101 Careers in Public HealthIn this weekly feature, the editors of SpringBoard highlight one career in the health care professions–including a basic description, educational requirements, core competencies/key skills needed, and related web sites and professional organizations where you can find more information!

Job Description
Health promotion programs can be local, state-level, or nationwide efforts to get people to adopt healthier behaviors. Examples include the national “5 A Day” campaign to remind people to eat their fruits and veggies; a small-town program that helps migrant workers get access to health care; smoking cessation hotlines; condom distribution programs; and “fit city” exercise campaigns. There are programs that encourage corner grocery stores to carry healthier foods and doctors to talk to their patients about smoking. Each of these programs has a coordinator or manager (or sometimes more than one) to oversee everything from the planning process, to the daily activities, to the analysis of data that’s collected. Responsibilities can include developing educational materials, partnering with other organizations, raising funds, hiring and firing employees, reaching out to the media, and making sure that the program is running smoothly. In small programs, the coordinator may do all these things directly; in larger programs, a director will delegate tasks to employees.

This is primarily an office job, with the usual business hours. Program coordinators may also need to attend evening meetings, be present at weekend events or conferences, and visit community sites. Late hours may sometimes be needed to meet a grant deadline, prepare a report, or respond to media interest.

Education and Certification
A program coordinator usually has at least a bachelor’s degree. A master’s degree in public health or a related field is often required. There is no special certification required for this job, but for larger programs, especially, relevant experience is expected.

Core Competencies and Skills

  • Good public speaking and presentation skills
  • Strong management skills
  • Excellent social skills for interacting with program participants and leaders of other programs and organizations
  • Strong writing skills
  • Understanding of the population that the program serves
  • Knowledge of how to apply research results to real-world programs

Compensation depends on experience, on the size of the program, and on the budget of the agency or organization. Many jobs, particularly with small organizations or small programs, have salaries in the $40,000 to $50,000 range. Program coordinators can eventually become directors at programs with statewide or national reach, with higher salaries to match the level of responsibility.

Health promotion program coordinators usually work for academic institutions, government agencies, and nonprofits, or for consulting firms that serve these types of organizations.

Employment Outlook
Jobs are most likely to be available in cities and counties with larger and more active health departments, with corporations that are based nearby and have taken an interest in a particular situation, or with local foundations that have a special interest in promoting public health. Health promotion programs are often grant-funded and may continue for only a limited number of years, but new programs are often being launched, as well.

For Further Information