How to become a Environmental Health Officer

Environmental health officers assess risk and develop, regulate, enforce and monitor laws and regulations governing public health for both the built and natural environment, in order to promote good human health and environmental practices.

Personal requirements of a Environmental Health Officer

  • Good communication skills
  • Good negotiation skills
  • Tactful and courteous
  • Able to be firm and impartial when making decisions
  • Resourceful
  • Able to take initiative
  • Good problem-solving skills
  • Able to work independently or as a part of a team

Education & Training for a Environmental Health Officer

To become an environmental health officer you usually have to study environmental health, environmental science, public health or environmental management at university. These areas of study may be undertaken within a science, health science, social science or natural science degree. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics are normally required. A number of universities in Australia offer degrees in these areas. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. For full details, refer to the entries on the website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au or university handbooks.

Duties & Tasks of a Environmental Health Officer

Environmental health officers may perform the following tasks:

  • investigate complaints about food safety and ensure shops, restaurants and food processors follow health regulations
  • monitor and control water, air and noise pollution and collect water samples for analysis
  • initiate and conduct environmental health impact or risk assessments
  • design and conduct health education programs or public information campaigns
  • prepare policy documents and guidelines relating to environmental health matters
  • manage immunisation campaigns
  • manage programs to control disease-causing pests such as mosquitoes
  • investigate and manage public health incidents such as disease outbreaks
  • manage programs to control public health and environmental issues associated with major public events
  • respond to disasters and emergency situations where public health is at risk
  • assess building development applications and inspect houses and public buildings to ensure they comply with environmental or health and safety standards
  • inspect and license premises that may present infectious disease risks to the community (such as tattoo parlours and acupuncturists, where skin penetration and body piercing occurs), and inspect hairdressing and beauty salons
  • maintain records, prepare statistics, write reports and give evidence in court cases where health or environmental regulations have been violated.

Working conditions for a Environmental Health Officer

They are also involved in consultation, evaluation, managerial and health promotion activities.

Employment Opportunities for a Environmental Health Officer

The main employers are local government and councils. Environmental health officers are also employed by the Australian Defence Force, state and territory health and environment departments and area health services, as well as major food corporations, international airlines and overseas aid organisations. There are growing opportunities elsewhere in the private sector.

Additional Information
Graduates can become members of Environmental Health Australia, a national professional association for environmental health officers and other professionals working in environmental health. Student membership is available to those studying an accredited environmental health degree.
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