Health promotion specialist
30-40 per week
£21,388 + per year
Health promotion specialists (also known as health improvement specialists) aim to improve the health of the population through education.
In this job you will need to be persuasive and tactful, so that you can inspire and motivate people. You will also need good project management skills.
To get into this work you would usually need experience of working with community groups, plus a degree in a relevant subject such as biological, social or behavioural sciences. You can also get a job in health promotion if you have a qualification and experience in a field like nursing, teaching or social work.
If you can communicate well with a wide variety of people and you want to raise awareness of health issues, this could be the job for you.
As a health promotion specialist, you would raise awareness of issues such as:
- the importance of a balanced diet, and taking regular exercise
- the dangers of smoking or excessive drinking
- the risk of coronary heart disease and cancers
- mental health, sexual health, and drug misuse.
You might work with individuals on a one-to-one basis, or you may be focussed on specific groups of the population, such as older people or people with disabilities. You might also work at specific locations such as schools, workplaces or prisons.
As well as giving advice to people on how to make lifestyle changes, you would also be involved in more strategic activities to promote good health, including:
- working on public health campaigns such as screening and immunisation
- developing new ways to improve public health (influencing local, regional and national policy)
- working in partnership with agencies such as the NHS, voluntary organisations, local authorities and the police
- researching how much the public know about particular health issues
- producing publicity materials such as leaflets, brochures and videos
- organising exhibitions and events and working with the press
- running training courses and workshops.
You could also be involved in providing information and advice to key people like managers in health authorities and local councils. You will also work closely with other health professionals, such as doctors, nurses and health trainers.
Working hours and conditions
Your main working hours are likely to be 9am to 5pm, however, regular evening or weekend sessions may also be involved when working with the community.
You would be office based, but you would also work in different locations in the community such as health centres, hospitals, offices and sports centres.
The pay system in the NHS is called Agenda for Change (AfC).
Health promotion specialists usually start on AfC band 5, earning between £21,388 and £27,901 a year.
Experienced specialists could progress to band 7, earning between £30,764 and £40,558.
You will usually need a relevant degree, such as health studies, health promotion or public health. Degrees in psychology, social sciences, education and sports science could also be a useful starting point for entry into this role. You can search for degrees on the UCAS website, and you should check directly with course providers for entry requirements.
As well as a relevant degree, most employers will want you to have some experience of working with community groups. If you have no previous experience in health promotion or a related area, you could contact the health promotion unit or voluntary services coordinator at your local NHS Trust for information on voluntary opportunities.
You could also get into health promotion as a second career based on your professional experience in a related job. Experience in an area such as medicine, nursing, midwifery, health visiting, teaching, community or social work would be acceptable.
Training and development
Once you start work in health promotion, you will usually receive on-the-job training from your employer. The type of training you receive will depend upon your role and the organisation you work for.
The Royal Society for Public Health offers courses in health promotion and has a Level 2 Award in Health Promotion.
You could also take a Certificate in Health Promotion offered by the Open University, which is at a similar level to the final year of an honours degree.
To work as a senior practitioner involved in leading projects and staff, a postgraduate qualification is likely to be seen as essential by employers.
If you do not have a relevant postgraduate qualification, you may be encouraged to work towards an MSc or postgraduate diploma in health promotion or health development on a part-time basis.
Skills, interests and qualities
To be a health promotion specialist you should have:
- excellent spoken and written communication skills
- the ability to influence and motivate people
- an understanding, supportive and non-judgemental personality
- the ability to think creatively
- project management skills
- good research and analytical skills
- motivation and perseverance.
Currently, the main employer of health promotion specialists is the NHS. However, you could also find work within local authorities and specialist health promotion departments within government.
There are lots of voluntary and charitable organisations who work on health issues, and there are often job opportunities in the area of health promotion.
You could also work at an international level for an agency such as the World Health Organisation. There are also charities and voluntary organisations working in international health development.
As an experienced health promotion specialist, you could move to a more senior role where you would be involved in planning projects and strategies. There would also be the option to move into a managerial role where you would be responsible for managing other health promotion specialists.
Jobs may be advertised in the local and national press and through Jobcentre Plus offices. You may find the following useful for vacancies and further reading:
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