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Working as a Community Health Worker

What Does a Community Health Worker Do

Health educators teach people about behaviors that promote wellness. They develop and implement strategies to improve the health of individuals and communities. Community health workers provide a link between the community, health educators, and other healthcare and social service professionals. They develop and implement strategies to improve the health of individuals and communities. They collect data and discuss health concerns with members of specific populations or communities. Although the two occupations often work together, responsibilities of health educators and community health workers are distinct.

Duties

Health educators typically do the following:

  • Assess the health needs of the people and communities they serve
  • Develop programs and events to teach people about health topics
  • Teach people how to manage existing health conditions
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of programs and educational materials
  • Help people find health services or information
  • Provide training programs for community health workers or other health professionals
  • Supervise staff who implement health education programs
  • Collect and analyze data to learn about a particular community and improve programs and services
  • Advocate for improved health resources and policies that promote health

Community health workers typically do the following:

  • Discuss health concerns with community members
  • Educate people about the importance and availability of healthcare services, such as cancer screenings
  • Collect data
  • Report findings to health educators and other healthcare providers
  • Provide informal counseling and social support
  • Conduct outreach programs
  • Facilitate access to the healthcare services
  • Advocate for individual and community needs

The duties of health educators, also known as health education specialists, vary with their work settings. Most work in healthcare facilities, colleges, public health departments, nonprofits, and private businesses. Those who teach health classes in middle and high schools are considered teachers. For more information, see the profiles on middle school teachers and high school teachers.

In healthcare facilities, health educators may work one-on-one with patients or with their families. They teach patients about their diagnoses and about any necessary treatments or procedures. They may be called patient navigators because they help consumers find out about their health insurance options and direct people to outside resources, such as support groups or home health agencies. They lead hospital efforts in developing and administering surveys to identify major health issues and concerns of the surrounding communities and developing programs to meet those needs. Health educators also help organize health screenings, such as blood pressure checks, and health classes on topics such as installing a car seat correctly. They also create programs to train medical staff to interact more effectively with patients. For example, they may teach doctors how to explain complicated procedures to patients in simple language.

In colleges, health educators create programs and materials on topics that affect young adults, such as smoking and alcohol use. They may train students to be peer educators and supervise the students’ delivery of health information in person or through social media. Health educators also advocate for campuswide policies to promote health.

In public health departments, health educators administer public health campaigns on topics such as emergency preparedness, immunizations, proper nutrition, or stress management. They develop materials to be used by other public health officials. During emergencies, they may provide safety information to the public and the media. Some health educators work with other professionals to create public policies that support healthy behaviors and environments. They may also oversee grants and grant-funded programs to improve the health of the public. Some participate in statewide and local committees dealing with topics such as aging.

In nonprofits (including community health organizations), health educators create programs and materials about health issues faced by the community that they serve. They help organizations obtain funding and other resources. They may educate policymakers about ways to improve public health and work on securing grant funding for programs to promote health and disease awareness. Many nonprofits focus on a particular disease or audience, so health educators in these organizations limit programs to that specific topic or audience. For example, a health educator may design a program to teach people with diabetes how to better manage their condition or a program for teen mothers on how to care for their newborns.

In private businesses, health educators identify common health problems among employees and create programs to improve health. They work with management to develop incentives for employees to adopt healthy behaviors, such as losing weight or controlling cholesterol. Health educators recommend changes in the workplace to improve employee health, such as creating smoke-free areas.

Community health workers have an in-depth knowledge of the communities they serve. Within their community, they identify health-related issues, collect data, and discuss health concerns with the people they serve. For example, they may help eligible residents of a neighborhood enroll in programs such as Medicaid or Medicare and explain the benefits that these programs offer. Community health workers address any barriers to care and provide referrals for such needs as food, housing, education, and mental health services

Community health workers share information with health educators and healthcare providers so that health educators can create new programs or adjust existing programs or events to better suit the needs of the community. Community health workers also advocate for the health needs of community members. In addition, they conduct outreach to engage community residents, assist residents with health system navigation, and to improve care coordination.

