While money is probably not the only factor you are considering in choosing your future career, you need to know that the education and training required for the occupation are worth it and that you will be able to make a living in that occupation. Although the role isn’t considered a lucrative job, health educators earn a median annual wage well above the median salary for all occupations. Prospective health educators can take steps to improve their salary, and they often find that other factors, like the satisfaction of giving back to your community, are part of what makes this career path appealing.
How to Maximize Your Earning Potential
Health educators are community and social service professionals who serve an important role in keeping communities healthy. Although they aren’t healthcare practitioners themselves, they serve as a point of connection between science-based healthcare information and laypeople who have no healthcare training. Health educators teach people about health and wellness through the strategies, community programs and educational materials they develop. The median annual wage for this role is $54,220, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That’s considerably more than the $38,640 median wage for all occupations and the $44,960 for other social service occupations, but still a bit lower than the $66,440 median salary for healthcare practitioner occupations.
One way to increase your earning potential as a health educator is to seek employment in the industries that offer the highest wages. Hospitals, which happen to be the largest industry of employment and account for 23 percent of health educator jobs, tend to pay the best. The median wage for health educators who work at hospitals is $64,830, the BLS reported. Next most profitable are roles in the government, in settings like public health departments. The median wage for healthcare educator roles with the government is $56,130. Around 22 percent of health educators work in this industry. Outpatient care centers, which employ eight percent of health educators, pay a median salary of $51,780. The median wage for religious, grantmaking, civic and professional organizations is $48,510. Among the top-employing industries of health educators, individual and family services, which accounts for seven percent of jobs, pays the lowest median salary, $41,330.
Another way to improve your income as a health educator is to expand your professional credentials. Some health educators go on to complete a master’s degree or a doctorate in a field like public health education, community health education or health promotion, according to the BLS. These degree programs often include studies in epidemiology, health systems and policies, the foundations of public health, social and behavioral health factors, applied biostatistics and environmental and occupational health. Through an internship, students can begin gaining hands-on work experience in a setting such as a local health department or community organization.
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With a master’s degree in community health education, you may be able to move into jobs like policymaker, global development project manager, nonprofit agency leader and worksite wellness coordinator. Some of these jobs with a health and wellness degree command much higher wages. Corporate wellness coordinator, for example, earns a median wage of $81,630. You can also seek a professional credential, like the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) designation from the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc.
Location is another factor that affects earning potential. Health educators in Washington, D.C., earn the most, with an average salary of $85,840. Maryland, Georgia, Rhode Island and Hawaii all have average health educator salaries between $75,000 and $85,000.
Benefits Beyond Salary
As most health educators can attest, it isn’t solely salary that draws individuals to this career. Like others in the community and social services occupations, health educators have a desire to help and give back to their communities. They make a difference to individuals who need help managing their existing medical conditions and help to prevent diseases in entire populations by educating communities about the importance of immunizations and healthy lifestyles.
Health educators also enjoy a much faster than average rate of job growth. While the BLS predicts opportunities in all occupations to grow by just seven percent, it expects jobs for health educators to grow by 14 percent, or 8,800 new jobs, over a decade.