Health Education Profession

The health education profession has a proud history of scientifically validating the Competencies that have become the basis of the professional credential(s), professional preparation, and professional development. The verified Responsibilities, Competencies and Sub-Competencies (currently 7, 26, and 258, respectively) define the profession and distinguish individuals from those trained in other disciplines.

The Health Education Profession & Certification History Timeline

  • 1978 - National Task Force on the Preparation & Practice of Health Educators established
  • 1978-1981 Role Delineation Project conducted
  • 1985 - A Framework for the Development of Competency-Based Curricula for Entry Level Health Educators published
  • 1988 - NCHEC incorporated as a nonprofit organization
  • 1989 - Charter CHES® certification phase
  • 1990 - First CHES® exam given
  • 1997 - CHES® exam offered twice a year
  • 2000 - Code of Ethics for Health Education Profession adopted
  • 2005 - National Health Educator Competencies Update Project (CUP) results released (1998-2004 study)
  • 2006 - Revised framework, A Competency- Based framework for Health Educators -2006, published
  • 2007 - Revised study guide, The Health Education Specialist: A Companion Guide for Profession Excellence, 6th Edition, published
  • 2007 - CHES® exam revised based on CUP results.
  • 2008 - CHES® certification program accredited by National Commission on Certifying Agencies (NCCA)
  • 2010 - Health Educator Job Analysis (HEJA) Results Released (2008-2009 study)
  • 2010 - Revised framework, A Competency-Based Framework for Health Education Specialists-2010, published
  • 2010 - Revised study material, The Health Education Specialist: A Companion Guide for Professional Excellence 6th Edition, published
  • 2011 - CHES® exam revised based on HEJA results
  • 2011 - MCHES® certification first conferred via Experience Documentation Opportunity (EDO) for existing CHES®
  • 2011 - MCHES® first examination offered. EDO closed
  • 2013 - The CHES® certification program is re-accredited and the MCHES® certification program received accreditation by NCCA
  • 2015 - Health Education Practice Analysis (HESPA) results released (2013-2014 study)
  • 2015 - Revised framework, A Competency-Based Framework for Health Education Specialists - 2015 was released                
  • 2015 - Revised study guide, The Health Education Specialist Companion Guide, 7th Edition, was released
  • 2015 - ISO Accreditation as a Personnel Certifying Body Achieved
  • 2015 - MCHES® exam revised based on HESPA results
  • 2016 - CHES® exam revised based on HESPA results
  • 2018 - New HESPA II practice analysis study underway
  • 2020 - HESPA II 2020 verifies 8 Areas of Responsibility
  • 2020 - Revised framework, A Competency-based Framework for Health Education Specialists -2020 was released
  • 2020 - Revised study guide, A Companion Guide for Health Education Specialists, 8th Edition - was released

Bureau of Labor Statics Classification

The U.S. Department of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has a classification of health educator and defines health educators (SOC 21-1091) as those that provide and manage health education programs that help individuals, families, and their communities maximize and maintain healthy lifestyles. Health Educators collect and analyze data to identify community needs prior to planning, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating programs designed to encourage healthy lifestyles, policies, and environments. They link health systems, health providers, insurers, and patients to address individual and population health needs.They may serve as resource to assist individuals, other health professionals, or the community, and may administer fiscal resources for health education programs. Excludes "Community Health Workers" (21-1094).

  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), health educators held about 57,920 in 2020. The larger employers of health educators were as follows: Government, Hospitals, Oupatient care centers, Inidividual and family services. 

  • Employment of health educators is projected to grow 17 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will be driven by efforts to improve health outcomes and to reduce healthcare costs by teaching people healthy behaviors and explaining how to use available healthcare services.

  • Top five states with the highest employment of health education specialists: California, New York, Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Division of Occupational Employment Statistics (2019).

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