Health education helps to improve communities’ awareness of various health issues, hence contributes to a healthier and more productive nation. Also known as health education specialists, health promotion specialists improve public health by educating people. To become a health promotion specialist, you need a biological or behavioral science degree, strong communication skills and an intricate understanding of health issues.
Health promotion specialists work in a range settings, including schools, hospitals, neighbourhoods and workplaces. They educate and advise the public on matters such as:
- Dangers of drug abuse
- Importance of healthy eating
- Importance of exercising
- Sexual, emotional and mental health.
Their day-to-day activities include:
- Conducting community outreach campaigns
- Lobbying for effective public health policies
- Preparing and distributing educational materials, such pocket brochures and newsletters
- Creating and implementing strategies for enhancing public health
- Partnering with government agencies and health organizations to organize public exhibitions.
Health promotion specialists work for 8 hours a day, Monday through Friday. When conducting community outreach campaigns, they also work in the evening and weekends.
Although these specialists are mainly office-based, they also spend some time other places of works, such as hospitals and schools.
The NHS’ Agenda for Change pay structure is used to set salaries for health promotion specialists as shown below:
Beginning health promotion specialists (Band 5)
£21,388 - £27,901
Experienced health promotion specialists (Band 7)
£30,764 and £40,558
Source: National Careers Service
To get started as a health promotion specialist, you must earn a bachelor’s degree in:
- Health studies
- Health promotion
- Public health
Visit the Universities and Colleges Admission Service to find more information on universities’ entry requirements.
Since education alone is not usually sufficient to get you a job, you can offer voluntary services in social work or any other relevant area to gain the experience required by employers.
If you are currently practicing as a nurse, midwife or doctor, you can also be considered for employment as a health promotion specialists.
Important Skills and Abilities
To execute your health promotion duties competently you will need:
- Excellent public speaking and writing skills
- Patience, perseverance and motivation
- The ability to influence people
- Good project management skills – the job may may involve managing budgets allocated to health campaigns
- Good organizational, analytical and decision-making skills
- Good problem-solving skills
- An interest in public health
To help ease into your roles, your employer will take you through on-the-job training as soon as you’re hired. The training will focus on areas such as public speaking, working with communities and running effective campaigns.
After working for some time, you can take the following courses to enhance your competence and brighten you advancement prospects:
- Level 2 award in health promotion, offered by the Royal Society for Public Health
- The Open University’s certificate in health promotion
- Master’s degree in health promotion or health development
As a health promotion specialist you can be hired by:
- The NHS
- Local authorities
- Health organizations
- Health promotion departments in government
With vast experience and advanced education, you could be promoted into the health promotion supervisor position where you will be tasked with managing other specialists. If you are competent enough, you could be hired as health promotion project manager.
Finally, the National Career Service estimates that there will be over 101,000 new jobs in the UK’s healthcare sector between 2014 and 2020. So if you are keen on helping people live healthier lives, employers are waiting to hire you. Good luck!