With a master’s degree in health education, you may be qualified to teach nutrition, preventative medicine and elements of healthy living in schools or communities. Read on to learn about degree programs, possible careers for graduates of Master of Health Education programs, as well as professional certification options.
Health Education degrees
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What Is a Health Educator?
Health educators provide education to individuals to help them promote and achieve wellness. They create, initiate and implement strategies and programs to improve the health of individuals and communities. Health educators fall into different job categories based upon education and experience. They may also serve a dual role of both health educator and community health worker. Health educators are uniquely trained to have the ability to work in a wide variety of environments, including hospitals, non-profits, health departments, doctor’s offices and sometimes even remotely as a virtual health coach. You can get an overview of entering this career field via the table below:
|Degree Required||Bachelor’s degree at minimum; some positions require a master’s or doctoral degree|
|Key Responsibilities||Teach in communities about wellness|
|Licensure/Certification Required||Certification may be required|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)||12%*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$51,960*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
How Can I Earn a Master’s in Health Education?
At the graduate level, you can earn a Master of Arts in Health Education (M.A.), Master of Science in Health Education (M.S.) or Master of Health Professions Education (MHPE). Both the M.A. and M.S. in Health Education are designed for individuals already employed in the health field or graduates with bachelor’s degrees in a health-related subject. These programs are gateways to teaching certification, and some schools include tracks for individuals with a teaching certificate and for those without.
The Master of Health Professions Education is commonly available through online learning and can also be found in traditional classroom settings. This degree program prepares students for teaching or administrative duties. You will have to complete 26-32 semester hours of courses in evaluation of medical scholarship, curriculum planning and assessment techniques. You may be required to complete a portfolio or thesis project and gain hands-on experience in teaching.
What Can I Do?
After completing your Master of Health Education, you can find work in schools, community health organizations or private businesses, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). As a health educator, your duties include giving the public – be they students, corporate employees or patients in a medical facility – information to help them make healthy choices. Health educators also develop programs, like community forums to inform the public about health-related issues.
How Much Can I Earn?
On average, health educators in the United States earned a median salary of $51,960 in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lowest ten percent earned $30,250 or less and the highest ten percent earned $92,950 or more.
What Professional Certifications are Available?
Once you’ve earned your master’s degree, you can complete voluntary certification, such as the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) administered by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing or NCHEC (www.nchec.org). Certification requires qualified candidates with a degree in health education to pass a written test. To maintain the CHES certification, you must renew this credential annually, and complete the recertification process every five years.
Health educators are service oriented professionals and, for someone with a public service desire, the professions of epidemiologists, mental health counselors and social workers could all be considered alternative careers. Epidemiologists are also public health professionals who research causes of disease and injury. These professionals require a master’s degree and have a similar pay scale as health educators. Mental health counselors have a listening and well-trained ear and are skilled in cognitive interviewing and behavioral management. Master level training is often required for these counselors and they, too, have a similar pay range. Finally, often combined with health education is social work, as many similarities are seen. Social workers help patients solve problems and address challenges. Clinical social workers can also diagnose and treat a range of issues. Social workers typically have a master’s level training and comparable salary. Individuals interested in health education have other avenues that can also be explored.