Health Educators


Education and Training Requirements

High School

English and speech courses will help you to build your communication skills, which you will use to write educational materials and reports, give health education presentations, and interact one-on-one with clients and coworkers. Many people from medically underserved populations do not speak English fluently. Taking a foreign language—such as Spanish—will help you to reach these groups and improve health outcomes. Take psychology and sociology classes to obtain a better understanding of human behavior. Other useful classes include statistics, computer science, mathematics, marketing, advertising, health, anatomy and physiology, and social studies.

Postsecondary Education

Health educators need at least a bachelor’s degree in health education or health promotion to work in the field. The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing offers a database of undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs in health education and promotion at

As part of their training, health education majors participate in at least one internship at an organization that provides health education services in order to build their skills and experience. These internships are often organized by their academic department or their school’s career services department. Additionally, the Society for Public Health Education offers a 12- to 13-week internship program for students at its Washington, D.C., office. Interns obtain experience in advocacy, program planning, communications planning/outreach, research, conference planning, fundraising, and chapter development, as well as perform administrative duties. They also work on a special project in policy and advocacy program planning, health education research, or another area. Visit to learn more.


Many colleges and universities offer certificate programs in health education or related fields. For example, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, offers a certificate in health education to students who complete the following required classes: Program Planning for Health Behavior Change, Implementation and Sustainability of Community-Based Health Programs, and Health Literacy: Challenges and Strategies for Effective Communication. Students also must complete several elective courses, including Health and Homelessness, Psychosocial Factors in Health and Illness, and Introduction to Persuasive Communications: Theories and Practice. In-person, online, and hybrid options are available. Contact schools in your area to learn about available programs.

Other Education or Training

The American Public Health Association, Society for Public Health Education, National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC), and associations at the state and local levels offer in-person classes, webinars, and other continuing education opportunities that help health educators keep their skills up to date, learn about industry trends, and qualify for re-certification. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

The NCHEC offers the certified health education specialist and master certified health education specialist credentials to applicants who meet educational and experience requirements and pass an examination. Certification is voluntary, but some employers require applicants to possess one or both of these credentials. Additionally, health educators who hold one or both of these certifications often earn higher salaries than educators who are not certified. Visit for more information on these credentials.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Any experience one can obtain in the field of health education—such as an internship, co-op, volunteer opportunity, or a part-time job—will be useful.

Health educators need a variety traits to be successful on the job. For example they need excellent communication skills in order to convey sometimes complicated health-related information to the public. Some health educators meet frequently with the public, while others give presentations to large audiences or online. As a result, they must be able to speak clearly and concisely in order to effectively convey information to their audiences. Health educators also write copy for flyers and press releases and even scripts for webcasts or other presentations, so they must know how to write well and convey information and advice in a concise, but interesting, way. Some health educators serve as liaisons with the news media and must be prepared to answer questions at news conferences. Good organizational, critical-thinking, and mathematical skills are also important because health educators must be able to collect and analyze data to determine what problems exist in a community and devise ways to address them and educate the public about the steps they can take to improve their health. Other important traits include time-management skills, patience, creativity, and a strong interest in improving the knowledge and health outcomes of the public.