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Community Health Worker: Salary and How to Become One

April 14, 2024

Community health care delivers essential health and social services to communities and populations. When clients struggle to access services or have barriers that prevent them from doing so, a community health worker offers advocacy and support. Healthcare professionals considering this career can explore key community health worker salary information, responsibilities, educational requirements, and other information about this role.

Community Health Worker: A Definition

Community health workers are trained healthcare professionals who offer advocacy, education, outreach, and support to community members. ​While some work in healthcare facilities, many work in and among community members, building relationships as they make outreach and healthcare programs more accessible and visible. The role blends both social and health services to encourage healthy behaviors and emphasize preventative care.

Responsibilities of a Health Worker in the Community

While specific duties can vary based on the organization and work environment, community health workers have a broad range of responsibilities. These often include:

  • Visiting the homes of clients who are unable to attend community events
  • Managing cases
  • Offering training and education in disease management, nutrition, mental health support, and other relevant areas
  • Providing basic first aid and health screening services

A community health worker’s duties may also include identifying the most culturally appropriate services and methods of communicating those services to their community.

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Where Do Community Health Workers Work?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 20 percent of community health workers are employed in social assistance facilities. They may also work in government facilities, ambulatory healthcare services, hospitals, and civic organizations. 

Some duties of a health worker are performed in an office setting, but many professionals spend most of their time interacting with community members, typically in homes, community buildings, or medical facilities.

How to Become a Community Health Worker

Certain entry-level community health worker positions do not require advanced degrees or training. Some states, however, require certification. To become a competitive candidate, and potentially earn a higher community health worker salary, job seekers should consider furthering their education and improving related skills.

Educational Requirements and Continuing Education

The minimum educational requirement to apply for entry-level community health worker positions is a high school diploma. Some positions, however, require a bachelor’s degree in community health or a related degree. Prospective job candidates can also consider earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) or a related degree. A postgraduate education prepares health workers to not only provide community services, but also advance their careers to leadership positions, oversee teams, evaluate programs, and research new solutions for social and healthcare services.

On-the-Job Training

Specific features of on-the-job training vary based on the work environment and state. Even in states where certification isn’t required, experiential training is a common requirement for community health workers. Training covers the broad goals of community health and any community-specific strategies and resources to ensure initiatives are relevant and appropriate. 

Necessary Skills

Working closely with clients throughout a community to assist with access to health and social services requires both interpersonal and technical skills. Here are some skills that help prospective community health workers succeed in this environment.

  • Empathy: Working with clients who need assistance in connecting with critical services requires an ability to empathize with the client’s situation and a deep understanding of their personal situations.
  • Problem solving: Many clients are unable to access or aren’t sure how to access all the services provided by local organizations. As a result, a community health worker must be able to identify clear ways to overcome specific obstacles.
  • Effective listening and communication: Clients need to be heard and know the resources they can access for support. Community health workers should be able to understand their client’s needs and clearly recommend solutions.
  • Patience: The process of delivering health and social services to communities includes many steps that can seem frustrating to clients. Community health workers should exercise patience to ensure clients get what they need.

Community Health Worker Salary Expectations

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual community health worker salary was $46,190 as of May 2022. The top 10 percent of community health workers earned over $73,730 per year, also per BLS data. Salary levels can be impacted by factors such as a candidate’s years of experience, education, and the state in which the job is located.

Career Outlook

Community health workers play an essential part in health care and social support in many communities, and their career outlook reflects this. The BLS projects a 14 percent increase in job openings for community health workers from 2022 to 2032. This is much faster than the average career growth for all U.S. occupations during that same time.

Take the Next Step With Tulane University

​​If you wish to develop key skills, start your career, or advance in community health, you would do well to explore the Online Master of Public Health (MPH) program at Tulane University. This dynamic online program offers in-depth training methodologies taught by experts and is designed to help you command a competitive community health worker salary.

Learn more about this rewarding educational pathway at Tulane University.

Advance Your Public Health Career with an MPH Program

Pursue Your Degree Online From Tulane University
Find Out More

Recommended Readings

Community Health Promotion in Rural Areas

Strategies for Community Health Advocate: Roles and Responsibilities

What Is Healthcare Equity?


American Hospital Association Center for Health Innovation, What Is Community Health?

Indeed, “6 Steps to Becoming a Community Health Worker”

Rural Health Information Hub, Introduction to Community Health Workers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Community Health Workers

WebMD, “What Is a Community Health Worker?”

ZipRecruiter, What Is a Community Health Worker and How to Become One