Do Health Educators Need to be Certified?

How to Become a Certified Health Education Specialists

Our guide on how to become Certified Health Education Specialists covers education requirements and also the job duties and outlook. One question that many health education majors often ask is whether or not they need to be certified to work as health educators.

Health education is a flexible field that offers many areas of specialty. And Health Educators can also choose to work in either the public or private sectors. But regardless of where they may choose to work and what area of specialty they may choose, they will need to acquire the required credentials before they can begin working in their job of choice.


The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing oversees the credentialing of health education professionals. According to the NCHEC, certification is required for all persons wishing to work as health educators regardless of their chosen areas of specialty. Certification ensures that standardization in knowledge and skills exist for the health education profession and a bachelor’s degree to start.

Certification Requirements

The requirements to become certified as a health educator are not exhaustive, but the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing requires strict adherence to the certification process. The basic requirement is that applicants must have completed a health education bachelor’s degree program that has been accredited by a national accrediting agency for health education programs. Applicants who meet this requirement will then need to complete the NCHEC’s certification exam that focuses on patient education.

Certification Exam Overview

The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing offers two certification exams for prospective health educators: the Certified Health Education Specialist Exam and the Master Certified Health Education Exam. The CHES exam is for persons who are new to the field while the MCHE exam is for health educators with at least five years of experience in the field. There is a small fee to take these exams, and applicants can register for a seat on the NCHEC’s website.

Earning initial health educator certification requires passing a 165-question exam. The Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) test measures each candidates’ professional competency. Test takers receive three hours to answer the 150 scored and 15 pilot questions. Guessing at the multiple-choice questions doesn’t affect the official scaled score.

In 2019, the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing reported that 65 percent of takers pass. The CHES exam has an average raw score of 105.46. If failed, the exam can be retaken the next April or October for a fee.

Aspiring certified health education specialists take the test at proctored centers. The CHES exam is administered by Prometric, which has computer-based testing facilities in 160 nations. Certified testing staff supervises exam takers for the full 180 minutes.

Who Qualifies for the CHES Exam?

Applicants must be pre-screened to ensure they’ve taken 25 or more health education credits. Online applications are processed from May 1st to August 31st. Health educators must send an official transcript in English, a $100 application fee, and an academic advisor letter. Accommodations request forms are available for individuals with documented disabilities.

What Certified Health Education Specialists Do?

Health education specialists are community public health advocates who strive to prevent disease. They teach citizens healthy habits to improve their physical and mental well-being thru health programs

A health educator certification proves a specialist’s ability to develop persuasive public campaigns that spark impactful changes with health services. Health education specialists work to protect people from prevalent issues, including heart disease, mental health, addiction, obesity, diabetes, and STDs.

Getting communities fitter with regular exercise, public health education, school health education, community health education, checking health status, health sciences, public health practice, nutritious diets, and fewer risks like smoking is the goal. Health professionals may even study climate change to inform the public about environmental health threats.

What are Job Responsibilities for Heath Educators?

Do Health Educators Need to be Certified?
  • Evaluate the unique health needs of a targeted demographic
  • Plan strategic, creative programs to inform people of health risks
  • Develop educational materials like brochures and slideshows
  • Organize events and workshops centered on health promotion
  • Connect at-risk people with affordable health care services
  • Supervise the work of community health workers and assistants
  • Lobby for local, state, or federal policies that boost health care
  • Allocate health funding and resources to better serve citizens
  • Research and collect survey data to determine program effectiveness

Where do Certified Health Education Specialists Work?

Getting health educator certification unlocks mid-and upper-level public health jobs. Most health professionals work for the state, county, and also regional health departments. CHES positions are available at public and private hospitals.

Certified health education specialists can work at outpatient centers, free clinics, drug rehabs, churches, women’s health providers, and also nonprofit charities. Some health educators add PreK-12 state licensure for school employment. Businesses also hire CHES professionals to lead workplace health initiatives that have required academic preparation qualifications.

How Much Do Health Educators Make?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 59,600 health education specialists nationwide. Health educators received an average annual salary of $59,990 with an income range from $37,140 to $106,210 per year. Now’s an excellent time to pursue health educator certification since jobs are skyrocketing. Additionally, the BLS reports jobs for health educators will increase 8 percent by 2031 for 4,500 new openings.

Recertification and Renewal Requirements

To maintain the status of a certified health educator, health education professionals must renew their credentials annually. They must also recertify every five years. Before applicants can re-certify, they will need to prove that they have completed a total of 75 continuing education credits.

No less than 45 of these credits must have come from pre-approved providers. In some cases, applicants may be able to recertify by examination rather than by completing continuing education coursework. For a full explanation of these requirements, visit the NCHEC website.

Other Required Certifications For Health Educators

In most job roles in health education, the only certification required is certification through the NCHEC. But other certifications may be necessary if the student chooses to specialize. For example, if a student chooses to specialize in sports education, health sciences, certification in sports science may be necessary.

Or maybe the student would like to work strictly with deaf or autistic children. In these cases, ASL or special needs certification may be required. Rising graduates can find out what type of certifications they may need after graduating by speaking with a guidance counselor.

Is Being a Health Educator Worth It?

Health education is a broad field that offers many fantastic job opportunities. Before obtaining a position in this field, one must apply for health educator certification through the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing as described above.

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