By 2026, the healthcare and social assistance sector is projected to add nearly 4 million jobs, accounting for about one-third of all new jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The sector’s employment share is expected to increase from 12.2 percent in 2016 to 13.8 percent in 2026. This will make it the largest job sector in America’s economy.
You could pursue several in-demand opportunities in healthcare, such as by becoming an oncology nurse. There are, however, other less-common-but-highly-attractive career possibilities that offer a good salary, strong employment growth and the ability to make a difference in people’s lives. One of those possibilities is found in pursuing a future as a health educator.
As a health educator, you’ll develop and implement strategies to improve the health of individuals and communities. Your primary duty is teaching people about behaviors that promote wellness. The BLS lists other common duties for health educators:
• Assess health needs of people and communities
• Develop programs, materials and events to help teach people about different health topics
• Provide advice on how to manage existing health conditions
• Help people find health services and information
• Create programs that train community health workers and other health professionals
• Supervise staff who implement health education programs
• Advocate for better health through improved health resources and policies
Health educators have different responsibilities based on work setting. Here are a few examples:
Healthcare Facilities: Health educators are sometimes known as patient navigators. In this role, they help patients and families understand health insurance options and connect them to outside resources. These professionals educate patients about their diagnoses, treatments and procedures. Other responsibilities include developing surveys, organizing health screenings and creating training programs for medical staff.
Public Health Departments: At these organizations, health educators administer public health campaigns for topics like stress management, nutrition and immunizations. They develop materials for public health materials, provide safety information to the public and the media during emergencies, work with professionals on public policies supporting healthy behaviors and oversee grants and grant-funded programs.
Nonprofits: Health educators at nonprofits develop programs and materials about community-specific health issues. They help organizations obtain funding, educate policymakers on ways to improve public health and help secure grant funding.
Health Educator Salary and Career Outlook
The median annual wage for health educators is $53,940, according to the BLS. The highest 10 percent earn more than $97,160 and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $31,440.
Salaries for health educators can vary depending on their employer. Here is a list of salaries in the top industries in which they work:
• Hospitals; state, local, and private: $63,510
• Government: $55,420
• Outpatient care centers: $51,130
• Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional and similar organizations: $48,640
• Individual and family services: $40,360
Employment of health educators is projected to increase 14 percent by 2024, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. A major reason for this growth is the focus on improving health outcomes and reducing healthcare costs in governments, healthcare providers and social service provider. Those types of employers will drive a greater demand for health educators who can teach people how to live healthy lives and avoid costly diseases and medical procedures.
Becoming a Health Educator
If you’d like to become a health educator, you’ll typically need a bachelor’s degree in a field related to health education. Some positions require certification and a graduate degree.
An online bachelor’s in healthcare administration and public health can help you pursue a career in this desirable field. Get the education you need to pursue a bright future as a health educator in public health departments, nonprofit organizations and more. Husson University’s program features a convenient online format and instruction from a dedicated faculty with years of experience. Plus, once you complete your degree, you’ll have the opportunity to earn a traditional MBA or a specialized MBA in healthcare management with only one additional year of study.