Opportunities for Community Health Workers
Community health workers (CHWs) often live in the community they serve. They spend much of their time traveling within the community, speaking to groups, visiting homes and health care facilities, distributing information and otherwise connecting with local people.
Some community health workers work in health facilities, providing case management, client education, interpretation and follow-up care. Others are employed by government agencies and nonprofit groups to provide community organizing, health education, Medicaid enrollment and preventive care services in the field.
Community health workers may:
- Staff tables at community events
- Provide health screenings, referrals and information
- Help people complete applications to access health benefits
- Visit homes to check on individuals with specific health conditions
- Drive clients to medical appointments
- Deliver health education presentations to schoolchildren and their parents and teachers
“Some community health workers work in health facilities, providing case management, client education, interpretation and follow-up care. Others are employed by government agencies and nonprofit groups to provide community organizing, health education, Medicaid enrollment and preventive care services in the field.”
Community health workers hired by health care agencies often have a disease or population-based focus, such as promoting the health of pregnant women or children, improving nutrition, promoting immunization or providing education around a specific health issue, such as diabetes or HIV/AIDS.
Community health workers are defined by the trust they receive from the communities they work in. To be effective, community health workers must secure, preserve and develop that trust. This can put the community health worker in a difficult position, particularly when there is a disconnect between program goals and community priorities. For example, communities that rely on their own traditional medical practitioners (such as native healers) may resist efforts by a community health worker to refer patients to Western health care resources. Community health workers must be able to balance their responsibilities to the community with their employer’s agenda.
Outlook and Salary Range
Throughout the United States, the community health worker field is burgeoning, both in interest and demand. The field is also rapidly expanding into new areas of health and community wellness as community health workers continue to improve chronic disease management programs, health insurance enrollment, immunization drives, HIV/AIDS treatment, access to mental health services and maternal-child health interventions. From 2014 to 2024 the projected salaries for community health workers is expected to grow by 14% or more, much faster than the national average.
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
- Senior community health workers can earn $42,000 to $52,000
- Supervising community health workers may earn $52,000 to $60,000
- Community health managers generally earn salaries above $60,000