If you wish to work in a health related field and if it is your passion to improve the living standards of people around you, you may consider becoming an environmental health officer.
Environmental health officers may also be known as environmental health practitioners (EHPs). They are the people who ensure that the living conditions of people and their work surroundings are safe, healthy and hygienic.
As an environmental health officer or practitioner (EHO or EHP), you are expected to deal with a variety of issues which include:
- Food safety
- Environmental protection
- Pollution control
- Noise control
- Health and safety at work
- Waste management
- Housing standards
The tasks that you may have to perform include:
- Inspecting businesses for health and safety, food hygiene and food standards
- Enforcement of environmental health laws
- Following up complaints
- Investigating accidents and outbreaks of food poisoning, infectious disease or pests
- Collecting samples for laboratory testing
- Giving educational talks
- Maintaining records and writing reports
- Advising community groups and employers on all environmental health matters
- Liaising with EHOs from other areas as well as with government agencies, specialists in a variety of fields, the public and a wide range of businesses
Working Hours and Conditions
Your working hours are usually standard office hours during week days i.e. 9am - 5pm. There may be opportunities for part-time work and job sharing.
You are normally based in an office but spend most of your time in the workplace or visiting businesses and homes.
Environmental health technicians
£17,500 to £22,000 a year
Fully qualified EHOs
£25,000 to £35,000 a year
Up to £45,000 a year
To become an environmental health officer/practitioner you must possess an environmental health degree or postgraduate degree approved by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH).
- To be eligible for an environmental degree you need five GCSEs (A-C) and two A levels.
- To be eligible for a postgraduate degree you need a first degree in a related field or a scientific subject.
You may refer to CIEH - environmental health careers for details of approved degrees, postgraduate courses and course providers.
When seeking employment, you may also need to complete a period of work-based training and pass a series of professional exams.
You may also start working as an environmental health technician and move your way up the career graph. For this, you usually need a minimum of four GCSEs. Your employer offers you the opportunity to study for an environmental health foundation degree or degree whilst you are working.
To be fully qualified as an environmental health officer, you need to:
- complete a period of work-based learning
- keep a training logbook during your work-based learning, known as a Portfolio of Professional Practice (PPP) or Experiential Learning Portfolio (ELP)
- pass the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health Professional Examination
After successfully completing all the above mentioned stages you are awarded the Certificate of Registration from Environmental Health Registration Board.
For further professional growth, you may enroll for various short courses and workshops offered by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH).
Skills and Interests Needed
To become an environmental health officer, it is vital that you demonstrate the following:
- Impeccable communication skills
- Be able to pay attention to details
- Team working skills
- Ability to work without supervision
- Scientific and technical know-how
- Negotiation skills
- Ability to understand and explain legislation, procedures and requirements
- Excellent inter-personal skills
- Inquisitiveness and analytical skills
- Problem solving skills
- Assertiveness and tactfulness
You may find employment with both local council and in the private sector. There are various jobs such as checking food standards and health and safety for companies.
If you are employed with a local government, you are defined a growth structure. You may be promoted to the role of a senior, principal and chief environmental health officer.
If you are working in a private sector you may get an opportunity to become an environmental health consultant or you may work freelance to advice businesses on environmental health law.
Lastly, if you know you can lead a highly regulated and disciplined life, this profession could be your best career decision.