Working as a clinical educator involves identifying needs and then planning, coordinating, supervising and implementing educational programs for clinicians, nurses and other mental health professionals. A career in this field may begin with enrolling in a bachelor’s degree in applied psychology program.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that health educator employment is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations in coming years. Job growth will occur because of the need to offset the rising cost of health care by teaching people how to improve their health. Further growth is expected as a result of an increasing demand for mental health services. Individuals with advanced education, specialization and certifications should enjoy the best career opportunities.
Typically, clinical educators are employed by private or public hospitals, mental health clinics and nonprofit organizations. These mental health specialists identify individual and group educational needs and develop programs to meet these needs. Clinical educators may also teach classes to clinicians, nurses and other caregivers, including patient family members. To ensure quality, they review and evaluate the results of the programs. Maintaining patient safety is another important part of the clinical educator’s job.
Some clinical educator positions are available at the regional or state level. Individuals in these roles may plan, coordinate and manage conferences and cooperative coalitions. Providing consulting services to state hospitals, county mental health agencies and community mental health centers are also common job functions of clinical educators.
Clinical educators typically work in an office setting, although the work environment will vary by employer. They may spend a great deal of time away from the office, meeting with the community, teaching programs or speaking with patients. A 40-hour work week is standard for this profession.
The BLS reports that the median salary for the health educators was $44,340 in May 2009. The middle 50% earned between $33,270 and $60,970 annually. The lowest 10% saw salaries around $26,120, while the highest 10% brought in about $79,290. Recent bachelor’s graduates will generally start out in the lower to middle end of the range. Clinical educators with the most experience and advanced education tend to have the highest salaries.
Most clinical educator positions require a bachelor’s degree. Some employers prefer a master’s degree or a bachelor’s degree plus previous work experience in the field. Aspiring clinical educators should look into summer jobs or internship programs while pursuing a degree in applied psychology to gain valuable experience.
The first step to this career can be a bachelor’s degree in applied psychology. Coursework typically includes lifespan development and technology, scientific and technical communication, research methods in applied psychology and social psychology.
Employers can be confident that graduates of an applied psychology program are able to:
A career in this field could be very rewarding if you are a collaborative worker who can establish a rapport with patients and communicate effectively with other professionals. Clinical educators must also be excellent presenters with strong leadership, planning and delegation skills.