Health and wellness counselors are professionals who work to provide communities with the tools and information necessary to prioritize their health and wellbeing. Sometimes referred to as community health workers, health and wellness counselors help to develop and implement community-based strategies that help to improve the overall health of individuals they serve.1
Typical Duties of the Health and Wellness Counselor
Health and wellness counselors perform a variety of roles for individuals in their community. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, health and wellness counselors can expect to perform the following duties on a day-to-day basis.
Above all else, health and wellness counselors work to promote wellness in the communities they serve, providing individuals with information and emotional support, while at the same time working to provide additional services as needed.
Work Environment for Health and Wellness Counselors
Health and wellness counselors can work in a variety of settings, from hospitals, to colleges, to nonprofits. Their day-to-day tasks may vary depending on the setting they choose to pursue their career. Although most work in an office for some portion of their workweek, a number of health and wellness spend time in the field collecting data and attending to community members.2
In a healthcare setting, health and wellness counselors have the opportunity to work one-on-one with patients and their families, helping them to understand their diagnosis and the future of treatment. They provide patients with emotional support and aid clients in finding outside resources such as support groups, additional counseling, or at-home care facilities to help them better manage their diagnoses and treatment.
Colleges and Universities
Health and wellness counselors who work in a college setting work to create materials on topics that affect young adults, including drug and alcohol use, safe sex practices, and the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle while in college. In this setting, health and wellness counselors can also work to create campus wide policies that promote student wellbeing and health.
In the nonprofit world, health and wellness counselors work to create informational materials and programs to best help the communities that they serve. Job duties may involve teaching policymakers about ways to improve health programs, or work to secure grants to help their communities learn about health concerns that directly affect them. Many nonprofits choose to focus on a single health problem or community, meaning that health and wellness counselors would be focusing on a single area of expertise. For some, that may be helping veterans cope with PTSD, while another organization might focus on providing resources for single mothers.
Health and wellness counselors can also work in the business sector, identifying health problems among employees and working to solve those issues to boost morale and improve the overall health of a company. They can work with management staff in order to promote weight loss company-wide, or focus on cholesterol and heart health. Their main objective in this environment is to strategize with management staff in order to improve morale, and prioritize wellness.1
Job Outlook and Compensation for Health and Wellness Counselors
According to the BLS, job growth is expected to be faster than the average for all occupations. Projections indicate that job opportunities will increase by 13 percent from 2014-2024.3 The need for health and wellness counselors has been growing, in part, by the recognition that preventative care significantly reduces healthcare costs overall, and has healthier outcomes for patients. Additionally, businesses have come to recognize that promoting wellness equates to a more happy and productive workforce.
Although pay will vary based on the environment you choose to work and the area you live, health and wellness counselors can expect to earn between $36,300and $51,960. Those who work in healthcare and government facilities tend to make higher wages, while those who work in civic organizations, nonprofits, or social assistance programs generally earn slightly less.4
Skills Every Health and Wellness Counselor Should Have
Health and wellness counselors work with a number of individuals to ensure that communities have access to the services they need. As such, it’s important that they possess a number of key skills including:
Education requirements for health and wellness counselors may vary depending on the field you choose to pursue. At a minimum, health and wellness counselors need a Bachelor’s degree in health education, social work, nursing or a related field. Earning an advanced degree in fields such as counseling will only improve job prospects and increase your skillsets, helping wellness counselors better connect with the communities they serve.5
For those who hope to work in a career that helps communities access information and promote their health and wellbeing, students who earn their Masters in Counseling from Wake Forest University Online will be prepared to flourish in a competitive and growing health care environment. Communities will benefit from graduates’ expertise in prioritizing preventative care, helping clients access mental and physical health treatment, and advocating for individuals who need it most.