What Does a Health Educator Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

A woman standing in front of a poster showing that vegetables are good for heart health, she's instructing three kids. Text reads: "A Day in the Life of a Health Educator, Median salary: $54,220, Maintain patient logs, Consult with physicians and staff, provide health and wellness education, plan and implement programs and treatments"

Image by Maddy Price © The Balance 2019

Health educators teach individuals and communities how to live healthier lifestyles. They instruct them on nutrition and the avoidance of unhealthy activities like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. A health educator's goal is to provide people with tools that allow them to avoid developing life-threatening health issues.

About 57,500 Americans worked in this occupation in 2016. Governments and hospitals employ the majority of health care educators.

Health Educator Duties & Responsibilities

Some common duties of a health educator include:

  • Provide health and wellness education. Plan and implement programs and treatments specifically designed to address the patient's needs.
  • Evaluate, design, present, recommend, and disseminate culturally appropriate health education information and materials.
  • "Perform intakes on new and re-enrolling adults in various programs.
  • Facilitate classes according to the organization's guidelines.
  • Maintain patient logs of all who are scheduled for procedures.
  • Consult with physicians and staff regarding related health education services.
  • Present information effectively to diverse audiences.

Health Educator Salary

Health educators' salaries can vary somewhat depending on the area where they practice. The highest paid health educators were employed by private, state, and local hospitals in 2018.

  • Median Annual Salary: $54,220 ($26.07/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $98,530 ($47.37/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $32,030 ($15.40/hour)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018

Education, Training & Certification

This occupation requires education and certification.

  • Education: You must first earn a bachelor's degree in either health education or health promotion. Coursework will include psychology and human development. A foreign language is recommended because bilingual job candidates are more desirable.
  • Certification: Some employers will only hire job candidates who have received certification from the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. Those who have this voluntary credential are called Certified Health Education Specialists. Not all, but some, employers require every employee to have it.

Health Educator Skills & Competencies

In addition to formal education and certification, a health educator should also possess certain skills to succeed in this occupation:

  • Ability to provide instruction: The ability to teach is vital to your success in this occupation.
  • Communication skills: Excellent listening and speaking skills will allow you to understand your students' concerns and convey information to them.
  • Interpersonal skillsIn addition to being able to listen and speak to people, it's vital that you're able to understand their non-verbal cues. You must also know how to persuade them and negotiate with them.
  • Writing skills: Health educators must put together written materials used in teaching.
  • Problem-solving skills: Excellent problem-solving skills will allow you to identify the issues facing your students and develop ways to address them.
  • Computer knowledge: You should have excellent internet, software, and computer skills.
  • Insight: You should be able to interpret work plans and convert a community's needs into comprehensive educational programs.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for this occupation is excellent. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has classified it as a "Bright Outlook Occupation." The BLS predicts that employment will grow significantly faster than the average for all occupations between 2016 and 2026 at about 16%. This may be due in part to a growing national awareness of the importance of making health-conscious decisions.

Work Environment

Many health educators work in offices, but they're also on the road a good deal of the time, running offsite programs and attending meetings. The exception is community health workers, who spend the majority of their time in the field.

Work Schedule

This is a full-time position that often requires additional hours. Meetings and programs might be held in the evenings or on weekends.

How to Get the Job


Get a master's degree in public health education, community health education, school health education, or health promotion if you want an advanced position or a government job.


You must have completed or be close to completing your bachelor's degree to become certified. An exam is also required. You must take 75 hours of continuing education classes every five years to maintain certification.

Comparing Similar Jobs

Some similar jobs and their median annual pay include: 

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018