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Health promotion specialist: Entry requirements

Although this area of work is open to graduates of many disciplines, the most relevant degree subjects are biological, social and behavioural sciences.

A degree in one of the following subjects may also increase your chances:

  • health promotion;
  • health studies;
  • public health;
  • nutrition;
  • dietetics;
  • environmental health;
  • community and youth work;
  • education.

Entry with a HND may be possible for candidates with extensive relevant pre-entry experience and/or a relevant professional qualification. Examples of relevant work experience include:

  • nursing;
  • teaching;
  • environmental health;
  • medicine;
  • social work.

A one-year top-up programme in health promotion is available for those with a relevant foundation degree or diploma.

Some health promotion jobs, such as those working directly with the public, may not require a postgraduate qualification. However, senior posts at a more strategic level, or those which involve responsibility for projects or other staff members, are likely to require a postgraduate diploma or MSc in a related subject such as health promotion, public health or health development.

Applicants should have an interest in health improvement and some employers will look for previous experience in this area. Related voluntary work or work shadowing may therefore be helpful.

Candidates need to show evidence of the following:

  • excellent oral and written communication skills;
  • ability to network effectively;
  • decision-making skills;
  • leadership skills and the ability to motivate and influence others;
  • an understanding of health issues;
  • empathy;
  • negotiation skills;
  • initiative;
  • problem-solving ability;
  • time management skills;
  • determination;
  • creativity and the ability to think strategically;
  • research skills;
  • project management skills.

They should also be good at building and maintaining relationships with individuals and organisations, including public, private, community and voluntary bodies.

To find out more you should talk to practitioners and visit public health organisations, such as:

  • primary care trusts;
  • local authorities;
  • specialist health promotion units.

Think about the area of health promotion that you may wish to specialise in. You may be able to take short training courses in areas such as stopping smoking, working with patient groups (see the Expert Patients Programme ) and other skills-based training, for example in research, teaching or counselling.

Competition for posts varies depending on geographical location and particular specialisms. Health improvement is very much on the UK government's agenda and there are increasing opportunities for individuals with relevant skills.

For more information, see work experience and internships and search postgraduate courses.


Further information


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Written by AGCAS editors
June 2014

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