Is becoming a health educator right for me?
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How to become a Health Educator
Becoming a health educator typically involves obtaining the necessary education and training, gaining relevant experience, and obtaining certification or licensure. Here are the general steps to becoming a health educator:
- Obtain a bachelor's degree: A Bachelor's Degree in Health Science, Public Health, or a related field is typically required to become a health educator. Coursework in this degree program may cover topics such as health promotion, disease prevention, community health, and health behavior.
- Gain relevant experience: Many health education positions require prior experience, so gaining experience through internships, volunteer work, or entry-level positions is important. This experience can provide valuable hands-on training and help you build a network of contacts in the field.
- Pursue advanced education: While a bachelor's degree may be sufficient for entry-level positions, obtaining a master's degree can increase your career prospects and earning potential.
- Obtain certification: Many health educators obtain certification from a professional organization, such as the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC). Certification typically requires passing an exam and meeting other eligibility requirements.
- Maintain continuing education: Health educators are often required to participate in continuing education courses to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and research in the field.
There are several certifications available for health educators, depending on the specific area of focus or specialization. It's important to note that the requirements for each certification may vary, and some certifications may require continuing education to maintain the certification. Here are some examples:
- Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) - offered by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC), this certification is for individuals who have a Bachelor's, Master's, or Doctoral Degree in Health Education or a related field. The CHES certification demonstrates that the individual has a comprehensive understanding of the Seven Areas of Responsibility for Health Educators, including assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation of health education programs.
- Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES) - also offered by NCHEC, this certification is for individuals who have a master's degree or higher in health education or a related field and have at least five years of experience in the field. The MCHES certification demonstrates a higher level of expertise in the Seven Areas of Responsibility for Health Educators.
- Certified in Public Health (CPH) - offered by the National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE), this certification is for individuals who have a Bachelor's, Master's, or Doctoral Degree in Public Health or a related field. The CPH certification demonstrates that the individual has a broad understanding of public health concepts and skills, including health education.
- Certified Health Coach (CHC) - offered by the National Society of Health Coaches (NSHC), this certification is for individuals who have completed a health coach training program and passed an exam. The CHC certification demonstrates that the individual has the skills and knowledge to help individuals achieve their health goals through behavior change.
- Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) - offered by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE), this certification is for individuals who have a minimum of two years of experience in diabetes education and have completed a certain number of continuing education hours. The CDE certification demonstrates expertise in the care and education of individuals with diabetes.