Community health workers (CHWs) are frontline health workers who have a close understanding of the community they serve. CHW’s frequently serve as a liaison between health/social services and the community to coordinate healthcare, government and social service systems.
These dedicated professionals strive to provide help to individuals throughout a community through outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy (American Public Health Association). CHW’s work in all geographic settings, including rural, urban and metropolitan areas and Native American nations.
Although their roles vary depending on location, CHW’s frequently assist in underprivileged communities where people may have limited resources; lack access to quality health care; lack the means to pay for health care; or languages other than English. CHW titles vary, depending on where they work and the organization (hospital system, state agency, faith-based organization).
Common titles include: community health advisor, family advocate, health educator, liaison, promoter, outreach worker, patient navigator, public health aide. In Spanish-speaking communities, community health workers are often referred to as health promoters or promotores(as) de salud.
Educational and certification requirements vary from state to state. The University of Florida program is designed to prepare participants for the educational requirements for State of Florida certification. It should be noted the core competencies learned can also be applied to other states' certification programs, where applicable.
Throughout the United States, employment opportunities are numerous for both on-site and remote work settings. The Department of Labor reports that the CHW profession is projected to grow 13% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average of all other occupations. Community health workers are rapidly expanding into new areas of health and community wellness. As community health workers these professionals aim to improve chronic disease management programs, promote health insurance enrollment, immunization drives, or coordinate access to mental health services or maternal-child health interventions.
Community health worker salaries vary depending on local economies, wage scales and demand. In major metropolitan areas, recommended starting annual salaries range from $35,000 to $42,000, while senior community health workers can earn $42,000 to $52,000 and supervising community health workers may earn $52,000 to $60,000. Community health managers generally earn salaries above $60,000.