Being a health education specialist serves an important role in business, health care, and non-profit organizations. Working in these settings, “there are currently more than 66,200 health educators promoting healthy lifestyles, conducting and evaluating health improvement programs, advocating and implementing change in health policies, procedures, and services (Sophe. org, 2010).
To complete these tasks effectively, health education specialists must have strong skills in “evaluation and survey research, program design and management, coalition building, policy/systems change, health literacy, health communications, social media, curriculum development and training, motivational interviewing, behavior change methods, and capacity building at institutional or societal levels (Sophe. org, 2010). ” Analytical, instructional, interpersonal, problem-solving, and writing skills are important as well.
Certification takes place once a health education specialist passes an exam that reflects the entry-level subcompetencies of the seven areas of responsibility. The seven areas of responsibility are “assessing individual and community needs for health education, planning effective health education programs, implementing heath education programs, evaluating the effectiveness of health education programs, coordinating the provision of health education services, acting as a resource person in health education, and communicating health and health education needs, concerns, and resources (Romas & Sharma, 2012, p. 0). ”
The exam itself consists of 165 multiple choice questions, 12% of the questions are related to the first areas of responsibility, 15% is related to both the second and fourth areas of responsibility, 24% is related to the third areas of responsibility, 11% related to the fifth areas of responsibility, 16% related to the sixth areas of responsibility, and 7% related to the seventh areas of responsibility (NCHEC, n. d. ). Before taking the CHES exam, a person must be eligible.
Eligibility is based on academic qualification, the bare minimum is having at least a bachelor’s degree, and an official transcript that clearly shows a major in health education or an official transcript that reflects at least 25 semester hours of coursework is required (NCHEC, n. d. ). Then, a CHES exam application must be completed either online, pdf download, mail, or prescreen services. The application itself includes a signed form, application fee, official transcripts, and advisor letter if 90-day option is used (NCHEC, n. . ).
Most people prepare for the exam by studying CHES study guides and suggested readings such as the Health Education Specialist: A Companion Guide for Professional Excellence 6th Edition, a Competency-Based Framework for Health Education Specialists — 2010, the Health Education Specialist: A Companion Guide for Professional Excellence, 7th Edition, and a Competency-Based Framework for Health Education Specialists – 2015.
Also, there are study sessions sponsored by SCDHEC Bureau of CH & CDP/Health Education and the SC Association for the Advancement of Health Education (SCAAHE) accessible in different states. Once an individual met the health education training qualifications and passed the certification exam, they are considered a certified health education specialist (Romas & Sharma, 2012). A national certification establishes a national standard of practice set by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) among certified health education specialists, and fulfills their self-esteem and self-actualization needs.
There are more career opportunities available such as dietitians and nutritionists, epidemiologists, mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, school and career counselors, social and human service assistants (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015). It is essential for competent people to have these job titles, because the community relies on their knowledge and experience. Having health educators leading the change in health behaviors from aspects of physical, social, organizational, and even political environments would allow members of the community to later reap the benefits of reduced costs of medical treatment.
The benefits of effectively reaching the public is a plus, but the main purpose of working is to have a steady income. According to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2015), “the median annual wage for health educators was $50,430 in May 2014. ” Between the years 2014 and 2024, employment of health educators is projected to grow 13 percent, which is faster than the average of all occupations (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015). According to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2015), The top 3 industries for health educators are Hospitals; state, local, and private, Government, and Ambulatory health care services.
Learning does not end after the completion of the exam. During the fiveyear certification period, CHES must accumulate 75 additional hours preapproved by NCHEC or quality activities that relate to at least one of the Seven Areas of Responsibility for CHES and at least one of the advanced-level Sub-competencies for MCHES (NCHEC, n. d. ). At the end of each year a renewal fee of $55 must be paid. Recertification is granted at the end of the fifth year from the additional hours and paid renewal fee. Most of the sources containing information on certified health education specialist overlapped.
The overlapped information were the seven areas of responsibility for entry-level health educators, duties and responsibilities of CHES, and education and certification requirements. Although, different work settings involve different job duties overall they develop and implement strategies to promote health and wellness. National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. provided me with majority of the information on CHES, and all aspects of the certification process was documented. I learned that health education specialist and health educators are used interchangeably.