Word in Chinese are not entirely synonymous with single Chinese characters.
Characters versus radicals ∞
(Radicals are described in Chinese characters)
Radicals are strokes which are re-used in multiple words. Entire characters which could have meaning on their own could themselves be integrated into another character.
Just like radicals, entire characters of any complexity could be paired alongside other characters to then form words.
Of course words are then strung together, separated by spaces, to form useful sentences.
Characters versus words ∞
The Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi gives lists of characters needed to be learned for each level's written test.
However, single "characters" are not necessarily "words".
Single characters may be good enough on their own, but they are often grouped to convey more complex meaning. A "word" may be composed of one, two or four characters.
Looking an English word up in a dictionary will often give an example which uses multiple Chinese characters.
Sometimes a single character doesn't really have a meaning on its own and has to be grouped with one of an assortment of appropriate characters in order to convey it's meaning.