What is a Certified Health Education Specialist?

A Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) is a professional who promotes health and wellness by providing education and resources to individuals and communities.

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What is a CHES?

A CHES is a certified health education specialist. To become a CHES, you must have a bachelor’s degree in health education or a related field, and you must pass a national exam. Once you become a CHES, you will be able to work in a variety of settings, such as schools, hospitals, and community health organizations.

The history of the CHES designation

The Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential was first introduced in 1973 by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. (NCHEC). The CHES credential was created in response to the need for qualified health education professionals to staff the growing number of comprehensive health education programs being developed across the country.

More than 40 years later, the CHES credential is recognized and valued by employers across the United States as an indication of an individual’s knowledge, skills and dedication to the practice of health education. Today, there are more than 7,000 active CHES holders working in a wide variety of settings, including hospitals, universities, community health centers, state and local health departments, non-profit organizations and corporate wellness programs.

While the title “health educator” can be used by anyone without formal training or certification, the CHES credential is only awarded to individuals who have met certain eligibility requirements and who have successfully completed a rigorous examination. The examination covers seven content areas that are essential for effective practice as a health educator:
* Assessment
* Planning
* Implementation
* Evaluation
* Administration and Management
* Professional Responsibility
* Diversity and Cultural Competency

In order to maintain their credential, CHES holders must participate in continuing education activities on a regular basis. These activities keep CHES holders up-to-date on the latest developments in the field of health education and allow them to expand their knowledge and skills.

The requirements to become a CHES

In order to become a CHES, one must first complete a health education program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). To be eligible to take the exam, an individual must have completed their degree within five years of the date of their application. There are currently no online programs that are accredited by CAHIIM.

In addition to completing an accredited program, individuals must also have completed a certain amount of Practicum experience hours in order to be eligible to take the exam. The minimum amount of practicum hours required varies depending on the type of degree an individual has completed.

Once an individual has met all of the eligibility requirements, they may then register for and take the CHES examination. The examination is offered year-round at testing centers across the United States.

For more information on the CHES credential, including a complete list of accredited programs and information on renewing your credential, please visit www.nchec.org

The benefits of becoming a CHES

A Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) is a professional who has met the criteria for certification set forth by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. (NCHEC). The CHES designation indicates that an individual has demonstrated competency in the Seven Areas of Responsibility for Health Education Professionals. The CHES credential is nationally recognized and valued by employers. Let’s discuss some of the benefits of becoming a CHES.

Increased job opportunities

As a CHES, you will have an edge over other job applicants who have not gone through the certification process. Many employers are now requiring certification as a way to ensure that their employees are up-to-date on the latest health education methods and principles.

In addition to opening up new job opportunities, becoming a CHES can also lead to career advancement. If you’re already working in the field of health education, becoming certified may help you move into a higher-level position. And if you’re looking to change careers, the CHES credential can give you the knowledge and skills you need to break into the field of health education.

Higher salaries

CHES’s earn higher salaries than those without the credential. In fact, the average salary for a CHES is $10,000 more than the average salary for a non-certified health education professional.

Greater job satisfaction

As a CHES, you will be highly sought after by employers! In fact, many employers require certification for certain health education positions. Certification not only makes you more qualified for these jobs, but also demonstrates your commitment to the profession. In addition, certified health educators earn a higher salary on average than those without certification.

How to become a CHES

To become a CHES, you must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, complete a minimum of 25 hours of continuing education in health education, pass a written examination, and complete an oral interview.

Earning a bachelor’s degree is the first step to becoming a certified health education specialist (CHES). To be eligible for the CHES exam, you must have completed a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university with coursework in each of the seven areas of responsibility for health educators. These seven areas are:

-Behavioral theories
-Communication and marketing
-Community organizing and advocacy
-Ethics
-Health policy and law
-Professional development and program evaluation
-Research methods

Pass the CHES examination

To become a certified health education specialist (CHES) you must:

1. Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education in health education or a related field, OR have completed coursework equivalent to a major in health education* from an accredited institution of higher education
2. Pass the CHES examination**
3. Meet the continuing education requirements to maintain the credential

*If you have not completed a bachelor’s degree in health education or a related field, please refer to the Health Education Specialist Eligibility Requirements for detailed information about coursework equivalency options.

**The CHES examination is offered year-round by appointment, Monday through Saturday (excluding holidays), at hundreds of Prometric testing centers across the United States. The examination fee is $265 for regular registration and $390 for late registration. To learn more and to register, please visit www.nbche.org/ches-exam/.

Maintain continuing education credits

To maintain the CHES credential, certified health education specialists must complete 60 continuing education credits (CECs) every five years. CECs can be earned through a variety of activities and events, such as attending workshops and conferences, conducting research, publishing articles, presenting at conferences and serving on boards or committees.

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