How To Become a Community Health Worker

Health educators need a bachelor’s degree. Some employers may require the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential. Community health workers typically have at least a high school diploma and must complete a brief period of on-the-job training. Some states have certification programs for community health workers.

Education

Health educators need at least a bachelor’s degree in health education or health promotion. Students learn theories and methods of health behavior and health education and gain the knowledge and skills they will need to develop health education materials and programs. Most programs include an internship.

Some health educator positions require a master’s or doctoral degree. Graduate programs are commonly in community health education, school health education, public health education, or health promotion. A variety of undergraduate majors may be acceptable for entry to a master’s degree program.

Community health workers typically have a high school diploma, although some jobs may require postsecondary education. Education programs may lead to a 1-year certificate or a 2-year associate’s degree and cover topics such as wellness, ethics, and cultural awareness, among others.

Training

Community health workers typically complete a brief period of on-the-job training. Training often covers core competencies, such as communication or outreach skills, and information about the specific health topics that they will be focusing on. For example, community health workers who work with Alzheimer’s patients may learn about how to communicate effectively with patients dealing with dementia.

Other Experience

Community health workers usually have some knowledge of a specific community, population, medical condition, or disability. The ability to speak a foreign language may be helpful.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some employers require health educators to obtain the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential, which is offered by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. To obtain certification, candidates must pass an exam that is aimed at entry-level health educators who have completed at least a bachelor’s degree. To maintain their certification, they must complete 75 hours of continuing education every 5 years. There is also the Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES) credential for health educators with advanced education and experience.

Most states do not require community health workers to become certified, however voluntary certification exists or is being considered or developed in a number of states. Requirements vary but may include completing an approved training program. For more information, contact your state’s board of health, nursing, or human services.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Health educators collect and analyze data in order to evaluate programs and to determine the needs of the people they serve.

Instructional skills. Health educators and community health workers should be comfortable with public speaking so that they can lead programs, teach classes, and facilitate discussion with clients and families.

Interpersonal skills. Health educators and community health workers interact with many people from a variety of backgrounds. They must be good listeners and be culturally sensitive to respond to the needs of the people they serve.

Problem-solving skills. Health educators and community health workers must think creatively about how to improve the health of the community through health education programs. In addition, they may need to solve problems that arise in planning programs, such as changes to their budget or resistance from the community they are serving.

Writing skills. Health educators and community health workers develop written materials to convey health-related information. Health educators also write proposals to develop programs and apply for funding.

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Average Salary$39,579
Job Growth Rate11%

Community Health Worker Jobs

Community Health Worker Career Paths

Top Careers Before Community Health Worker

Top Careers After Community Health Worker

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Average Salary for a Community Health Worker

Community Health Workers in America make an average salary of $39,579 per year or $19 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $56,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $27,000 per year.
Average Salary
$39,579

Best Paying Cities

Average Salary
Salary Range31k - 48k$39k$39,148
Salary Range31k - 48k$39k$39,138
Salary Range31k - 48k$39k$39,095
Salary Range31k - 48k$39k$39,091
Salary Range31k - 48k$39k$39,014
Salary Range31k - 47k$39k$38,992
$25k
$50k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Community Health Worker/Contact Tracer-Health Department
Community Health Worker/Contact Tracer-Health Department
City of Baltimore, Md
City of Baltimore, Md
10/27/2020
10/27/2020
$35,00010/27/2020
$35,000
Community Health Worker
Community Health Worker
State of Oklahoma
State of Oklahoma
10/24/2020
10/24/2020
$30,00010/24/2020
$30,000
Peer Counselor/Community Health Worker Days)
Peer Counselor/Community Health Worker Days)
University of Washington
University of Washington
10/23/2020
10/23/2020
$36,28810/23/2020
$36,288
Portland Street Response-Community Health Worker (Coordinator I-NE)-Extended Close Date
Portland Street Response-Community Health Worker (Coordinator I-NE)-Extended Close Date
City of Portland
City of Portland
10/13/2020
10/13/2020
$50,17010/13/2020
$50,170
Bilingual Bicultural Community Health Worker
Bilingual Bicultural Community Health Worker
Nashua, New Hampshire
Nashua, New Hampshire
10/10/2020
10/10/2020
$42,96310/10/2020
$42,963
See More Recent Salaries

