specialists can work in hospitals, clinics, schools and universities, government offices, businesses, and non-profits, just to name a few.

What is a certified health education specialist?

A Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES®) is an individual who has met required academic preparation qualifications and successfully passed a competency-based examination administered by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. A CHES® is required to satisfy continuing education requirements to maintain this national credential. A CHES® must hold a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in health education or significant and specific coursework in the field. The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) is the credentialing body responsible for this certification.


A Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES®) is an advanced-level certification that focuses on advanced skills to demonstrate leadership roles. Specifically, the MCHES® credential is hierarchical, meaning that MCHES® are competent in all entry-level (CHES®) skills, in addition to more advanced-level skills.. This certification is also issued by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) and requires an ongoing commitment to continuing education at both entry and advanced levels.

What are common job duties of a Certified Health Education Specialist? 

Certified Health Education Specialists are responsible for many areas of community and individual well-being, including:

  • Assessing the overall health needs of a specific population 
  • Developing policies, programs, and events to educate individuals or communities on health conditions
  • Defining and planning the desired outcomes and engaging priority populations
  • Producing plans and materials for implementation and evaluation of health programs
  • Coordinating and delivering health education and promotion interventions
  • Monitoring progress, resources, and overall sustainability of implementation
  • Aligning an evaluation plan with the intervention goals and objectives
  • Designing research studies, as well as measuring and interpreting the findings 
  • Identifying current and emerging health issues and examining their underlying causes
  • Engaging coalitions of stakeholders to address health issues and promote advocacy
  • Determining the factors that affect communication with the specified audience
  • Developing and evaluating messaging using communication theories and models 
  • Developing health communication plans and delivery methods for varied stakeholders
  • Coordinating with partners and preparing others to provide health education
  • Managing human, fiduciary, and material resources to achieve health objectives
  • Applying professional codes of ethics and demonstrating ethical leadership
  • Engaging in professional development to maintain and enhance proficiency

What’s new in the HESPA II 2020 Eight Areas of Responsibility? 

How are health education responsibilities and competencies changing? 

The Areas of Responsibility, Competencies, and Sub-competencies deliniated by the Health Education Specialist Practice Analysis II 2020 (HESPA 2020) are an updated, comprehensive set of eight responsibilities that define the contemporary role of a practicing health education specialist. These responsibilities will serve as the basis of the CHES® and MCHES® examinations beginning in 2022. 

What are the 8 Areas of Responsibility for Health Education Specialists? 

The updated list includes:

  • Area I: Assessment of Needs and Capacity
  • Area II: Planning
  • Area III: Implementation
  • Area IV: Evaluation and Research
  • Area V: Advocacy
  • Area VI: Communication
  • Area VII: Leadership and Management
  • Area VIII: Ethics and Professionalism

The Eight Areas of Responsibility (2020) differ from the Seven Areas of Responsibility (2015) in a few key ways. Some notable changes include the addition of the 8th Area of Responsibility: Ethics and Professionalism. Advocacy and Communication are now standalone Areas of Responsibility, with a variety of new Competencies and Sub-competencies reflecting the increasing role of social media.

What is A Competency-based Framework for Health Education Specialists – 2020?

A Competency-based Framework for Health Education Specialists – 2020 is an updated, 198-page publication containing descriptions of the processes, outcomes, and related materials of the psychometric study of the Health Education Specialists Practice Analysis II (HESPA II 2020) project, which delineated a new Eighth Areas of Responsibility. The publication is designed to be a resource for practitioners and educators in the Health Education and Promotion profession. It is intended to serve as a framework for professional preparation, credentialing, and professional development, and it will also form the basis for future CHES® and MCHES® examinations, beginning in 2022. 


To purchase a copy of A Competency-based Framework for Health Education Specialist – 2020, go to

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