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Health educators salary & career outlook

While doctors and nurses assist those who are sick or injured, health educators also play a vital role in the health care industry, by teaching people about wellness and helping them make healthy decisions. As part of their work, they may develop anti-drug campaigns, talk to school children about healthy eating, teach childbirth classes to expectant mothers or work with the media to share the importance of vaccinations with the public. Health educators can work in a number of different settings, including hospitals, nonprofits, private businesses, colleges, doctors' offices or government offices, though their work may also take them out into the community, into schools, nursing homes, clinics, public meeting centers or other locations.

Employment outlook and job prospects for health educators

Health care costs are rising, and federal health insurance mandates increasingly cover screenings and checkups as part of a growing emphasis on wellness and preventative care. This is driving demand for health educators. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that job opportunities for health educators in the U.S. will grow by 21 percent during the 2012-2022 period — a rate that is nearly double the average for all occupations nationwide.

The BLS reports that job prospects are likely to be more favorable for those with formalized education or specialized training in working with specific populations, such as the elderly, for instance. Additionally, knowledge of a foreign language, particularly Spanish, may enhance job prospects as well.

Health educator salary ranges and other information

The BLS reports that as of May 2013, the mean annual salary for health educators was $53,800. The top 10 percent of earners in the profession had an annual salary of $87,770 or more. In general, while hospitals employed the highest numbers of health educators, the top-paying industries for this profession were the federal executive branch of government, with an average annual salary of $94,970, and technical and trade schools, at $63,500 annually.

Several states on the East Coast of the U.S. paid the highest salaries for health educators, particularly those in the New England area, according to the BLS. The following are the highest-paying states for health educators, along with the mean annual wages earned by health educators in these states as of May 2013:

  • Maryland: $83,140
  • District of Columbia: $74,710
  • Georgia: $74,150
  • Rhode Island: $66,270
  • Delaware: $64,570

The top-paying metropolitan areas for health educators, according to the BLS, include:

  • Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, MD Metropolitan Division: $96,050
  • Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA: $80,300 (This area also had the second-highest level of employment of health educators of all metropolitan areas)
  • San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA Metropolitan Division: $73,780
  • Bremerton-Silverdale, WA: $72,800
  • Las Vegas-Paradise, NV: $70,010

Health educator teacher training: online and beyond

Most health educator positions require bachelor's degrees in health education or health promotion. Some employers, including the federal government or state public health agencies, require that candidates hold master's degrees, in areas such as public health education, school health education, community health education or health promotion. Students can enter master's degree programs from a variety of undergraduate backgrounds. If you're looking to enter this field, online health educator programs for bachelor's degrees or master's degrees can help prepare for you for the expanding job opportunities in the field. The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. says that there are roughly 250 academic programs that train health educators at the bachelor's and graduate levels.

Some employers also look for candidates who are Certified Health Education Specialists (CHES), a certification offered by the NCHEC. It requires a bachelor's degree and passing an exam.

For those interested in health education and joining nationwide efforts to strengthen preventative health care, it may be an ideal time to pursue a career as a health educator. Explore the various programs listed on this site to determine what might be the right program for you.

Sources:

Health Education Profession, National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc.,
http://www.nchec.org/credentialing/profession/

Health Educator, Science Buddies,
http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-engineering-careers/health/health-educator#education

Health Educators and Community Health Workers, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Jan. 8, 2014,
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/health-educators.htm

Occupational Employment and Wages for Health Educators, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, May 2013,
http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211091.htm