An increasingly globalized world means that public health concerns may be more important now than they have ever been. Even throughout the past decade, outbreaks of Ebola, H1N1, SARS and other top emerging health crises have highlighted the importance of public health issues on a large scale.
Health education and communication professionals are responsible for coordinating public outreach within communities large and small. They are tasked with providing health-related news and prevention information, and can be a valuable resource in the event of a health crisis. Health educators are also concerned with promoting general health and wellness through lifestyle, and can also provide counsel in this regard.
Health education has a firm grounding in health sciences. As such, students can likely expect a mixture of classroom work and practicum requirements. Courses in a health education masters graduate program may cover subject matter ranging from epidemiology to marketing and media relations.
Applicants to a health education and communication master's program might best benefit from a background in natural sciences, such as biology and chemistry. Students may also benefit from participating in prerequisite courses in health science at the undergraduate level, though not all programs may list these courses as mandatory prerequisite requirements. It's important for prospective students to check with their chosen program and academic institution to determine what the prerequisite requirements are, if any, before applying.
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As an intersectional and multidisciplinary field, graduates in health education may be able to pursue potential career opportunities spanning a range of fields and applications. Public health educators might seek work within communities as advisors on matters of health and wellness, such as disease prevention and lifestyle adjustment. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, these professionals made a 2012 median annual salary of $48,7901. Community health workers operate in a similar capacity, though according to the BLS they focus more on data collection and analysis. The BLS reported the 2012 median annual salary for community health workers was $34,6202.
Health education graduates might also pursue more specialized career fields, such as health education and promotion. Further, the BLS reported that dieticians and nutritionists claimed a 2012 median annual salary of $55,240, with jobs expected to grow by 21 percent through 20223.
Pursuing graduate studies in health education and communication may be a good choice for students who are interested in health sciences and the medical field, but who may not want to attend medical school or serve a residency to become a doctor.
In recent years, public policy surrounding issues of health and wellness have been prominent in both local and federal politics, providing a potential opportunity for those with a desire to combine their medical and scientific acumen with a drive to help their communities on a larger scale.