What Is a Health Educator? A Complete Guide

Updated July 24, 2023

Image description

A woman in a wheelchair draws figures on a white board next to a list with the title "Health Educator Work Sectors" and these items:

1. Health care
2. Community and nonprofit
3. Education
4. Government
5. Business

If you have a strong interest in the health and wellness industry and like the idea of positively impacting the health of others, you may be interested in a career as a health educator. Health educators work closely with individuals and large groups to help them develop and maintain healthy habits. Learning about some of the primary responsibilities of health educators can help you determine whether this career could be a good fit for you.

In this article, we discuss what a health educator is, primary responsibilities, average salary, educational requirements and what sectors you can work in as a health educator.

Related: 20 of the Fastest-Growing Health Care Jobs

Related jobs on Indeed
Health Educator jobs
View more jobs on Indeed

What is a health educator?

A health educator is a health professional who teaches both adults and children how to incorporate healthy and positive habits—like diet and exercise—into their lives. Health educators develop materials and programs to promote wellness, gather statistical data and educate communities about healthy habits and health risks.

What does a health educator do?

Health educators have a wide variety of responsibilities, including:

  • Evaluating the needs of the communities they serve

  • Developing events and programs to teach people about a variety of health topics

  • Creating and distributing educational materials like pamphlets and posters

  • Helping community members get access to information and health services

  • Gathering and analyzing data to learn more about the audience they're working with and steps they can take to improve their health programs

  • Evaluating the effectiveness of their materials and programs

  • Advocating for better health policies and resources for members of their community

  • Teaching people how to manage their existing health conditions

  • Supervising staff members who are responsible for implementing health programs

  • Educating the public about the importance of health care services like cancer screenings

  • Offering informational health counseling and social support

  • Advocating for the needs of individuals and the community as a whole

Work environment for health educators

Most health educators work full-time in offices and health care facilities. They may work in public health departments, private businesses and nonprofit organizations. They may sometimes work at night or during weekends, particularly if they need to attend meetings or health-related events. Depending on their specific role, they may spend a large portion of their time outside of the office meeting with community members and supervising programs.

Read more: What Is Public Health? Education and Career Options

Five sectors for health educators

Health educators can apply their comprehensive knowledge of health and wellness, disease prevention and community outreach and advocacy to several different sectors and roles. Below are the five most common sectors with their respective career titles in health education. Please note that many of these roles can overlap in which sector they serve, based on funding and program.

1. Health care

Health educators work in health care settings such as hospitals, outpatient clinics and community outreach programs. There are several roles to consider in health care, each with its own health education responsibilities, including:

  • Patient education director

  • Health and wellness coordinator

  • Community outreach coordinator

  • Patient care coordinator

  • Medical resource manager

  • Nutrition services coordinator

  • Community benefits manager

  • Lactation consultant

  • Cancer information specialist

  • Medical resource manager

  • Biometric health screener

2. Community and nonprofit

Outreach and communication of health information are also needed in the community and nonprofit organizations—especially for underserved populations that might not be able to afford proper traditional health care and education. Health educators working in community nonprofit roles include:

  • Community health educator

  • Community outreach educator

  • Education program manager

  • Case manager

  • Drugs/alcohol educator

  • Family services specialist

  • Community outreach coordinator

  • Grant writer

  • Clinical research specialist

  • Health literacy program coordinator

  • Health education director

  • Program resource coordinator

  • Community organizer

3. Education

Health educators work in public and private schools, as well as for universities and colleges. They can work in public and private roles for grades K-12 in roles such as:

  • Head Start health specialist

  • School health educator

  • District wellness coordinator

  • Youth program specialist

  • Youth outreach coordinator

  • Health counselor

  • Director of health promotion

Health educators at the higher education level can be employed as:

  • Education director

  • Education outreach liaison

  • Adjunct faculty

  • Professor/assistant professor

  • Curriculum development specialist

  • Health and wellness coordinator

  • Health programs management director

4. Government

Health education is an ongoing need in civil service, with health department roles at the municipal, state and federal levels. In government health education careers, you can fulfill a public need but are limited by government funding and organization. Health educators can fill roles in government as the following:

  • Health officer

  • Accreditation coordinator

  • Epidemiologist

  • Environmental health educator

  • Violence prevention program coordinator

  • Health program analyst and advocate

  • Program resource coordinator

  • Public health inspector

  • Infection preventionist

  • Health information specialist

5. Business

Large companies often either directly hire or liaison with health education professionals to provide their employees with health services to include health prevention, wellness and educational programs. Health educators can work for businesses as:

  • Health education programmer

  • Diabetes educator

  • Health media director

  • Health journalist

  • Wellness consultant

  • Health coach

  • Employee wellness coordinator

  • Cultural competency director

Related: Job Description Examples for Health Educators

Average salary for a health educator

The national average salary for health educators is $62,612 per year, though salaries vary considerably depending on location, education, sector and responsibilities. Certain cities tend to pay higher salaries than others. The highest-paying cities for health educators are Atlanta, Los Angeles, Houston, Pittsburgh and Frisco, Texas.

For the most up-to-date salary information, visit Indeed Salaries, where you can search by geographic location and health educator career title.

Related: High-Paying Medical Jobs You Can Do With Little Schooling

Educational requirements

There are a number of requirements to qualify for a position as a health educator:

Bachelor's degree

Health educators must have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in health education or another related degree. Within these programs, students learn about health education and methods and theories of health behavior. Most of these programs include an internship opportunity to shadow a health educator and gain hands-on experience.

Graduate degree

Depending on the role you are pursuing, you may be required to pursue an advanced degree like a master's or doctorate. A graduate degree is particularly common in school health education, community health education or public health education.


Some employers may require or prefer candidates who are Certified Health Education Specialists (CHES), a credential that's offered by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. To obtain this credential, candidates are required to have a minimum of a bachelor's degree and pass a certifying examination. To maintain the certification, you are required to complete 75 hours of continuing education every five years.

Related: What Can You Do With a Public Health Degree?

See your instant resume report on Indeed
Get recommendations for your resume in minutes

Skills for health educators

Here are the most important skills to have as a health educator:

Interpersonal skills

Social skills are essential for interacting effectively with other people, whether individually or in a group. Interpersonal skills include communication and active listening, empathy, mentoring and instructing skills as well as an overall positive attitude.

Health educators need to be able to listen closely to the person with whom they are speaking and understand nonverbal cues. They also need to use negotiation and persuasive skills to help others understand the importance of maintaining healthy habits.

Problem-solving skills

Health educators use problem-solving skills to identify specific challenges that individuals may be experiencing and uncover strategies for resolving them. They also need to be able to brainstorm creative solutions for improving the overall health and well-being of their communities.

Communication skills

Health educators need to have strong written and verbal communication skills. They need to be able to communicate about complex health issues in a manner that's clear and easy to understand. They also need to be able to create written materials that convey health information. Some health educators may also need to be able to create written proposals to apply for funding.

Analytical skills

Part of the job of a health coordinator is to gather information. They must then be able to analyze that information to determine the highest needs of the community and develop programs that address those needs.

Teaching skills

Because health educators are frequently required to lead educational programs, facilitate discussions and teach classes, they need to have strong instructional skills, particularly public speaking skills.

Computer skills

Health educators need to have strong computer skills to develop materials with health information, apply for funding and research health-related topics.

Is this article helpful?
Explore your next job opportunity on IndeedFind jobs
Indeed Career Services
Resume Services
Get your resume reviewed or rewritten
Upgrade your resume
Interview Practice
Practice interviewing with an expert career coach
Book a session
Indeed Resume
Get noticed by employers
Upload a resume file
Salary Calculator
See your personalized pay range
Get your estimate
Resume Samples
Kick start your search with templates
Browse resume samples
Company Reviews
Access millions of company reviews
Find companies

Explore more articles

  • 35 Businesses Hiring Teachers
  • How To Explain an Employment Gap on Your Resume as a Parent
  • 16 Jobs in the Textile Industry (With Salaries and Duties)
  • 17 Careers Involving Boating (With Salaries and Primary Duties)
  • Should I Be a Vet or Doctor? (With Similarities and Differences)
  • I Chose the Wrong Career: Signs and What To Do
  • 5 Types of Acting Roles (Plus How To Find the Right One for You)
  • Do Board Members Get Paid? (Plus How Much They Make)
  • 15 Jobs for People Who Get Bored Easily (With Salaries)
  • How To Become a Substitute Teacher in Michigan in 8 Steps
  • 23 Ways for Teachers To Make Extra Money
  • 12 Highest-Paying Jobs for Felons (With Duties and Salaries)