How do You Become a Health Teacher?

A health teacher is typically responsible for instructing students in grades 9 through 12 regarding the care of their minds and bodies. Concepts a health instructor might focus on include sexually transmitted diseases, the prevention of drug abuse, and the benefits of good personal hygiene and nutrition. Becoming a health instructor requires a master’s or bachelor’s degree as well as certification and a student teaching internship. Health teachers must also be able to engage students, adaptable, patient and have good communication and instructional skills.

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

The first step to becoming a health teacher is to earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Pertinent majors may include health promotion, secondary health education, and school health. Keep in mind that education requirements vary depending on the state, but most colleges with programs accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) offer bachelor’s degrees with the necessary certification coursework.

Health teachers are expected to educate students regarding a variety of wellness and health topics, most of which will be covered in the bachelor’s degree. These may include sex education, drug abuse prevention, mental health, and nutrition. In most cases, future teachers are required to complete a teaching practicum, either by means of alternative teacher certification programs or through their undergraduate program.

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Get a Teaching Certificate

Health teachers must also be licensed, also known as certified, in the state in which they wish to teach. However, apart from student teaching field experience and a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, certification requirements vary by state. The state’s Board of Education is typically responsible for providing licensure, which usually requires an examination to prove their competence in health science and basic education.

Interested students may check with his or her state Board of Education for detailed requirements pertaining to the certification of health educators. After successfully completing a student teaching experience, a bachelor’s degree program, and all required professional examinations as indicated by the state, an aspiring health educator should be well-prepared to receive his or her teacher certification.

Complete a Master’s Degree

Aspiring health educators may consider earning their master’s degree in education. Most master’s degrees are designed for students who have already earned their bachelor’s degree but do not currently have certification. Other master’s degrees are designed for teachers who are certified in other disciplines but who wish to add a specific health certification to their license in order to teach health to students. The Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) is a common degree pursued by individuals with a bachelor’s degree in a similar subject who would like to obtain their license to teach health classes at the secondary level. Alternatively, students may earn a Master of Education (MEd) degree, and the curriculum may include classes on sexuality, mental health, and advanced study regarding specific health-related issues like eating disorders.

Continue Training and Education

Health teachers are typically required by the state in which they teach to complete annual training and professional-level education in order to keep their licenses current. The exact amount of hours required to continue training and education varies by state. Should a health educator fail to adhere to these requirements, he or she could be at risk of losing his or her license and certification and, as a result, be unable to continue teaching in the field of health education.

The field of health education is continuing to grow, and those who enjoy working with students to educate them about the importance of good mental and physical health may find success in this field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual 2016 median pay for a high school teacher, including a health educator, was approximately $58,030 per year.