How to become an environmental health professional (2023)

How to become an environmental health professional (1)

Environmental health is a broad term that encompasses all types of external environmental factors that can affect human health. In its broadest sense, it covers food safety, water protection, air quality, noise issues, pollution, hazardous and toxic substances, waste disposal, and other related topics. In its occupational health context, it addresses exposure to hazardous substances and conditions in the workplace, as well as issues of workplace ergonomics, worker health and disability.

Environmental health workers are often referred to as occupational and environmental health professionals, of which there are several types.

Environmental Health Doctor

Occupational and environmental health practitioners assess the connections between work and health. While some treat patients directly, others organize worker health programs or make disability determinations.

Environmental Health Nurse

Occupational and Environmental Health Nurses (OEHN) specialize in health and safety services for employees. They promote healthy workplaces through programs that aim to protect workers from occupational and environmental hazards, prevent injury and illness, and raise awareness of healthy habits.

Registered Environmental Health Specialist

The end"Registered Environmental Health Specialist" (REHS)often used as a job title for a person who conducts environmental health investigations or inspections for a government health department or private company. For example, REHS can inspect food factories, underground storage tanks, landfills and other facilities to ensure safety and compliance. REHS is also the name of a professional license or certification in this field required by some states.

What does an Environmental Health Professional do?

Registered Environmental Health Specialist

A Registered Environmental Health Specialist (REHS) runs environmental and health programs for government agencies and private companies. Its primary responsibility is to coordinate inspection programs and inspect a wide range of facilities for compliance with environmental, health and safety regulations. For example, they inspect potable water systems, landfills, underground storage tanks, and hazardous material transfer facilities. Those who work for private companies are usually inspectors or consultants for food manufacturing facilities who provide their services on a contract basis.

In an increasingly mechanized and chemistry-centric world, environmental health experts help keep workers healthy and happy. They also help ensure that our mass-produced food supply remains safe for everyone.

Environmental Health Nurse

Occupational and Environmental Health Nurses (OEHN)they share some of physicians' responsibilities, such as helping employers comply with health and safety regulations and uncovering potential hazards. However, they often also take on a case management role, where they coordinate the health services provided to sick and injured employees. They also help the workers they are assigned to through the benefits process.
Nurses often advise employees on health issues. While these counseling services are primarily for work-related illnesses and injuries, OEHNs can provide advice on other issues such as substance abuse, stress and anxiety, and other concerns. They can also provide referrals to assistance programs and follow up with workers. OEHNs also run health awareness programs that encourage healthy habits. These employer-provided programs help maintain a healthy, stable, and happy workforce.

Environmental Health Doctor

Occupational and environmental health doctors are often employed by large companies, where they are responsible for managing the health of employees. Those who perform clinical work diagnose and treat occupational and environmental illnesses and treat work-related injuries. To do this, they must be familiar with workplace operations and the hazards employees may be exposed to. They may also be responsible for ensuring compliance with all workplace safety regulations, such as those issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

As they may also be involved in worker's compensation and disability determinations, they must also be qualified to assess an employee's fitness for work. Some occupational and environmental health physicians also administer health awareness programs and manage health services for employees.

Where does an Environmental Health Professional work?

Environmental health professionals often work for large corporations that offer employee health programs that benefit their sizable workforce. Many also work for state and local health departments, disability benefit agencies, and disability insurers, where they make disability determinations. Some work for federal occupational health agencies such as OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Others work as consultants. Some are employed by the US military, where they manage the (sometimes international) health needs of our troops.

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What is the average salary for an environmental health professional?

Environmental health professionals earned an average salary of $42,000 as of May 2020. The top 10% in this field earned more than $101,890, while the bottom 10% earned about $33,720 during that time period.*

Positions and job description in environmental health

Recent environmental health job listings

Use the search box below to find all environmental health job openings on our job board.

