Dear Dr. Emily,
I love what you do and feel so inspired by your work. I’m wondering if you have any advice for someone who wants to become a sex educator, like yourself? I really want a career in sex education but have no idea where to start!
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Congrats on taking the first step in your sex education career! Many of us, myself included, totally missed out on a comprehensive sex-ed program when we were younger. When I started Sex With Emily, there were close to zero resources available for someone like me—a twenty-something who had mediocre sex and faked orgasms—to learn about pleasure.
But times have changed. Over the past few years, we’ve seen a rise in sex educators and sexual wellness brands in the industry as more people work to create a sex-positive future. And while the field is more saturated now than when I first started, there is always room for new voices.
The first thing I’ll say is that there is no rule book. Like anything in life, it’s important that you trust your gut and stay true to yourself—which leads me to my first tip.
Think about your why.
Before you start any professional endeavor, it’s important to get clear on your intention. Becoming a sex educator or working in the sexual wellness industry can be really hard. When I first started Sex With Emily, I was working all sorts of odd jobs, sleeping on friends’ couches, and maxing out my credit cards trying to get my company off the ground. It was hard, but I was able to get through the tough stuff because I cared so much about my mission: to learn how to have good sex and share what I learned with others.
Do a bit of soul-searching: Why do you want to be a sex educator? What are your strengths? Do you want to build a community, either digitally or IRL? Do you want to help people 1:1, like a sex therapist? Do you want to write about sex or lead events? Maybe a combination of all of these things?
Regardless of how you choose to pursue a career in sex education, you’ve got to know what you’re talking about. Yes, this includes the basics—but you’ve also got to keep educating yourself. Our understanding of sexuality is constantly changing, so there are always new things to learn.
Build up your library with sex books (here are some of my go-tos). If your goal requires that you go back to school, do some digging and see what excites you. The California Institute of Integral Studies, the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, McMicken College, Ohio State University, San Francisco State University, University of Iowa, University of Minnesota, Washington University, and Widener University all have programs to get either a Masters or a Doctorate in Human Sexuality or Sexual Studies.
Follow sex-positive people.
Not all of your education needs to come from a book. With the rise of social media over the last couple of decades, we’re seeing more resources available online. Instagram is a great way to expose yourself to new sex educators and sex-positive influencers.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to try to connect with someone, but also be understanding if that person doesn’t respond right away. (I can speak from experience that a career in sex education can be really time-consuming!) Later down the line, you might even find a mentor or someone who can help provide advice for building your sex-ed platform.
Some of my go-to accounts include Planned Parenthood, Everyone Deserves Sex Ed, and Latham Thomas, though there are so many more. Try following the hashtags #sexeducator, #sexeducation, #sexualeducation, #sexualhealth, and #sexpositive for even more accounts.
Start something you can call your own.
Whether it’s a newsletter, a weekly virtual meetup with other sex educators, a podcast, or a TikTok channel, I encourage you to start your own thing for a few reasons.
One, it holds you accountable. Regardless of what it is, having a project is a great way for you to stay dedicated and committed to your passion. Second, having a tangible project gives you a sense of legitimacy and can help you build a platform. Finally, no matter what happens along your journey, you have something to call your own. And that’s a pretty great feeling.
If you’re considering a career in sex education, get clear on your vision and then do it! Helping people prioritize pleasure is one of the most rewarding things you can do—trust me.