Public health educators work to promote healthy lifestyles and prevent disease. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to become one.
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Public health educators work in a variety of settings, including public and private hospitals, clinics, government agencies, schools, and community organizations. They develop and implement programs to teach people about health topics such as disease prevention, nutritious eating, and exercise.
If you want to become a public health educator, you will need to complete a bachelor’s degree in public health or a related field. Some employers may require you to have a master’s degree or other advanced credential. To get started in this career, follow the steps below.
Step One: Complete a Bachelor’s Degree Program
The first step to becoming a public health educator is to complete a bachelor’s degree program. Many students choose to complete a degree in public health, health education, or a related field such as psychology, sociology, or communications. However, any bachelor’s degree can serve as a foundation for a career in public health education. During your undergraduate studies, you will likely take courses in human development and behavior, social and behavioral determinants of health, research methods, and program planning and evaluation. These courses will provide you with the skills and knowledge you will need to be an effective public health educator.
In addition to completing coursework, you should also consider completing an internship or volunteer experience in a public health setting. This will give you the opportunity to gain practical experience working in the field of public health. Internships and volunteer experiences can also be helpful when it comes time to apply for jobs after graduation.
Step Two: Consider Earning a Master’s Degree
While a bachelor’s degree is the minimum educational requirement for most public health educator jobs, many employers prefer to hire candidates with a master’s degree. A master’s degree in public health (MPH) is the most common type of advanced degree for public health educators, but other degrees, such as a master’s in nutrition or in health administration, may also be sufficient.
Earning an MPH or other relevant master’s degree typically takes two to three years of full-time study and includes coursework in topics such as biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health, and social and behavioral sciences. Students in MPH programs also complete a practicum or internship, which allows them to gain experience working in a public health setting.
Step Three: Obtain Certification
The public health educator certification process ensures that certified professionals have the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their jobs effectively. There are a number of different organizations that offer certification, each with its own requirements. Certification is not required in all states, but it may be beneficial to obtain certification from a national organization if you plan to work in multiple states or in a state that does not require certification.
The National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE) offers the Certified in Public Health (CPH) credential. To be eligible for the CPH, you must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and complete at least 60 semester hours (or the equivalent) of coursework in public health. You must also pass a written exam and an oral exam.
The American Public Health Association (APHA) offers the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential. To be eligible for the CHES, you must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and complete at least 25 semester hours (or the equivalent) of coursework in health education. You must also pass a written exam.
The Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) offers the Certified School Health Education Specialist (CSHES) credential. To be eligible for the CSHES, you must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and complete at least 21 semester hours (or the equivalent) of coursework in school health education. You must also pass a written exam.
Step Four: Advance Your Career
After completing your undergraduate or graduate degree in public health education, you may choose to pursue a career in public health education or related field. To advance your career, you may want to consider pursuing a master’s or doctorate degree in public health education or a related field. Additionally, professional certification and continuing education can also help you advance your career.
In conclusion, becoming a public health educator requires completing a bachelor’s degree in public health or a related field, completing a public health internship, and passing the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam. While there are many steps involved in becoming a public health educator, the career offers individuals the opportunity to make a lasting impact on the health of their community.