An environmental health officer assesses health risks in many different environments and then reports findings and remediation plans to interested parties. Duties vary from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties someone might encounter as an Environmental Health Officer:

  • Evaluate, design or remediate working conditions so that they are safe, healthy and accident-free environments
  • Provide technical health and safety support for the site, factory or environment.
  • Implement environmental safety instructions and objectives for employees and management.
  • Supervise and implement health and safety training programs.
  • Ensure compliance with international safety regulatory systems such as ISO-18001 and OSHA's Star Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) guidelines through planning, scheduling and data collection
  • Ensure compliance with federal, state, ISO and corporate health and safety regulations and standards by all employees and systems.
  • Plan, design, launch and facilitate programs and training that encourage employees to reinforce a safe environment
  • Create greater security awareness for all stakeholders; help stakeholders engage in safety ideals
  • Promote safe practices throughout the organization
  • Conduct analytical studies of accident data to determine the root cause and implement preventive actions
  • Document problems, incidents, root causes, corrective actions and preventive measures to be implemented; inform stakeholders about findings and solutions
  • Report and document all incidents to appropriate personnel and appropriate government agencies.
  • Participate in assessments of new products, processes and sites to determine appropriate environmental safety procedures.
  • Collect and report Occupational Health and Safety statistics
  • Ensure compliance with all safety procedures and guidelines.
  • Promote security awareness through internal company tools and external publications.
  • Ensure that all interested parties receive and complete all safety training in a timely manner.

Senior environmental health officers generally have a broader experience base and are therefore naturally suited to management tasks. These responsibilities usually include:

  • Create a positive and safe work environment, both within the department and throughout the company.
  • Develop project scopes, timelines, benchmarks and budgets with help from other departments and team leaders.
  • Browse federal protocols, regulations, and best practices on behalf of the project
  • Supervise test and calibration equipment and instruments.
  • Oversee record keeping, compliance, and retention and destruction of confidential records
  • Create business proposals for funding streams.
  • Ensure quality assurance, organization and proper monitoring of field data.
  • Prepare reports for presentation to external stakeholders and for management review.
  • Create action items to design or fix processes to make them more secure
  • Contact site stakeholders
  • Supervise field work (inspection, site recording, testing, monitoring and data integrity) of various field teams
  • Communicate with internal and external stakeholders through field status reports and presentation of team findings.
  • Investigate new technologies and new advances in agriculture.
  • Participate in committees for the development of policies and regulations.
  • Participate in research and development committees for educational programs.

What is the work demand of Environmental Health Professionals?

Job demand for environmental health professionals is projected to increase by about 17% between 2020 and 2030.* Growing concerns about toxic chemicals and possible links to environmental health and disease are likely to spur job growth.

How do I earn an Environmental Health Professional degree?

Registered Environmental Health Specialist

Environmental health specialists usually need a bachelor's degree in life sciences such as biology, microbiology or chemistry. A solid background in calculus, mathematics and statistics is also important. A Registered Sanitary/Environmental Health Specialist (REHS/RS) credential is available from the National Environmental Health Association.

Environmental Health Nurse

Nursing positions usually require an associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing. Practical nursing experience is also helpful in entering this field. A registered nurse must be licensed by the state in which they practice. Certification in occupational and environmental health nursing is often required, or at least advantageous, for jobs in this profession.

Environmental Health Doctor

Environmental health doctors are doctors who have gone through medical school.
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What types of memberships and professional organizations do environmental health professionals have?

  • National Environmental Health Association (NEHA)Administers the industry standard Registered Environmental Health Specialist/Registered Sanitary (REHS/RS) credential, which involves passing an exam. It also holds an annual conference, provides continuing education, and publishes the Journal of Environmental Health.
  • Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE)is an excellent resource for nurses looking to expand their knowledge of environmental health. Offers environmental health articles written by nurses and an online networking hub for nursing researchers. ANHE also hosts online communities on fracking and public health and climate change and public health.

*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 wage figures and job growth projections forspecialists in health education and community health agentsthey reflect national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data consulted in September 2021.


What is the easiest way to describe environmental health? ›

Environmental health is targeted towards preventing disease and creating health-supportive environments. It includes the aspects of human health that are determined by physical, chemical, biological and social factors in the environment. Environmental health also works to assess and control these factors.