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Community Health Worker Demographics

Gender

female

70.6%

male

23.7%

unknown

5.7%

Ethnicity

White

56.2%

Hispanic or Latino

22.1%

Black or African American

11.8%

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

71.7%

French

7.0%

Portuguese

2.7%
See More Demographics

Community Health Worker Education

Majors

Degrees

Bachelors

45.6%

Masters

21.4%

Associate

11.7%

Top Colleges for Community Health Workers

1. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA

Tuition and fees
$56,225
Enrollment
19,548

2. California State University - Long Beach

Long Beach, CA

Tuition and fees
$6,798
Enrollment
31,503

3. San Jose State University

San Jose, CA

Tuition and fees
$7,796
Enrollment
27,125

4. San Diego State University

San Diego, CA

Tuition and fees
$7,488
Enrollment
30,018

5. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL

Tuition and fees
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

6. SUNY Stony Brook

Stony Brook, NY

Tuition and fees
$9,625
Enrollment
17,407

7. University of Washington

Seattle, WA

Tuition and fees
$11,207
Enrollment
30,905

8. California State University - Dominguez Hills

Carson, CA

Tuition and fees
$6,942
Enrollment
13,871

9. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Minneapolis, MN

Tuition and fees
$14,760
Enrollment
31,451

10. University of Utah

Salt Lake City, UT

Tuition and fees
$9,222
Enrollment
23,396
See More Education Info

Entry Level Jobs For Becoming A Community Health Worker

Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills For a Community Health Worker

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 13.9% of community health workers listed community health on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and physical stamina are important as well.

Best States For a Community Health Worker

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a community health worker. The best states for people in this position are New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island. Community health workers make the most in New Jersey with an average salary of $39,093. Whereas in Connecticut and New York, they would average $39,030 and $38,985, respectively. While community health workers would only make an average of $38,947 in Rhode Island, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Rhode Island

Total Community Health Worker Jobs:
32
Highest 10% Earn:
$57,000
Location Quotient:
1.79
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Pennsylvania

Total Community Health Worker Jobs:
288
Highest 10% Earn:
$58,000
Location Quotient:
1.29
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. West Virginia

Total Community Health Worker Jobs:
39
Highest 10% Earn:
$55,000
Location Quotient:
1.81
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Community Health Worker Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a community health worker. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

At Zippia, we went through countless community health worker resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Write a Community Health Worker Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless community health worker resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Detailed Information

How Do Community Health Worker Rate Their Jobs?

Zippia Official Logo

5.0

Community healthFebruary 2020

5.0

Zippia Official LogoCommunity healthFebruary 2020

What do you like the most about working as Community Health Worker?

Care of others. Wound dressing. Personal Cares. Show More

What do you NOT like?

Housework.. Heavy lifting. Grocery shopping for others. Show More

Zippia Official Logo

5.0

An advocate for better CHEWApril 2019

5.0

Zippia Official LogoAn advocate for better CHEWApril 2019

What do you like the most about working as Community Health Worker?

I like that am able to relate with my client well and solve their problem by providing adequate care and creating awareness on preventive measures Show More

What do you NOT like?

How people underrate community health workers Show More

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Top Community Health Worker Employers

1. UnitedHealth Group
3.9
Avg. Salary: 
$63,446
Community Health Workers Hired: 
56+
2. Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$47,322
Community Health Workers Hired: 
18+
3. CareSource
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$71,990
Community Health Workers Hired: 
17+
4. Sea Mar Community Health Centers
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$47,491
Community Health Workers Hired: 
14+
5. Peace Corps
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$43,309
Community Health Workers Hired: 
14+
6. Legacy Community Health Services
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$47,480
Community Health Workers Hired: 
10+

Community Health Worker Videos

Recently Added Community Health Worker Jobs

Updated October 2, 2020