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Health Communication: Career Information and Job Outlook 

The field of health communication represents the intersection of multiple disciplines, including health care, organizational communication, community education, marketing, and public relations. This broad representation offers vast employment opportunities.Graduates in the field have a variety of job opportunities with public, nonprofit and private companies and organizations. Whether you are working in the nonprofit sector, leading smoking cessation classes or in a leadership role at a major research hospital, educating and informing the public  in an effort  to promote public health and improve quality of life is the common goal. Those new to the field may work in outreach roles, and community education, while those with more experience may manage public relations for state health organizations, nonprofit groups or lead at the national level.

Professionals in this field can be employed with local or state health departments as well as federal agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the National Institutes of Health. Private companies - such as pharmaceutical manufacturers - and nonprofit organizations also hire health communication professionals.

Examples include:

  • A nonprofit professional communicating with a specific audience in the region, state or country about upcoming programs, support initiatives, newly approved medication, medical trials, government policy, and research breakthroughs (American Cancer Society, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, March of Dimes, etc.)
  • Health communication strategists leading campaigns related to healthy living (healthy eating, nutrition, exercise, smoking cessation), which are often led by local health departments, community education organizations and city governments
  • Crisis communication specialists whose focus it is to launch regional, national or worldwide campaigns related on issues that pose an immediate threat, such as water contamination, MERSA, Ebola
  • Healthcare advocates in a variety of positions who work with clients to help them understand policies, procedures, self-care, etc. 

Job Outlook in Health Communication

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that job opportunities for health educators and community health workers is projected to grow 21% from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will be driven by efforts to improve health outcomes and to reduce healthcare costs by teaching people about healthy habits and behaviors and utilization of available health care services. In May 2013, the median annual wage for health educators was $48,790. The median annual wage for community health workers was $34,620 in May 2013.

Other related opportunities are also expected to grow. For example, public relations specialists - which include health communicators - have a projected growth rate of 12%, which is average for all occupations, from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov).  The BLS reported public relations specialists earned a median annual salary of $54,940 as of May 2013.

Additional information may be found in the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/

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 Last Modified 8/3/16