What skills do you need for environmental health? ›

Required Skills/Abilities:
  • Extensive knowledge of environmental regulations and policies.
  • Proficiency with technology and equipment used in environmental inspections.
  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.

What are 7 strategies for improving environmental health? ›

7 Strategies to Improve Your Environmental Wellness
  • Replace Chemical Cleaning Products with Natural Alternatives. ...
  • Reduce Allergens and Improve the Air Quality in Your Home. ...
  • Declutter. ...
  • Get More Nature in Your Life. ...
  • Limit Your Screen Time. ...
  • Use Eco-friendly and Recycled Materials in Your Home.
Jan 20, 2022

What are the 7 core concepts of environmental health? ›

Classroom resource: This slideset includes a slide for each of the 7 Core Concepts of Environmental Health: Toxicity, Exposure, Dose/Response, Individual Susceptibility, Risks and Benefits, Environmental Justice, and Community Resources and Action.

What are the 3 most important types of environmental health? ›

Environmental health indicator (2016). It consists of three categories: health impacts, air quality, and water and sanitation.

What are the 5 examples of environmental health? ›

Clean air, stable climate, adequate water, sanitation and hygiene, safe use of chemicals, protection from radiation, healthy and safe workplaces, sound agricultural practices, health-supportive cities and built environments, and a preserved nature are all prerequisites for good health.

What is the important skill for professionals in environmental services? ›

The important skills for professionals in environmental services include environmental science knowledge, occupational health, and health and safety management skills. Professionals in environmental services roles need to have some environmental and safety skills in order to perform their job well.

What skills and qualities one must possess in a work environment? ›

8 job skills you should have
  • Communication.
  • Teamwork.
  • Problem solving.
  • Initiative and enterprise.
  • Planning and organising.
  • Self-management.
  • Learning.
  • Technology.
Jan 9, 2023

What are skills in a professional environment? ›

Professional skills are a combination of both hard skills (job-specific duties that can be trained) and soft skills (transferable traits like work ethic, communication, and leadership). They can be contrasted to personal skills, which are closer to personality traits and more difficult to learn.

What are the six principles of environmental health? ›

We propose six ethical principles to guide environmental health decision-making: principles of sustainability, beneficence, non-maleficence, justice, community, and precautionary substitution.

What are the 4 types of environmental health? ›

To better understand them, we can think of them as falling into four categories: physical, chemical, biological, and cultural.

What are the 5 main components of environment? ›

Lithosphere - Land, rocks or soil Atmosphere - Air Hydrosphere - Water Biosphere - Living component.

What are the four principles of environmental health? ›

Modern clinical medicine and related scientific disciplines have codified four guiding principles: nonmaleficence (often translated as "do no harm"), beneficence, justice, and respect for autonomy [44, 45], all consistent with the environmental health paradigm.

What are the 10 benefits of a healthy environment? ›

Benefits of Living in a Healthy Community
  • Better Physical Health. ...
  • Better Mental Health. ...
  • Stronger Community Support. ...
  • Cleaner Environment. ...
  • More Holistic Educational Opportunities.
Sep 9, 2020

What are at least 3 common environmental issues? ›

The list of issues surrounding our environment go on, but there are three major ones that affect the majority of them overall: global warming and climate change; water pollution and ocean acidification; and loss of biodiversity.

What is the biggest environmental health risk? ›

Air pollution is now considered to be the world's largest environmental health threat, accounting for 7 million deaths around the world every year.

What are the 10 environmental factors? ›

10: Environmental Factors
  • Osmolarity.
  • pH.
  • Temperature.
  • Oxygen Concentration.
  • Pressure.
  • Radiation. Key Words. Essential Questions/Objectives. Exploratory Questions (OPTIONAL)
Jan 3, 2021

What are the challenges of environmental health? ›

Environmental pollutants can cause health problems like respiratory diseases, heart disease, and some types of cancer. People with low incomes are more likely to live in polluted areas and have unsafe drinking water. And children and pregnant women are at higher risk of health problems related to pollution.

