So You Want to Be a Sex Educator


(image via guyism.com)

I often lie about my job when I meet strangers; teacher, Master’s in Public Health, and health educator are my preferred fibs. Personal shame is not my motivation. I just know how jumpy people get when they hear The S-Word.

Despite attempts to mask my line of work, I love what I do. Interested in being a sex educator? Here’s a handy guide.

Education and Training

The first step to becoming an educator is to become educated yourself. It’s important to remember that sexuality studies is a field not a discipline. The knowledge is specialized and a good education involves understanding sexuality through the lens of different disciplines.

You don’t need to get a doctorate and become Dr. Sex Advice to be an educator though. There are lots of options.

University Route

Cost: Pricey. Be prepared to spend several thousand dollars on tuition alone. Depending on where you attend (private, out-of-state, international) the cost can skyrocket into the 5 or 6 figure range.

What You Get: A well developed mind, prestige, connections. Not all programs focus on the same aspects of sexuality, so if you want to learn more about biology be sure that your program gives you ample training in that area.

How To Get There: Apply to a University! The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS, commonly referred to as Quad-S) has a good university resource list.

Certification Route

Cost: Low ($100-$150), but doesn’t include courses/experience needed to qualify for certification.

What You Get: Clout, inclusion in a directory.The two big ones to know about are AASECT (American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors Therapists) and CHES (Certified Health Education Specialist).

How to Get There: Education and Experience. This is something that can be tricky if you want to bypass obtaining a formal degree because of time or money. One option would be to take classes from a local community college that fulfill requirements. If you are in the process of obtaining a graduate or undergraduate degree, meet with an advisor and work with them to construct courseloads that fulfill certification requirements.

**Locally, there is San Francisco Sex Information, an excellent volunteer run non profit organization that trains sexuality educators and provides free, non-judgmental sex information to the public. If you live in the Bay Area I strongly encourage you to go through SFSI training.

Experience

This is the big catch-22: you want to become a sex educator but in order to do that you need experience as a sex educator. How do you get around that? Volunteer. Try searching for local HIV counseling centers, STI clinics, rape crisis hotlines, or LGBTQ centers.

Any place related to sexuality is a fine place to start. Once there start talking to people paid by the organization. Find mentors, ask questions and get as much experience as you can.

Work

There are many incarnations of sex educators because there are many ways to disseminate sex information. Writers, bloggers, professors, contract workers, program managers, public speakers, and even filmmakers. You can pave your own path or join up with a trail blazer you admire.

Research organizations in your area that address sexuality. Possibilities include: non-profits working with youth, HIV-prevention programs, sex toy retailers dedicated to sex-positivity and education, women’s health organizations, and universities addressing sexuality topics. Then apply your little heart out.

9 thoughts on “So You Want to Be a Sex Educator”

  1. I would also include that if you are already in college, you can become a peer educator. Many colleges already have established programs that will give you ample experience for when you enter the workforce. Worked for me! I’ve been working as one for over 15 years!

  2. this is a great & succinct article! for so long, i had wondered how to tell people (family, friends, etc.) what i have chosen as my life work. i’ve been approached on how to get to where i am now, and it’s been an odd journey for me.

    i proudly call myself a sexologist, and love the term sexademic!

    can’t wait to read more from you.
    continued good works,

    M

  3. Thank you SO much for these resources. Over the course of getting my BA in Psychology, I found sexuality fascinating. I’m passionate about sexual health and encouraging people to be open about sex. I would lovelovelove to teach sex education, but going back to school is daunting (plus, I don’t seem to have the proper qualifications to get into a Master’s program). I’ll be checking out the things you’ve suggested and see what I can do.

  4. wow. this is great information.
    i am currently in college (without a set degree yet)
    and have found sexuality to be very interesting..
    thanks so much. maybe this should be my calling??

  5. this isnt exactly helpful for me. im not quiet sure wat is said to an extent.
    i’m thinking of teaching sex education once i graduate from high school.
    1. what are the requirements?
    2. is there anything special needed?
    3. what courses would i have to take?
    4. Is only avalible at the university level?
    if you could email me id be most pleased. i want to get all possible information on all avenues of which i have narrowed my self. ive been told often that i’d make a good sex ed teacher seeing as im most comfortable talking about sex. im the go to person wen its a sex question. i love sex in all levels. it has always caught my fancy. so please email
    -Amanda

  6. This did not help me to much. I will be graduating from high school soon and I would like to know some specific information like:
    Requirements
    Special Needs
    What Courses I Should Take
    Can I Only Become a Sex Educator Through The University Level
    Please email me back
    Thank You.

  7. I am so excited to see this blog. I have been wanting to learn how to become a sex educator. I am currently in college getting my BS in Business Management, but I have always wanted to be sex educator. Lets get people to open up their minds to conversation about sexuality and we can help others get passed fears. I not sure how to get the education I need but I am going to look into it more.

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