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How to Become a Health Educator

A bachelor’s degree is required for entry-level positions. Some employers may require the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential.


Entry-level positions require a bachelor’s degree in health education or health promotion. These programs teach students theories and methods of health education and help students gain the knowledge and skills to develop health education materials and programs. Most programs include an internship. Courses in psychology, human development, and a foreign language can be attractive to employers.

Some positions, such as those in the federal government or in state public health agencies, require a master’s degree. Graduate programs are commonly called community health education, school health education, public health education, or  health promotion. Entering a master’s degree program requires a bachelor’s degree, but a variety of undergraduate majors are acceptable.


Some employers hire only health educators who are Certified Health Education Specialists (CHES). CHES is a certification offered by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. Certification is awarded after the candidate passes a test on the basic responsibilities of health educators. The exam is aimed at entry-level health educators who have completed a bachelor’s degree or are within 3 months of completion. To maintain their certification, health educators must complete 75 hours of continuing education every 5 years.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Health educators analyze data and other information to evaluate programs and to determine the needs of the people they serve.

Instructional skills. Health educators should be good at teaching and public speaking so that they can lead programs and teach classes.

People skills. Health educators interact with many people. They must be good listeners and be culturally sensitive to respond to the needs of the people they serve.

Problem-solving skills. Health educators need to think creatively about how to improve the health of their audience through health education programs. In addition, they need to solve problems that arise in planning programs.

Writing skills. Health educators develop written materials to convey health-related information. They also write proposals to develop programs and apply for funding.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition