Certified Health Education Specialist Education Requirements

A certified health education specialist is a health educator who has passed a test in order to demonstrate competency and academic knowledge in the field. These professionals tend to work at nonprofit organizations and schools, teaching the public how to live healthy lifestyles.

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The Job of a Certified Health Education Specialist

A health educator, as classified by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), promotes community education on healthy living, disease prevention, nutrition and exercise. The BLS (www.bls.gov) states that the majority of health educators in 2008 were employed in the healthcare and social assistance fields. Some of the other work environments included private businesses, colleges and universities, nonprofit organizations and schools.

A certified health education specialist's job might include planning and managing an event or program based on the assessed needs of a particular audience. For instance, a specialist might offer a series of lectures on underage drinking and sexual activity at a health fair for middle or high school students. These educators are often called upon to work with a committee or team to handle the logistics of events, along with creating videos, brochures and other educational materials.

According to Salary.com, the U.S. national average annual income for health educators in 2010 was approximately $51,000. Salaries ranged from $34,938 to $67,398.

Education Requirements

Although a bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement, it is common for health educators to hold master's degrees. Some programs are offered in the Master of Public Health or Master of Education format. In addition to education courses, students in this field tend to take classes in human development, psychology and social work.

To become a certified health education specialist (CHES), a health educator must pass a competency-based exam administered by the National Commission of Health Education Credentialing, Inc. (NCHEC). Individuals are eligible to take the exam if they have a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree from an accredited college or university. Also, according to the NCHEC (www.nchec.org), they must supply an official transcript detailing their health education coursework.

After the health educator passes the CHES exam, he or she is required to complete 75 hours of continuing education during a 5-year time frame in order to maintain certification. The BLS states that although many employment opportunities in this field do not require certification, some employers favor certified candidates. Also, some states' public health departments might stipulate that health educators be certified.

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