How to Become a Certified Health Education Specialist

A certified health education specialist (CHES) is a professional who possesses the skills and knowledge necessary to promote health and wellness in a variety of settings.

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Introduction

Health education is a profession that has seen tremendous growth in recent years. The expansion of health care facilities and the aging of the population has created a need for health educators to promote wellness and provide information on chronic disease prevention. Health education specialists are trained to design and implement programs that will improve the health of individuals and communities.

The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) is the organization responsible for certifying health education specialists. To become certified, individuals must meet certain educational and experience requirements and pass an exam. Certification demonstrates that a health educator has the knowledge and skills necessary to perform their job effectively.

Health educators typically have at least a bachelor’s degree in health education or a related field. Many employers prefer candidates who have master’s degrees or higher. In addition to coursework, most programs include an internship or practicum experience that gives students the opportunity to apply their knowledge in a real-world setting.

After completing their degree, individuals can apply to take the exam to become a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). To be eligible, candidates must have completed at least 25 credit hours of coursework in seven content areas: assessment, planning, intervention, implementation, evaluation, administration, and research. Candidates must also have two years of professional experience in order to take the exam.

The CHES exam is offered three times each year and consists of 170 multiple-choice questions. It is administered by computer at testing centers around the country. Candidates have four hours to complete the exam and must answer at least 150 questions correctly to pass.

Those who successfully pass the CHES exam are credentialed for five years. To maintain their credential, CHES must complete 60 continuing education credits during that time period. These can be earned through attending conferences or workshops, taking college courses, or participating in other approved activities.

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What is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES)?

A CHES is a professional who possesses the required expertise and skills to plan, implement, and evaluate health education and promotion programs in diverse settings.

The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. (NCHEC) is a non-profit organization that administers the CHES exam. To be eligible to sit for the CHES exam, an individual must have completed a health education-related degree program at a minimum of the bachelor’s level from a regionally accredited institution and have completed a supervised practicum or internship experience.

In order to maintain certified status, CHES credential-holders are required to earn 60 continuing education credits (CECH) every 5 years. Certification is valid for 5 years and can be renewed through the NCHEC website.

The CHES credential has been nationally recognized since 1995 and is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).

Who is eligible to take the CHES exam?

To be eligible to take the CHES exam, an individual must:
-Hold a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution
-Complete a minimum of 25 semester hours of health education-specific course work and 225 hours of documented practical experience in a variety of wellness planning, program delivery, and evaluation settings
-Achieve passing scores on the written CHES examination

How to prepare for the CHES exam

Are you interested in becoming a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES)? If so, you’ll need to pass the CHES exam. This exam is designed to test your knowledge and skills in seven key areas of health education:

1. Planning and program evaluation
2. Needs assessment
3. Program implementation
4. Education for specific populations
5. Professional responsibility
6. Research application
7. Health education policy and advocacy

To help you prepare for the CHES exam, the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. (NCHEC) has developed a comprehensive study guide called “Preparing for the CHES Examination.” This guide includes a review of all seven content areas, sample test questions, and information on how to register for the exam. You can order the guide by contacting NCHEC at (202)659-7400 or by visiting their website at www.nchec.org.

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What is the format of the CHES exam?

The CHES® examination is a computer-based test consisting of multiple-choice questions. It is administered year-round at Pearson VUE testing centers. You can find a testing center near you by visiting the Pearson VUE website.

The examination is divided into seven domains of responsibility for health education specialists. The percentages next to the domain names indicate the approximate percentage of questions on the examination that will be asked from each domain.

Domain I: Planning (17%)
Domain II: Intervention (17%)
Domain III: Organization and Administration (15%)
Domain IV: Professional Development (9%)
Domain V: Evaluation (10%)
Domain VI: Research (4%)
Domain VII: Program and Population Management (14%)

You will have 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete the examination.

How is the CHES exam graded?

The CHES® (Certified Health Education Specialist) exam is a computer-based test consisting of 170 multiple-choice items grouped in modules by content area. You will have four hours to complete the test, which is given in one sitting. The passing score for the CHES® exam is 156, which corresponds to a scaled score of 700.

How much does it cost to take the CHES exam?

The cost to take the CHES exam is $225 for non-member and $135 for NCHEC members.

How often is the CHES exam offered?

The CHES® exam is offered year-round via computer-based testing (CBT). If you prefer, you may also take the test on paper during designated Paper-Based Testing (PBT) windows. Check the HECMA website for specific CBT and PBT dates.

What are the benefits of becoming a CHES?

There are many benefits of becoming a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). The CHES credential is recognized by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. (NCHEC) and meets the standards set forth by the National Task Force on the Preparation and Practice of Health Educators. By becoming a CHES, you are demonstrating your commitment to excellence in the field of health education and promotion.

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The CHES credential is portable, which means it can be transferred from one state to another and from one job setting to another. There are many employers who prefer or require their health educators to have the CHES credential, so becoming certified may make you more marketable in the job market. In addition, holding the CHES credential shows that you have taken the initiative to stay current in your profession and that you are committed to providing quality health education services.

CHES contact information

The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) is the accrediting body for the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) program. The CHES® credential denotes that an individual has met certain standards and possesses specific knowledge and skills related to public health education.

To be eligible for the credential, an individual must have:
-A bachelor’s degree or higher in health education or a related field from a regionally accredited college or university, OR
-A bachelor’s degree or higher with at least 25 credit hours in health education or a related field from a regionally accredited college or university, PLUS completion of a practicum or internship of at least 600 hours* in health education, OR
-An equivalent combination of educational experiences as determined by NCHEC.
-Completed a minimum of 2 years (4,000 hours) of professional experience in health education OR 1 year (2,000 hours) of professional experience if the individual has earned a master’s degree or higher in health education or a related field from a regionally accredited college or university.
-Passed the written CHES® examination.
-Adhered to the NCHEC Code of Ethics for the Profession of Health Education.

Contact information:
National Commission for Health Education Credentialing
1400 K Street NW Suite 1200 Washington D.C., 20005 Tel: 202/783-1300

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