Employment and earnings
Full-time health educators generally work
a standard 9-to-5 day, 40-hour per week schedule. As
programs, events, or meetings require, however, they may
need to work in the evenings or on weekends.
Health educators held 57,900 jobs in May
2006, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
They worked primarily in general medical and surgical
hospitals, individual and family services, and local and
State governments. In addition, a small number of them
worked in outpatient care centers.
Median annual wages of health educators
were $41,330 in May 2006, according to BLS. The highest
earning 10 percent made more than $72,500, and the lowest
earning 10 percent made less than $24,750.
BLS projects employment of health
educators to grow faster than the average for all
occupations through 2014. Job growth is driven by the
rising costs of healthcare, increased awareness of
preventable diseases, the need for early detection of
diseases, and an increasing recognition of the need for
qualified health educators. People seeking work in this
field should have favorable job prospects.
Insurance companies, employers, and
governments are looking for ways to curb continued spikes
in healthcare costs. Because teaching people about healthy
living is less expensive than treating sick patients,
health educators’ skills in preventing costly illnesses
are in demand. Many serious illnesses—such as lung
cancer, heart disease, and skin cancer—are linked to
unhealthy but largely avoidable behaviors. As a result,
BLS projects that State and local governments, hospitals,
and businesses will hire health educators to teach the
public about lifestyle choices.
Not all diseases are avoidable, of course.
Many times, however, detecting an illness early increases
the chances for successful treatment. Health educators
teach people how to perform self-exams for some diseases
that are more easily treated if detected early, such as
testicular cancer. Therefore, health educators are
increasingly sought to make the public aware of the
advantages of early detection.
In the past, health education duties were
often assigned to nurses or other healthcare
professionals. In recent years, however, employers have
recognized that health educators are better trained to
perform those duties. As a result, demand has increased
for workers who have a background specifically in health
All of these factors have led to job
growth for health educators in most industries, but jobs
may decrease in secondary schools through 2014.
Cash-strapped schools frequently cut back on health
education programs and ask teachers trained in other
subjects, such as science or physical education, to teach
Overall job prospects for health educators are expected
to be favorable, however. Applicants who gain relevant
experience through internships or volunteer jobs will have
the best opportunities. Health educators who have at least
a master’s degree, which is generally required only when
working in public health, may have the best prospects.
Although this occupation is growing strongly, it still
employs relatively few people.
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