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How Do I Become a Health Educator?

By Rachel Burkot
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A health educator instructs people on important lifestyle guidelines and topics that will help them live a well-rounded and holistic life. To become a health educator, certain personality traits are required, as well as the ability to commit to an education in the public health field. Becoming a health educator also requires ongoing education and the ability to adapt to new trends.

The person who chooses to become a health educator must have a passion for health issues and should maintain risk-free standards in his or her own life. Health educators must have social skills and be comfortable educating and informing people on certain topics. This career also involves public speaking, so health educators should not be afraid to stand up in front of a crowd. Examples of topics health educators are asked to speak about include reasons to avoid fatty foods, the health risks of smoking, and lifestyle choices to prevent diseases such as cancer.

To become a health educator, major in health education or a similar discipline. Some colleges reward health education programs with a bachelor of science, while others grant a bachelor of arts. After graduation, you can become certified as either a health educator or a certified health educator specialist (CHES). In addition to a bachelor’s degree, the passing of an examination is required to get the certification. Specifics regarding the test vary by state, but nationwide certification is a standard for almost every job in the health education field.

Individuals who want to become health educators should also think about getting a master’s degree in public health. It can’t hurt since many employers of health educators are beginning to require an advanced degree in health training. Additionally, health educators do not stop learning after they receive degrees. It is crucial that a health educator stay tuned in to medical news and discoveries because this is a field that is constantly changing. To convey healthy lifestyle habits to clients, the health educator must be aware of the most current trends.

To become a health educator, a person must also be able to work well with a group. Health educators often combine knowledge and research to collaborate on projects or speaking events. Health educators must also be able to combine sciences such as biology and anatomy with environmental and psychological sciences to promote the most effective lifestyle practices. A health educator can work as a health teacher in a school, but most health educators are employed in medical facilities such as hospitals and public health care centers.

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Discussion Comments
By pastanaga — On Aug 09, 2014

@croydon - In my experience with schools they tend to focus health education a lot more strongly on drugs than on sex, I suspect because it's a less controversial subject.

Although I don't know that they always do it the right way. It's very difficult to know whether you should emphasize the dangers of drugs or just give children (or anyone, really) the facts and hope they make the right choice.

Emphasizing the dangers can make drugs seem cool, or it can make it seem like health educators were being dishonest if a kid tries something and it isn't as bad as they were led to expect.

But you also don't want to be casual about something that some kids see every day of their lives, if you have a chance to help them to break the cycle.

By croydon — On Aug 08, 2014

@Iluviaporos - I know some nurses who come into our school to teach sex education and they apparently just ask up front what they are and aren't allowed to cover for each age level. I think in this kind of work you might have to just accept that you won't be able to do everything the way you want.

They generally aren't left alone with the kids because the teacher needs to know what they are learning about anyway, so it's not like they can just slip propaganda into the lesson without anyone noticing.

By lluviaporos — On Aug 07, 2014

Remember that part of being a community health educator, means that you are going to have work within the guidelines of the organization you work for. So, if, for example, you have very strong pro-choice beliefs, you shouldn't try to work for an organization that's going to be helping women with information about terminations. If you're firmly opposed to abstinence-only education, you shouldn't try to work with a school district that strictly follows that policy.

I know it might be tempting to try and work for places that you don't agree with so you can spread your own message, but it's dishonest to do that in a position of power and you'll probably lose your job pretty quickly as well.

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