A healthy lifestyle can be challenging in today's fast-paced world. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a growth rate of 16% for health educators and community health workers, a higher rate than for most occupations. Nonprofit organizations and government agencies, especially at the local level, need competent health educators.
As a health educator, you can work with individuals, organizations, and communities. Health educators tend to report very high levels of professional satisfaction.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Health Education?
Health education programs sharpen a student's understanding of physiology, nutrition, psychology, management, communication, and program evaluation. Programs usually require a practicum or internship experience for students to gain professional development. Bachelor's in health education programs prepare graduates to pass health education specialists certification.
Recent high school graduates may prefer to earn their degree at on-campus programs. Conversely, working professionals often prefer flexible, online programs. Most online programs offer pacing options which allow students to accelerate coursework or lessen a course load for prolonged graduation. Both on-campus and online options offer the same rigorous coursework. Students in on-campus and online programs enjoy similar support services such as learning resources, internship assistance, and employment placement services.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Health Education?
Health education graduates serve a wide variety of client and community audiences through both public and private sector organizations. Occupations within this field require strong interpersonal and communication skills. Furthermore, students should have a strong work ethic with good organizational skills and habits. Nearly all positions require at least a bachelor's in health education. While some positions may not require certification, those who hold certifications tend to earn a higher salary.
- Health Educator
Health educators teach and promote wellness. They focus primarily on preventative education, but can also provide remedial education to mitigate a specific health problem. Health Education workers plan, implement, and evaluate programs.
Median Annual Salary: $43,788*
- Community Health Worker
Community health workers help the general public find relevant health information and resources. They address specific client requests and keep detailed records of client interactions. They often work closely with social workers to provide coordinated services.
Median Annual Salary: $34,964*
- Community Health Coordinator
Community health coordinators typically work for non-profit organizations or local government agencies. They plan, implement, and monitor healthy lifestyle programs. Those employed by government agencies often work with a diverse group of people.
Median Annual Salary: $42,562*
- Wellness Coordinator
Many wellness coordinators promote healthy lifestyles in healthcare organizations, universities, and large corporations through exercise and nutrition. They develop, implement, and evaluate health programs to ensure effective outcomes.
Median Annual Salary: $43,974*
- Health Promotion Coordinator
Working in community centers, public agencies, or large companies, health promotion coordinators organize healthy lifestyle programs. They also conduct health screenings, and manage organizations fitness facilities. They may coordinate doctors and nurses or oversee maintenance staff.
Median Annual Salary: $44,978*
How to Choose a Bachelor's Program in Health Education
Colleges offering health education degrees shape their programs to reflect a diverse job market. Students should check the course offerings and stated mission of each program, and consider internships or practicum requirements and college accreditation.
Look for programs that best accommodate your current life priorities. Consider where you want to live, your desired enrollment status, and program duration. Look for accelerated programs if you want to complete the program in less than four years. While on-campus programs offer more networking opportunities than most online programs, online health education degree programs offer flexible pacing.
Finally, do not shy away from colleges that charge higher tuition and fees. In many cases, these colleges offer more generous financial aid options that can dramatically reduce the net cost of your degree.
Programmatic Accreditation for Bachelor's Programs in Health Education
A health education diploma can lead to potential jobs, or lay the foundation for graduate studies. You can maximize your employment options by selecting an accredited college. Accreditation means a school adheres to standards of quality and continual improvement as verified by a team of third-party analysts. Consider applying to colleges that hold proper regional accreditation as recognized by the U. S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Some schools also hold programmatic accreditation for their health education or public health programs through the Council on Education for Public Health.
Bachelor's in Health Education Program Admissions
College admissions officers look for applicants who demonstrate a passion for health education. Just as you want to select the best school, admissions officers want students to fit well in their programs.
High school students should begin the college search and application process the summer before the senior year of high school, if possible. Nontraditional students can begin the college search as early as a year in advance. Applications may take up to a month to complete, so it is important to devote time to filling out your college applications.
- Minimum GPA: Many colleges require a 2.0 GPA at minimum. The more competitive schools will require a 2.5 GPA or higher.
- Application: Consider using the Common App to apply to qualifying schools. Apply separately to any colleges that do not take the Common App.
- Transcripts: Colleges require an official copy of your high school transcript. Transcripts can be sent through the registrar's office and may cost a small fee.
- Letters of Recommendation: Every college will require at least one letter of recommendation, although many schools require three letters. Consider asking former instructors or mentors.
- Test Scores: Most schools require a minimum ACT or SAT score. In some cases, students with lower scores can be conditionally admitted if they have a high GPA or letters of recommendation.
- Application Fee: Most colleges charge an application fee of about $50. Highly competitive schools can charge up to $100. If students express financial need, they may qualify for a fee waiver.
What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's Program in Health Education?
Colleges structure their educational programs to address both current and emerging needs in the profession. Select the health education degree program that best prepares you for your future career goals.
