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How to Become a Community Health Worker

Bachelor's degree

A bachelor's degree is required by those wanting to become health educators. Certain employers may require the CHES or Certified Health Education Specialist credential. Typically, community health workers have a minimum of a high school diploma. They must finish a brief period of training on the job or a certification program depending on their location.

Education & Training

A bachelor's degree in health promotion or health education is required for most entry-level health educator positions. These programs teach students health education methods and theories to help them gain the skills and knowledge necessary to develop programs and health education materials. An internship is included in most programs.

Certain jobs including those in public health agencies or within the federal government require a doctoral or master's degree. A variety of graduate health programs are commonly found in health promotion, community health education, public health education and school health education. A bachelor's degree must be obtained prior to a master's degree; however, a variety of undergraduate majors may be considered acceptable.

Typically, community health workers have at least a high school diploma. Some jobs however do require post secondary education. Some programs may offer a 2 year associate's degree or a 1 year certificate program. Topics including ethics, wellness and cultural awareness are discussed. Oftentimes, community worker have similar life experience or a shared language providing a deeper understanding to the community they serve.


A brief period of training on the job must be completed by community health workers to ensure adequate training. Training incorporates a variety of outreach skills and information in relation to specific health topics. For example, community health workers who focus on Alzheimer's patients may learn how to communicate effectively with dementia patients.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Depending on the employer, health educators must be a CHES or Certified Health Education Specialist. CHES certification provided by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. is the designation awarded to a candidate once an exam is complete. This exam is geared towards health educators at the entry-level who have finished their bachelor's degree or are within three months of graduating.

In order to maintain certification, 75 hours of continuing education must be completed by health educators every five years. There is additionally a MCHES or Master Certified Health Education Specialist. This designation is awarded to health educators with copious experience and advanced education.

Many areas do not require certification for community health workers. Voluntary certification is being developed or considered in numerous areas. Requirements can vary but include graduating from and approved training program.

Skills and Qualities that will Help

Analytical skills: Health educators are responsible for collecting and analyzing information and data to evaluate programs and figure out if they are adequately fulfilling the needs of the people they help.

Instructional skills: Community health workers along with health educators often partake in public speaking engagements and therefore, should be comfortable addressing large groups. They may teach classes, initiate conversation with families and clients and lead community programs.

Interpersonal skills: Community health workers and health educators interact with numerous people from all kinds of backgrounds. Being culturally sensitive and a good listener will be helpful for responding to the needs of those they are working with.

Problem-solving skills: Community health workers and health educators need to be creative when determining how to improve the public's health utilizing a variety of education programs. Community health workers and health educators additionally may need to solve issues that may arise along the planning phase including budgetary cutbacks and community resistance.

Writing skills: Community health workers and health educators frequently develop written reports to outline health related topics. Additionally, health educators write proposals to apply for funding and develop programs.