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Health educators focus on helping groups of people, from family units to large urban communities, by developing educational campaigns and programs to promote healthy habits and environments. Their duties are more research-oriented and administrative.
Unlike other community health roles, educators don't usually work face-to-face with populations to collect information and provide counseling. Instead, public health educators analyze data about key demographics and work to create or improve health programs. This role is ideal for people who like to get a big-picture view of things and apply their problem solving abilities across broad populations. Depending on their preferred balance of advising and teaching duties, educators can choose from a number of specialized roles.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
A bachelor's degree can qualify prospective public health educators for many entry-level roles in their communities. However, if you plan on researching larger populations for government organizations, you will most likely need to complete a master's or doctoral program. Students are generally encouraged to participate in a public health internship, regardless of their education level, so that they can develop data collection,analysis, and advocacy skills.
These expectations will vary depending on the specialized research field you wish to work in – whether it's vaccines, safe sex education, or biostatistics. However, many employers prefer that you have experience working directly with the populations you will oversee. If you are researching a demographic that speaks a foreign language, then fluency in this language will also be a major consideration in the hiring process.
The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing offers Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) and Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES) to professionals, demonstrating high levels of competency and knowledge regarding public health methods. These credentials are sometimes, but not always, required by employers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a branch of the federal government, emphasizes the importance of degrees obtained from public health programs accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).
These professionals are Advance Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) who teach upcoming nurses about health standards and regulations. They often work as liaisons between academic institutions, local health organizations, and students.
Students who wish to become an APRN must take a significantly different academic track than most public health students. First, you must earn a Bachelor's in Nursing and become a licensed RN. Then you must attend a graduate program that focuses on advanced nursing education. However, most nursing graduate programs will require that RNs first complete a year or more of clinical work in certain specializations. Before you apply for graduate school, make sure that you meet these experience requirements.
Health instructors work in a variety of academic environments, including elementary schools, high schools, and in higher education. They are responsible for ensuring that students understand health risks and concerns that are relevant to their age group and location.
Public health students who wish to pursue a health teacher role will need to get a degree in education, so that you can become a certified teacher in your state. Search for colleges with education programs accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. During your degree program, you will most likely receive classroom training hours, where you will work directly with students and curricula.
After graduation, you will need to examine the teaching requirements for your state. Contact your local Department of Education to get information about applying for your state board exam. Once you are issued a teaching certificate and complete any other local requirements, you will be eligible to apply for most health educator jobs.
This role places a heavy emphasis on political awareness and advocacy work. You will be expected to communicate with nonprofits, legislative offices, academic institutions, and outreach groups to collect data, create reports, and guide decision makers during policy creation and updates.
This program has no additional requirements.
This internship emphasizes research, as graduate students delve into public health concerns such as epidemiologic techniques, HMO research, and vaccine safety.
Eligibility: Current graduate students who are studying public health, epidemiology, or other related fields.
Terms of Service: Students will have the freedom to develop a research project in conjunction with Marshfield Clinic researchers.
Deadline: TBD, applications open in November annually
Public health educators who are particularly interested in policy making and advocacy should explore this summer opportunity in Washington DC.
Eligibility: Undergraduates, graduates, and alumni with a GPA of at least 3.0.
Terms of Service: Participants will be expected to perform research-based duties, including the creation of data reports, dossiers, and web content.
Deadline: Rolling annual due dates: TBD
Undergraduates can gain valuable academic and field experience in the public health sector during this 10-month internship that takes place in both Georgia and New York.
Eligibility: Students must have already completed two years of college with a minimum GPA of 2.7.
Terms of Service: Students will attend a GRE prep course, spend 24 days working in the field with public health experts, attend field trips once a week, and take three mandatory courses.
Deadline: Mid-January, annually
These 10-week career experiences are based in Washington DC, giving students experience with data research, marketing, and communications.
Eligibility: Current graduate students attending a college that is accredited by CEPH and a member of ASPPH.
Terms of Service: Students must be able to commit at least 10 weeks to the internship and relocate to Washington DC during this period.
Deadline: March 20th, annually
This 3-4 month internship gives students and new graduates hands-on experience with policy advocacy, education development, and industry communications.
Eligibility: Current students and recent alumni of public health and policy programs.
Terms of Service: Participants will be expected to commit full-time to this internship, attend regular meetings, and perform duties related to community outreach, administrative work, and events planning.
Deadline: Rolling annual deadlines: October 1st, February 1st, and June 1st