What are the responsibilities of environmental professional? ›

Collect and compile environmental data from samples of air, soil, water, food, and other materials for scientific analysis. Analyze samples, surveys, and other information to identify and assess threats to the environment. Develop plans to prevent, control, or fix environmental problems, such as land or water pollution.

What are the goals of an environmental professional? ›

The objectives of an environmental professional are to recognize and attempt to reconcile societal and individual human needs with responsibility for physical, natural, and cultural systems.

What skills do professionals need? ›

15 professionals skills
  • Leadership. Whether you work in a supervisory position, leadership skills can be a valuable asset in your career. ...
  • Teamwork. ...
  • Emotional intelligence. ...
  • Organization. ...
  • Flexibility. ...
  • Communication. ...
  • Self-motivation. ...
  • Problem-solving.
Sep 30, 2022

Why do you think you are qualified for this position? ›

You can talk about skills from the job posting or your transferable skills. And you don't have to limit your qualifications to paid work. Whatever uniquely qualifies you for the position could come from volunteer work or from experiences at school.

What are the top 3 attributes you seek in a work environment? ›

There are three key employer characteristics a job seeker should look for in an employment relationship: reputation, career advancement and work balance. These often show up in employment surveys as being most important for candidates.

What is required to be a professional? ›

The eight core characteristics of professionalism are: Competence, Knowledge, Conscientiousness, Integrity, Respect, Emotional Intelligence, Appropriateness, and Confidence. By finding ways to strengthen each of these attributes, you can become confident to act professionally wherever you find yourself working.

How do you develop professional skills? ›

Develop your skills
  1. Get training. Attend a workshop, take a course, read an article or book, observe someone who excels at the skill. ...
  2. Practice. Consider ways you can deliberately.
  3. Get feedback. Assess your progress, identifying areas where you have improved and areas for continued growth.

What is a positive productive professional working environment? ›

“Positive” work environments can be defined as those workplaces where there is trust, cooperation, safety, risk-taking support, accountability, and equity. There are some abstract concepts when thinking about a positive work environment. You want to strive for shared purpose, values, and trust.

What are the 8 simple ways to help the environment? ›

8 Ways to Keep the Earth Clean
  • Bring a bag. ...
  • Invest in a reusable water bottle. ...
  • Bring your own reusable cup. ...
  • Refuse single-use items. ...
  • Avoid products with microbeads. ...
  • Shop in bulk. ...
  • Make sure your waste goes to the right place. ...
  • Compost.
Apr 18, 2017

What are five ways you can reduce your impact on the environment? ›

Here's how you can help:
  • Tip 1 – Watch your energy consumption. ...
  • Tip 2 – Go vegetarian for a day. ...
  • Tip 3 – Recycle old technology. ...
  • Tip 4 – Conserve resources. ...
  • Tip 5 – Do some gardening. ...
  • Tip 6 – Buy in season and avoid packaging. ...
  • Tip 7 – Travel smart.
Nov 11, 2022

How do you achieve environmental wellness? ›

Environmental Wellness
  1. Being aware of the limits of the earth's natural resources.
  2. Conserving energy (i.e. shutting off unused lights)
  3. Recycling paper, cans, and glass as much as possible.
  4. Enjoying and appreciating time outside in natural settings.
  5. Not polluting the air, water or earth.

What are the three elements of environmental health? ›

Environmental health addresses all the physical, chemical, and biological factors external to a person and related factors impacting behaviors.

Why is environmental health important? ›

Environmental public health urges us to understand the connection between the environment's health and our own. By looking after the health and safety of our environment, we can ensure that our mental well-being and physical health remain intact.

How can we prevent environmental health problems? ›

Recycle (& then recycle properly) Implementing recycling habits into your daily life is one of the most effective ways to help lessen landfill waste, conserve natural resources, save habitats, reduce pollution, cut down on energy consumption, and slow down global warming.

What is environmental health in simple words? ›

Environmental health is the branch of public health that: focuses on the relationships between people and their environment; promotes human health and well-being; and fosters healthy and safe communities. Environmental health is a key part of any comprehensive public health system.

