Community Health Worker

Community Health Workers serve as a bridge between the community and the health care, government and social service systems.



Community Health Workers (CHWs) are frontline public health workers who are trusted members of and/or have an unusually close understanding of the community they serve. This trusting relationship enables CHWs to serve as a liaison/link/intermediary between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery. CHWs also build individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy.

CHWs work in all geographic settings, including rural, urban and metropolitan areas, border regions (colonias), and the Native American nations. Although CHW roles vary depending on locale and cultural setting, they are most often found working in underprivileged marginalized communities where people may have limited resources, lack access to quality health care, lack the means to pay for health care, do not speak English fluently, or have cultural beliefs, values and behaviors different from those of the dominant western health care system. In these communities, CHWs play an integral role in helping systems become more culturally appropriate and relevant to the people they are to serve.


Educational Requirements

Community Health Worker (CHW) training and educational requirements vary across states, cities, employers and employment sectors. The CHW field lacks unified training standards, so trainings tend to be generally local and sometimes employer driven.

A few states have regulated CHW training through various methods including by developing a standardized curriculum, yet there are very limited examples that follow the recommendations in published "promising practices." Until a CHW core role is agreed upon the development of a nationally recognized curriculum framework will continue to vary.

Recently, however, states are starting to develop training and credentialing criteria more informed by CHW leadership and by documented "promising practices." The setting of CHW training programs also varies widely. Some states have developed college-based training while others have implemented community-based training resources.

A College of Science degree, community and hospital experience could well equip students for this career path. Learn more here.


Salary Range



Want to know more?

CHW Network

Community Health Workers' National Education Collaborative (CHW-NEC)

Center for Sustainable Health Outreach

National Association of Community Health Representatives (Native American)


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CHW Network

Massachusetts Association of Community Health Workers

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