What Is a Health Educator?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Take a look at the role of a health educator and details on how to get health educator jobs. Get answers to "What do health educators do?" and look at responsibilities, duties, and typical employers.

[Feature image] A health educator wearing a blue shirt is talking to members of the community about health wellness issues.

A health educator is a trained professional who works with groups in community settings or with individuals to help them understand how to live a healthy lifestyle. Part of the role is assessing the needs within a community, developing programs to meet them, and educating that community on how to address unhealthy behaviours and lifestyle choices, such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. 

In this guide, you'll learn more about what a health educator does, the skills you need to be an effective health professional, where you might work, the education and training you'll need, and how to get started.

What do health educators do? Duties and responsibilities

The health educator's role is varied and vast, involving working with children and adults and being committed to instilling healthy habits into communities and individuals. The Government of Canada Job Bank lists the duties and responsibilities as follows [1]:

  • Work with others to develop government health policies using various methods such as conducting interviews and analysing statistical data. Duties can also include reporting findings to superiors and making recommendations. 

  • Develop health programs 

  • Manage health databases

  • Prepare reports based on information gathered from the private and public health care sector and evaluate programs. 

  • Identify health standards that may need remedial action

  • Assess health care programs and provide consultations as needed 

  • Respond to information requests and provide information via various outlets such as newsletters and other print media. 

The health concerns will vary depending on the community a health educator represents. Some common areas of education include smoking cessation, excessive alcohol consumption, drugs, unhealthy eating, and supporting the community to exercise effectively.  

How to become a health educator

Becoming a health educator involves a high level of education and relevant experience, especially if you want to specialize in a particular area. The following are essential to qualify for a health educator job:

Education and training

According to the Government of Canada Job Bank, the requirements for a health educator include a bachelor’s degree or college diploma in health science, public administration, recreation administration, or hospital administration. Also acceptable is a bachelor's degree in social science. Some roles may require a graduate degree in health, social science, or administrative discipline [2].

Work experience

To work as a health educator, you need to have some relevant experience. Look for opportunities to shadow a health educator to gain experience in a public health setting, education, or community work, even in a voluntary capacity. Working in a school is an excellent experience, as is any role in a community setting. Building relationships and having good communication skills are critical, so experience working with people is essential. 

Any experience that demonstrates leadership is also a plus, along with sensitive roles to cultural diversity. 

Do I need certifications?

The health educator role is not regulated in any Canadian province, so certification is not required as of May 2024.


What skills do you need to be successful as a health educator?

Health educators hone various skills, from interpersonal to organizational to technical. To land a health educator job, work on gaining and improving the following skills and qualities:

  • Communication (written and verbal)

  • Problem-solving

  • Critical thinking

  • Cultural and diversity awareness

  • Patience and empathy

  • Public speaking

  • Teaching 

  • Time management 

  • Organization and prioritization 

  • Computer skills (internet, database, and relevant software)

  • Leadership

  • Understanding cultural diversity

  • Ability to speak an additional language 

Work environment

A health educator’s work environment is as varied as the communities they represent. As the role involves assessing the community's health and well-being needs, the breadth of the role will depend on the community's needs.

Many health educators have an office as a base. Still, they spend much time off-site within the community, meeting with relevant organizations and delivering workshops and programs in community venues. When in the office, you will collect and analyse data, make contact with referrals, evaluate services, file reports, and devise programs and interventions. 

You will spend time in the community meeting service users, delivering programs, and making individual visits. Hours tend to be regular office hours, but you may occasionally need to work evenings and weekends in line with the community’s needs. 

Where do health educators work?

Health educators in Canada may work in government, hospitals,  universities, educational institutions, community agencies, and non-governmental organizations. 

The Government of Canada Job Bank lists the following job titles for health educators:

  • Child health care programs planning officer

  • Drug and alcohol abuse consultant

  • Health care consultant

  • Health care planner

  • Health policy research analyst

  • Mental health programs consultant 

  • Policy development officer - nursing home

The job outlook through 2025 is “Moderate” to “Good” for many provinces [3]. 

Next steps

To begin your career as a health educator, enroll in a bachelor's program in public health or a related field. If you’ve already earned a bachelor's degree, you can expand your job prospects by enrolling in a Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan on Coursera. 

If you're still deciding if this is the right career choice, consider taking Yale’s Health Behaviour Change: From Evidence to Action online course to understand the social factors contributing to health-related decisions and behaviours. 

Article sources


Government of Canada Job Bank. “Health Educator in Canada, https://www.jobbank.gc.ca/marketreport/occupation/24541/ca.” Accessed May 6, 2024.

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