What are the 3 types of environment? ›

The three types of environment are:
  • Internal environment.
  • External macro environment.
  • External micro environment.

What are the 2 main components of our environment? ›

What are the components of the environment? The environment consists of two major components: Biological component. Physical component.

What are the four R factors? ›

Do you know the 4Rs? Reducing, reusing, recycling and recovering remind us of the importance of reducing our waste production on a daily basis and thus avoiding our contribution to the piles of materials found on landfill sites.

What is holistic environmental health? ›

What is Environmental Health? Environmental health is the understanding of how the social, natural, and built environments affect your health and well-being. Connected to each of the other holistic wellness domains, environmental health is like the macro view of our health influences.

What are the seven concepts of environmental health briefly explain? ›

“To understand the field of environmental health, you need to understand seven core concepts: Toxicity, Exposure, Dose/Response, Individual Susceptibility, Risks & Benefits, Environmental Justice, and Community Resources & Action.”

What is a simple way to describe environmental science? ›

"(Environmental science is) an interdisciplinary field that integrates areas of life, physical and earth science to study and address problems facing the environment and to implement science-based solutions."

What is the best way to describe environment? ›

Environment can be defined as a sum total of all the living and non-living elements and their effects that influence human life. While all living or biotic elements are animals, plants, forests, fisheries, and birds, non-living or abiotic elements include water, land, sunlight, rocks, and air.

What is the short description of environmental? ›

The environment refers to the surroundings in which life exists on earth. Components like animals, humans, sunlight, water, trees, and air make up the environment. They are the earth's living and non-living components. Living organisms include trees, humans, and animals.

What are other terms for environmental health? ›

Environmental health (EH) is a branch of public health protection that is concerned with all aspects of the natural and built environment that may affect human health. Other terms that refer to the discipline of environmental health include environmental public health and environmental health and protection.

What are the 5 components of environment? ›

The basic components of the environment are atmosphere or the air, lithosphere or the rocks and soil, hydrosphere or the water, and the living component of the environment or the biosphere.

What are the 5 importance of environmental studies? ›

It helps us to establish a standard for a safe, clean and healthy natural ecosystem. It also deals with important issues like safe and clean drinking water, hygienic living conditions and clean and fresh air, fertility of land, healthy food and development.

What are the 4 types of environment science? ›

Ecological health, bioscience, sustainability, oceanography and marine biology are all different types of environmental science.

What are 3 words that describe environment? ›

Synonyms of environment
  • surroundings.
  • atmosphere.
  • environs.
  • climate.
  • surround.
  • context.
  • terrain.
  • setting.

What three words best describe your work environment? ›

Best Words to Describe Company Culture
  • Fun.
  • Challenging.
  • Friendly.
  • Engaging.
  • Rewarding.
  • Collaborative.
  • Flexible.
  • Supportive.
Mar 13, 2018

What are the 3 elements of environment describe each? ›

are - the lithosphere, the atmosphere and the hydrosphere. The lithosphere is the solid portion of the earth. The gaseous layers that surround the earth is the atmosphere.

What is the meaning and importance of environment? ›

An Environment is everything that is around us, which includes both living and nonliving things such as soil, water, animals and plants, which adapt themselves to their surroundings. It is nature's gift that helps in nourishing life on Earth.

Why is environment important? ›

Our forests, rivers, oceans and soils provide us with the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we irrigate our crops with. We also rely on them for numerous other goods and services we depend on for our health, happiness and prosperity. These natural assets are often called the world's 'natural capital'.

What is the word for taking care of the environment? ›

An environmentalist is a person who is concerned with protecting and preserving the natural environment, for example by preventing pollution.

How do you define environmental health and wellness? ›

Definition of Environmental Wellness

Environmental wellness is having good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being. It promotes interaction with nature and also creating an enjoyable personal environment (both in and out of your workspace).

What is common environmental health problems? ›


Air contaminants. Toxic waste. Radiation. Disease-causing microorganisms and plants.


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