Health Communication Specialist Salary and Job Responsibilities

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Health care communication specialist at work

In the modern world, fake medical news can be disseminated with the touch of a button. Misleading articles about health care treatments, for example, including a widespread campaign that purported measles vaccines cause autism, are among the many false medical posts shared across social media. Health misinformation campaigns have become so widespread that in March 2019, Facebook announced it would take steps to combat this growing phenomenon.

Consequently, the need for qualified communication specialists who can help counteract and correct fake medical news is more important than ever. Individuals who are thinking about pursuing an advanced communication career in the health care industry should consider developing the skills to shape the health care conversation.

Completing an advanced education, such as an online Master of Arts in Health Communication, can help prepare graduates to develop the written, verbal and visual tools they’ll need to be successful.

What Is a Health Communication Specialist?

Heath communication specialists develop communication strategies that accomplish two key goals: combating health misinformation and informing the public about actions to improve their health. For example, they develop and disseminate health communication materials such as articles, blogs and social media posts to health prevention partners, such as community clinics, doctors’ offices and hospitals. These communication materials cover a wide array of topics, including information relating to disease prevention, medical treatments, healthy living and beyond.

Other duties and responsibilities of the position include developing content for social media campaigns, attending internal and external meetings and partnering with organizations, such as digital marketing agencies, to develop cost-efficient message delivery strategies.

Health communication specialists understand that effective message delivery can inspire individuals to seek proactive health and preventive care that can be beneficial in several ways. For example, data suggests that patients who take an active role in managing their health tend to be healthier, have lower health care costs and experience better medical outcomes.

What Is a Health Communication Specialist Salary

Recent data from the website PayScale reveals the average annual salary for a health communication specialist is $63,335. Top earners in the top 10th percentile are able to earn over $84,000 per year.

As with other fields, salaries and earnings are often based on a candidate’s education level, years of experience and job location. For example, PayScale reports that as of November 2019, the average annual salary for health communication specialists who have a bachelor’s degree was $61,000, while the average annual salary for master’s degree holders was $74,000.

Professionals who live in areas of the country that have a higher cost of living, such as New York and San Francisco, may also attain higher annual earnings. This is especially true when compared to similar professionals who live in parts of the country that have a lower cost of living, such as Buffalo, N.Y. and Kansas City, Mo.

Skills Needed for Effective Communication

Aspiring health care communication specialists must develop several core competencies to excel in this role. Examples include advanced written and communication skills, analytical and critical thinking skills and a deep understanding of health care laws and policies.

Advanced Written and Communication Skills: Health information is often complex. Communication specialists must understand how to relay it effectively across populations, including those who may lack education or have poor health literacy. The Master of Arts in Health Communication (MAHC) curriculum at Rider University includes courses in Medical Concepts and Health Writing as well as Health Communication Campaigns that are designed to help students augment their written and verbal communication acumen.

Analytical Skills: Communication specialists who aspire to fill managerial or senior staff roles must gather and verify information, analyze collected data and report results. Coursework in Information Gathering and Analysis at Rider University covers these topics. Upon completion, students will understand how to use various research methods and analysis techniques to help drive business decisions.

Critical Thinking Skills: When a community experiences a natural disaster or disease outbreak, the messaging an organization communicates can have a long-lasting impact on its reputation. Enhanced critical thinking skills not only help communication specialists see a problem from all angles, but also help them forge an effective outbound communication strategy. The Communication Crises in Health class in Rider University’s MAHC program has been designed to help students expand their critical thinking capabilities.

Understanding of Health Care Laws and Policies:  Health communication specialists not only need to understand ethical guidelines plus current laws and regulations that are relative to workplace communication, they must also understand how legal limits can impact professional communication. The Legal and Ethical Issues for Professional Communicators class in Rider’s MAHC program provides students with in-depth coverage of these topics.

Explore Rider University’s Master of Arts in Health Communication Program

Professionals who are interested in taking their health communication career to the next level are likely to find that completing an advanced education, such as an online Master of Arts in Health Communication, can help them toward their goal. In addition to preparing students with the skills and knowledge to become leaders in their field, graduates often find they’re well equipped to effectively counteract fake medical news and misinformation.

Discover how Rider University’s online Master of Arts in Health Communication program can provide you with the skills, acumen and competencies to apply for the career you want.

Recommended Reading

Improving Health Care for the Homeless Starts with Communication

What Is Health Communication? Its Importance in Health Care and Other Industries

Charting the Paths to Six Successful Health Communication Careers


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Communication and Marketing Toolkit

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Communication Strategies

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, What is Health Communication?

MJH Life Sciences, “How a Proactive Approach to Care Management will Improve Member Health and Reduce Costs”

NCBI, A Proactive General Practice: Integrating Public Health Into Primary Care

The New York Times, “Facebook Announces Plan to Curb Vaccine Misinformation”

PayScale, Average Health Communications Specialist Salary

Rider University, Online Master of Arts in Health Communication