Health promotion specialists work in many different areas to promote public health. They are also sometimes known collectively as public health practitioners but individual job titles and roles vary depending on the area of work.
Some health promotion specialists have skills in specific areas including drink and drug abuse, smoking or teenage pregnancy. Others may work with particular client groups such as the elderly or people with disabilities. Alternatively, they may have a general remit. Responsibilities typically include:
- designing, managing and promoting health improvement programmes
- raising awareness of good health, diet and exercise through training and workshops
- giving advice to members of a particular community or social group
- devising health policies and schemes for assessing health needs
- liaising with, supporting the work of and providing expert advice to other voluntary, charity and statutory organisations
- managing projects
- keeping up to date with current health promotion trends
- supplying other organisations with specialist information and resources
- making presentations
- writing reports
- campaigning for the adoption and/or enhancement of national health promotion and preventative policies and measures
Health promotion specialists may be employed in the following roles:
- health improvement practitioner
- health protection practitioner
- public health nutritionist
- smoking cessation advisor
- substance misuse worker
- teenage pregnancy coordinator
The NHS employs most health promotion specialists and public health practitioners. Other employers include local authorities, voluntary and charitable organisations and national health and voluntary sector agencies.
Jobs are advertised on a variety of websites, reflecting the range of roles and specialisms in this area. Roles may be advertised on the NHS jobs website and the NHS Scotland recruitment website, and on the local government jobs websites for the UK, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. They may also appear on the websites of Public Health England, Public Health Wales and the Royal Society for Public Health, as well as on the Civil Service job search on GOV.UK. You may also see vacancies in newspapers and in vacancy lists produced by NHS trusts and local authorities.
There are no set entry requirements for health promotion roles, and there are routes into this area for both graduates and school leavers. Registration as a public health practitioner with the UK Public Health Register is voluntary, and is based on a local assessment and verification scheme.
Employers typically prefer graduates with degrees in public or environmental health or education, health promotion, health studies, nursing, or sport and exercise. Alternatively, they may accept a good degree in any biological, psychological or social science. A postgraduate qualification in public health or health promotion could be an advantage for candidates without a relevant first degree, and a masters in public health is often required for more senior roles. Previous paid or voluntary work experience gained in any role with a health promotion or public health remit is highly valued.
To find out about how you can get into a career in this area via a school leaver route, see the public sector and charity area of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.
Candidates should have a mature, non-judgemental, confident and caring manner. The ability to interact well with people from a wide range of backgrounds, together with good problem solving and project/time management skills are essential. Excellent communication skills are vital, as is the ability to motivate others.