Community health science, also known as community health education, involves developing, implementing and measuring health programs for individuals, families, organizations and communities. Professionals working in community health science employ preventive, rehabilitative and therapeutic methods to reduce human suffering and encourage healthy lifestyles. Factors that community health science professionals take into consideration when creating educational programs include the nature of the health problem, physical setting and target population.
Although community health science workers do not work directly with patients in clinical settings, clinicians such as nurses and physicians commonly transition into the community health education field. Community health science workers assess the need for health education and develop brochures and educational materials and proposals that promote behavior beneficial to community, family and individual health. For instance, community health science workers gather and analyze demographic data, organize health screenings and research funding for health programs. Putting together classes and demonstrations for youth on the effects of smoking and drinking is another way that community health science professionals educate the public on healthy habits and lifestyles.
One of the most common career paths for community health science professionals is a childhood or public health educator. However, jobs such as public health inspectors, research coordinators, epidemiologists and wellness consultants are also available in the community health science field. Additionally, community health science roles can be found in public health organizations, hospitals, universities, government agencies and private companies. Regardless of role or work environment, all community health science careers involve reforming public behaviors and policies by merging medical principles with health education.
The average salary for a health educator in the United States was $49,060 in May 2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, average salaries in the health education field ranged dramatically across different industries. For example, workers in outpatient centers and individual and family services facilities made $40,920 and $40,750, respectively. On the other hand, health educators working in hospitals reported an average salary of $56,560 yearly. Workers employed in specialty hospitals that focused on issues such as substance abuse reported the highest average salary at $59,210.
The BLS projected that employment in the health education sector will grow by 18 percent through 2018 because of rising health care costs in the United States. Health insurance companies, employers and governments will look for ways to control costs and increase efficiency in health care facilities. Community health science and education professionals will also be needed to educate people on living healthy lifestyles and preventing disease through early detection, exercise and nutrition. Although employment for health education professionals may decrease in secondary schools because of budget cuts, state and local governments and corporations are expected to increase their employment efforts for community health educators.