What Do Community Health Workers Do?What Do Community Health Workers Do?What Do Community Health Workers Do?
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Each community has its own health concerns, ranging from tobacco use and obesity to heart disease and stroke. Students who are interested in combating those challenges by eliminating health disparities, promoting wellness, and strengthening community relationships among underserved populations will likely be drawn to a career in community health.
Possible Work Settings for Community Health Workers
Professionals who choose this career path may work in a variety of settings in the public, private, or nonprofit sectors. Although most work in offices, community health workers may spend significant time in the community holding events, overseeing educational programs, and attending meetings.
Work settings for community health workers include the following:
Outpatient care facilities
Individual and family services centers
State, local, and private hospitals
Public and private senior care facilities
Community Health Worker Job Responsibilities
Individuals who are interested in community health should know the roles and responsibilities of this profession are often tailored to the communities they serve. What community health workers do may also vary based on their place of employment — hospital vs. social service agency, for example. Job duties may include the following:
Advocating for a community’s health needs and developing ways to connect vulnerable populations with healthcare services
Collecting data about the health disparities in the community to aid the development of outreach and educational programs
Facilitating communication with healthcare providers by providing interpretation and translation services
Providing culturally appropriate information about healthier lifestyle choices
Conducting outreach programs about the importance of nutrition, physical activity, smoking cessation, and other topics linked with chronic disease prevention
Holding workshops to discuss how a community can adopt healthy behaviors
Researching and discussing health concerns with community members
Tracking individuals’ progress toward meeting their health goals
Fundamental Skills for Community Health Workers
Community health workers should understand how to take action to promote the health and well-being of the population they serve. Consequently, students who wish to pursue this career path need to develop a variety of skills to be successful. Those skills include:
Advocacy: Professionals who choose this career path will need to understand how to advocate for the specialized healthcare needs of the communities they serve.
Assessment: Community healthcare workers should know how to identify and assess healthcare disparities in a community, which will help in the development and implementation of programs to address those needs.
Interpersonal and Communication Skills: Relaying and receiving information is a critical part of what community health workers do. Individuals who want to pursue this career should focus on developing active listening skills as well as written and verbal communication skills.
Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving: Professionals in this field often need to use logic and reason to pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of community health. It’s also important they be adept problem solvers, able to retool teaching and outreach programs that need improvement.
Cultural Competence: Community healthcare workers should understand how to develop and implement culturally competent programs and services that meet the linguistic, social, and cultural needs of the communities they serve.
Salary Range for Community Health Workers
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that as of May 2019 the median wage for community health workers was $40,360 annually. Those in the bottom 10% reported annual earnings of $26,660, while the top 10% reported annual earnings of more than $68,350 per year. Top earners often have advanced education and years of work experience in the field.
Many factors influence the salaries of community health workers, including whether the position is in a high-cost-of-living area such as San Francisco, or a lower-cost-of-living area such as El Paso, Texas. Other factors, such as an individual’s years of experience and whether they’ve completed a bachelor’s or master’s degree, also play a role in annual compensation rates.
Community Health Worker Job Outlook
The BLS projects employment of community health workers will grow by 11% between 2018 and 2028, much faster than the average for all other occupations. Efforts to improve community health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs with behaviors such as exercising, smoking cessation, and healthy eating will drive this growth.
Job prospects will be best for individuals who have a formal education and experience working with a specific population, such as veterans or various minority groups. Enhanced opportunities are expected to be available for professionals who understand the culture of the community they intend to serve and who speak a relevant foreign language.
Your Path Toward a Career as a Community Health Worker Starts at Maryville University