Employment opportunities for community health workers (CHWs) are better than ever. More organizations are looking for ways to include CHWs and provide more CHW core competency training for internal staff.
This has never been so true as now, while the world is fighting to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to give some relief to overtaxed health care systems. CHWs have an especially important role to play. The US Department of Homeland Security specifically called out CHWs as:
“Essential critical infrastructure workers who are imperative during the response to the COVID-19 emergency for both public health and safety as well as community well-being.”
This is a great opportunity for anyone looking to put themselves on a CHW career path while improving health outcomes for their community.
Careful planning of a CHW career path can allow anyone who starts with an entry-level job to expand it into a rewarding career. As need for this role keeps growing, CHWs can not only increase the health knowledge of their community members but also increase their own reach to more people and other job opportunities.
CHW Job Outlook
The statistics are inspiring. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for CHWs are expected to rise 18.1% by 2026. That means that 10,400 jobs could open up. Also, salaries for already employed CHWs are increasing. Wages are good, about $19 per hour, or $39,540 every year.
Gaining the skills to become a CHW can open the door to a money-making and secure career.
Building a CHW career path–rather than just finding an entry-level job—involves understanding the core competencies and what kinds of skills are useful for growth into the future.
In order to earn a profitable job and build a lasting career, current CHWs and people who would like to be one need to keep their health and professional skills sharp. They need to take extra training and prove their knowledge and expertise through certification.
CHWTraining’s Core Competencies Training offers complete, up-to-date training for employers who want to provide staff with foundational skills and knowledge of specific health topics, such as diabetes or breast cancer.
We created the quick guide below as a tool for employers who want to build sustainable training programs and CHWs who want to understand the job qualifications.
CHW Core Competencies
CHWs are employed in every state of the US (except South Dakota, for which no data is available), according to the BLS. Each state has independent job requirements, which vary from college degrees that take multiple years to complete to on-the-job training. Some states require certification, and some employers require certificates of completion to show successful training.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
However, many core competencies training requirements are similar. The following are common skills required by many programs and advisory committees. Here are some CHW core competency training areas common among the Washington State Department of Health’s CHW program, the Roles and Competencies from the Community Health Worker Core Consensus (C3) Project, the US Department of Labor Employment & Training Administration, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. You can compare more national requirements at State Community Health Worker Models from the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) or from this guide.
12 Most Important Skills To Build a CHW Career Path
|CHW Core Competency||Example Skills|
|Advocacy Skills/Capacity Building Skills||
|Care Coordination or Service Coordination and System Navigation||
|Cultural Humility/Cultural Responsiveness||
|Education and Facilitation Skills||
|Evaluation and Research||
|Experience and Knowledge Base||
|Individual and Community Assessment and Direct Services||
|Interpersonal and Relationship-Building Skills||
|Outreach Skills, Methods and Strategies||
|Professional Skills and Conduct||
Originally published Oct 31, 2019, updated October 02, 2020.