If you think health promotion is just about haranguing the public into eating more veg, you’d be wrong. Au contraire, health promotion specialists’ main goals are to improve the health of individuals, populations and communities.
The job role goes far beyond working with individuals to better their health; health promotion specialists are also integral to the strategy work behind health policy development.
Essentially, health promotion specialists work with organisations and communities, such as neighbourhoods, schools and hospitals, to make them aware of their roles in promoting health.
This might involve developing partnerships with influential people, organisations and communities to further public health. As part of this, health promotion specialists might look at ways of improving health information and the way that it is conveyed, distributed and accessed.
Health promotion specialists involved in the strategy side of the job will advise and try to ensure that local, regional and national policies affecting public health will be in service of health promotion.
Other health promotion specialists might be more hands-on and might work with the public to tackle things like smoking, obesity or sexually-transmitted diseases.
Salary & benefits
Starting salaries range between £21,000 and £34,000, whilst those working at a more senior level might expect salaries of between £30,000 and £46,000 a year.
Health promotion specialists usually work pretty regular hours: nine-to-five, Monday to Friday. They might be expected to work some evenings and weekends depending on the role.
Health promotion specialists are usually employed by the NHS, local authorities, Sure Start, voluntary or charitable organisations, or specialist health promotion departments. They might also work in international development or for international organisations such as the World Health Organisation.
This is a role usually open to graduates with a good degree in any subject (although largely in areas such as biological, social or behavioural sciences) or postgraduates with qualifications in a relevant area.
Degrees in health promotion, social science, public health, social health, nutrition or dietetics, biological science, education or similar might aid entry into the profession.
Entry with a HND is possible, although candidates will need plenty of previous experience or a relevant professional qualification.
All in all, candidates need to prove that they are experts in health related matters. As a result, some job roles might require a postgraduate qualification in health promotion or a related area.
Most health promotion specialist posts will ask for previous experience in the area, which is where work experience and volunteering work will be particularly helpful.
Otherwise health promotion specialists should possess top communication, networking and negotiation skills.
They should be highly motivated and enthusiastic about promoting health, have excellent problem solving and managerial skills, and be able to think strategically. Possessing initiative and the ability to think outside of the box will also be beneficial.
Training & progression
Most health promotion specialists will usually learn whilst on the job, perhaps supplementing their training with short courses. Training never really stops as all specialists are expected to keep abreast of developments and issues in the industry.
Career development will usually be determined by sector and employer. Health promotion specialists might look to enter senior health promotion specialist or assistant manager roles, or might move sideways into another sector.
With a healthy amount of experience, some health promotion specialists look to set up shop as freelance consultants.