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What Can You Do with a Health and Wellness Degree? 

Three women in medical scrubs sit at a conference table

When you want to make a career out of helping others, a health and wellness degree can help you get there. This kind of degree provides you with education and training for a career that involves health care, nutrition, fitness, or other aspects of wellness. What kinds of health and wellness careers are available for those who earn this degree? Learning more about health and wellness degrees, including common courses and career options, can help you decide if this is the right degree program for you.

What Is a Health and Wellness Degree?

A health and wellness degree offers an education on various aspects of health, such as disease prevention, fitness, nutrition, and mental health. Participating in this type of degree program means you’ll gain knowledge in the physical, biological, and social sciences and learn skills needed for a health-related career.

Types of Health and Wellness Degrees

Different levels and types of health and wellness degrees are available. You can earn an undergraduate degree in health and wellness with a Bachelor of Arts or Sciences degree. For a more advanced degree, the master's and professional degrees in health and wellness are available. Bachelor’s degrees allow you to find entry-level jobs such as corporate wellness or community health worker, but you might need to earn a master’s degree or doctorate for more advanced job opportunities like becoming a doctor or occupational therapist. Health and wellness degrees are also available online and in person.

Common Health and Wellness Courses

The courses that are part of your health and wellness program might differ depending on what you choose to focus on. However, there are many courses that are a common part of these degree programs: anatomy, physiology, nutrition, statistics, public health, and pathology. Other courses you’re likely to take include ethics, communication, and integrative health. The career path you follow is often influenced by the track you follow within your health and wellness major.

Health and Wellness Careers

Having a health and wellness degree provides you with a wide range of career options to consider. Whether you want to focus on pre-professional, fitness and nutrition, help local communities, or offer health and wellness services for corporations, there are many career paths to consider. When exploring health and wellness degree jobs, keep in mind that you should check with state license requirements to better understand the scope of practice for different health-related careers. State licensing for these careers can vary from state to state.

1. Pre-Professional: Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Nursing, Chiropractic, Physician Assistant, Occupational Therapy, Psychology, Marriage and Family Therapy

After earning a health and wellness degree, you can work toward becoming a doctor, nurse, dentist, or many other health care professionals. Pre-professional job paths involve earning an advanced degree, such as a Master of Science or doctoral degree, in order to practice medicine, provide therapy, or offer other health care services. Depending on the path you choose, you might work in a hospital, dental office, mental health practice, chiropractic practice, or other health care facility.

Salaries can vary widely for pre-professional career paths with a health and wellness degree. When you earn your advanced degrees and obtain the proper licensing, you might earn a median salary of $208,000 per year as a physician or $75,330 per year as a registered nurse. Job outlooks for these types of careers can also vary widely based on demand. For example, nurses have a job outlook of 9 percent, which is slightly more than the average outlook for all occupations, while physicians and surgeons job growth rate is more steady at 3 percent.

2. Health Coaching

Health coaching involves motivating people to improve their health and well-being and guiding them on ways to achieve this. Health coaches might help clients change their diet, adopt an exercise routine, and make other changes to their lifestyle in order to become healthier. For some individuals, health coaches help them adopt lifestyle changes as part of managing chronic conditions or other health issues. Health coaches can work in hospitals, corporations, private practices, schools, and other facilities.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides salary and job outlook information for health coaches as part of the Health Education Specialists and Community Health Workers category. The BLS shows that health coaches have an average salary of $48,140 per year and a job outlook of 17 percent growth, significantly higher than the 8 percent average outlook for all occupations.

3. Health Education

Health education provides a way to share health-related knowledge with others in order to promote wellness. Health education specialists typically evaluate health needs for communities or individuals and come up with programs and materials to help people learn about specific health-related topics. These educators also assist people with finding health services or health information and advocate for better policies that promote health and wellness. Some work for health care facilities, such as hospitals or doctor’s offices, while others work for nonprofit organizations or public health departments.

The BLS states that the average pay for health education specialists is $56,500 a year. Salaries can range from $33,720 to over $101,890 annually, depending on the type or organization, its location, and your experience. Health education specialists can expect to have steady job opportunities to choose from over the next several years. The job outlook for these educators is projected to be up 17 percent through 2030.

4. Corporate Wellness

Corporate wellness coaches, specialists, and directors focus on helping employees improve their health and well-being as part of an effort to boost employee morale or corporate culture. These coaches might work on site at corporations or provide services to employees in another location. They use different techniques to help employees improve their physical and emotional well-being. Examples of this include managing stress through meditation, taking steps to prevent illness, starting an exercise routine, or improving eating habits.

Salary and job outlook information for corporate wellness professionals is often included with information on health education. BLS shows that the median salary for this type of work is $48,140 per year, and the job outlook through 2030 is projected to increase 17 percent.

5. Nutrition

With a health and wellness degree, you can build a career as a nutritionist. These nutrition experts come up with dietary plans for clients, educate clients on healthy eating, and promote healthy lifestyle choices through nutrition. They also evaluate the nutritional needs of clients and keep track of their progress on nutrition plans. Nutritionists can work in a wide range of facilities, including hospitals, nursing care facilities, outpatient care centers, and government agencies.

According to the BLS, nutritionists earn a median salary of $63,090 per year. Overall, nutritionist salaries can range from $39,840 to over $90,000. The job outlook for nutritionists is projected to be up 11 percent through 2030, which is slightly higher than the average outlook of 8 percent for all occupations.

6. Community Health

Community health workers serve as advocates for local communities when it comes to improving access to health and wellness resources. These workers talk to community members to help identify local health and wellness needs, then meet with providers and organizations about these issues. Those who work in community health might also provide education to local communities on health and wellness topics, such as the importance of routine wellness visits. Some also conduct outreach programs and offer limited health services, such as providing first aid.

Community health workers have a median pay of $42,000 annually, according to the BLS. Salaries can range from $28,010 to over $70,790 based on factors like the type of organization they work for, such as a civic organization, outpatient care center, or hospital. The job outlook for community health workers is projected to reach 17 percent through 2030.

7. Health Services Manager

Health services managers are responsible for planning and coordinating health services for a facility or department, such as a hospital or private medical practice. These managers identify ways to improve the delivery of health care services to patients and come up with objectives for their facility or department. Health services managers also recruit and supervise staff, manage financing, prepare budgets, maintain patient records, and ensure compliance with regulations and laws. Some also attend investor meetings as a facility representative.

The average salary for health services managers is $104,280 per year, according to the BLS. This can range from $59,980 to more than $195,630 depending on experience and the type of facility they manage. With a job outlook projected to be up 32 percent through 2030, those wanting to become health services managers should be able to find plenty of opportunities.

Earning a health and wellness degree can get you started on the path toward a fulfilling career that focuses on helping others. If you’re exploring your options for a health and wellness career, contact the University of Minnesota College of Continuing and Professional Studies (UMN CCAPS) for more information on our Health and Wellbeing Sciences Degree. Our bachelor’s degree program offers the education needed for building a career in health and wellness, including focus areas based on your career interests.