Courses in a Bachelor's in Health Education Program
Colleges offering a health education degree structure their curricula to reflect their own priorities and philosophies. As you research the colleges you would like to attend, consider course variety. Among the unique curricula of different schools, you will find some similarities in the essential courses available.
- Principles of Health Education and Promotion
This course covers the historical, cultural, philosophical, professional, and ethical issues in health education from an organizational and professional perspective.
- Human Nutrition
Students in this course study nutrition, topics include metabolic needs, diets, and supplementation. Special attention is given to the effects of familial, cultural, and regional influences on dietary habits. Students study the nutritional needs of special populations, such as athletes and those dealing with chronic disease.
Drawing on prerequisite coursework in statistics, this course helps students analyze the causes, patterns, and distribution of disease outbreaks in different populations. Students learn to read, comprehend, and prepare epidemiological reports. They study methods for monitoring, evaluating, and managing population health.
- Clinical Informatics
This course teaches students to use data to improve human health and health care services. Students learn applicable decision analysis techniques and decision support systems. The course addresses the sociotechnical and cognitive issues involved.
- Health Behavior Theory
This course analyzes theories of health behavior. Class discussions address the social and psychological factors that drive behavior. Students plan, implement, and evaluate health promotion programs.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Health Education?
Completing the 120 credits of a bachelor's in health education usually requires four years of full-time study. If you have credits from another bachelor's degree or an associate degree, you can transfer some of those credits. Check on the transfer policy of the schools that interest you. Furthermore, if you start the program with a considerable amount of related work experience, you may be able to receive credit. Credit transfers and waivers can take a year or more off of your program duration.
Online programs have more flexibility and some offer accelerated five or eight week courses, making it possible to complete the program in less than four years. Online delivery also makes it easier to pursue your degree part-time while working.
How Much Is a Bachelor's in Health Education?
While most health education degrees require 120 credits at the bachelor's level, the cost of the degree varies significantly by the college you attend. Tuition and fees can vary from as little as $5,000 per year, to as much as $54,000 per year. Most bachelor's programs average about $22,000 per year. Out-of-state students usually pay considerably more than in-state students for campus-based programs. Some schools charge online students in-state tuition, regardless of where they live.
If you decide to pursue an on-campus program, you'll need to consider the cost of housing and meals. Prices vary depending on the school you select. Housing usually falls between $7,000 and $15,000 per year. If you pursue an online degree, you can remain in your current living situation, which can reduce the cost of campus-related fees.
Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in Health Education Prepares For
- Certified Health Education Specialist
CHES credential is administered by the national commission for health education credentialing. Individuals must pass an exam that covers the seven areas of responsibility for health education specialists.
- Master Certified Health Education Specialist
Also administered by the NCHEC, the MCHES credential can be earned by someone who has completed their bachelor's degree in health education. Individuals must have at least five years of work in the health education field.
- Certified in Public Health
Graduates with a bachelor's in health education and five years of public health work subsequent to graduation, may apply for this certification from the national board of public health examiners.
- Registered Environmental Health Specialist/Registered Sanitarian
Applicants must have a health education degree and at least two years of work experience in environmental health to qualify for this professional credential from the national environmental health association. As with all professional credentials, individuals must pass a rigorous exam.
Resources for Health Education Students
The American Journal of Public Health publishes original work in research, research methods, and program evaluation in the field of public health. They aim to advance public health research, policy, practice, and education.
SOPHE offers an extensive array of health education and health promotion resources, including papers, books, and factsheets. They also provide links to related websites.
Published by the society for public health education, this bi-monthly journal provides health behavior research and discussions. The journal also covers practical matters involved in planning, managing, and evaluating health education programs.
The society for public health education publishes this quarterly journal to address curriculum pedagogy, course design, assessment, and administration to improve instruction in health education.
As the official newspaper of the American public health association, The Nation's Health covers the latest news and developments in public health education and administration. The paper is published ten times per year.
Professional Organizations in Health Education
Health education students and professionals can benefit from active membership in one or more professional associations. Members benefit from networking opportunities, career services, resources, and events. Many professionals hold active membership in more than one association.
APHA promotes the health of all people and communities. In addition to actively advocating for public policy, the organization publishes the American Journal of Public Health and The Nation's Health. APHA holds a large annual conference and provides access to an online job board.
ACHI offers training, resources and engagement opportunities to members. They hold an annual conference and publish a monthly newsletter. Members can also access a career center for employment opportunities.
A multi-disciplinary professional organization, the HCEA focuses on patient, family, and consumer health education. They build a link between healthcare providers and health education professionals. HCEA offers an annual conference and abundant publication resources.
ASHA promotes healthy students learning in safe environments. The organization stresses a multi-disciplinary approach that is reflected in their diverse membership. They offer an annual conference and publish the Journal of School Health.
Membership in SOPHE consists of more than 4,000 professionals in the U.S. and 25 other countries. The organization holds a national conference and publishes three professional journals. Members also benefit from their career connection service.