How to become an Environmental Health Officer

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. Environmental health officers may specialise in the areas of air, food and water quality; disease vector control (mosquito control, for example); waste management; environmental protection; health education; and noise control.

Personal requirements for an 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 an 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. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.


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.

Duties & Tasks of an Environmental Health Officer

Environmental health officers:

  • 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.

Tasks

  • Advises on and enforces relevant legislation..
  • Co-ordinates the return of injured workers into the workplace..
  • Develops, implements and reviews environmental health management plans and occupational health and safety plans..
  • Trains employees in personal protective equipment and safe working procedures..
  • Identifies hazards, assesses and controls risks in the workplace..
  • Develops, implements and monitors programs minimising workplace and environmental pollution involving chemical and physical hazards..
  • Promotes ergonomic principles within the workplace such as matching furniture, equipment and work activities to the needs of employees..
  • Records and investigates injuries and equipment damage, as well as reporting on safety performance..
  • Works to minimise air, sea, water and noise pollution to improve health outcomes..
  • Inspects and audits workplaces, processes, plant, chemical and physical hazards for legislative compliance..
  • Prepares and implements plans and strategies for the safe, economic and suitable disposal of commercial, industrial, medical and household wastes..
  • Implements prevention programs and strategies for communicable diseases, food safety, waste water treatment and disposal systems, recreation and domestic water quality and any contaminated or hazardous substances..

Working conditions for an Environmental Health Officer

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


Employment Opportunities for an 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.


Specializations

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. Environmental health officers may specialise in the areas of air, food and water quality; disease vector control (mosquito control, for example); waste management; environmental protection; health education; and noise control.

  • Average age
    Average age
    42 years
  • Future Growth
    Future Growth
    Strong
  • Gender Share
    Gender Share
    54% female
  • Average full-time
    Average full-time
    41 hours
  • Weekly Pay
    Weekly Pay
    $1,914
  • Skill level rating
    Skill level rating
    Very high skill
  • Unemployment
    Unemployment
    Average unemployment
  • Full-Time Share
    Full-Time Share
    76% Full-Time
  • Employment Size
    Employment Size
    3,600 workers
  • Employment Size
    Employment by state
    ACT: 2.2%
    NSW: 27.7%
    NT: 1.0%
    QLD: 23.2%
    SA: 8.1%
    TAS: 2.8%
    VIC: 23.3%
    WA: 11.7%
  • Employment Size
    Age brackets
    15-19: 0.5%
    20-24: 4.6%
    25-34: 23.4%
    35-44: 27.5%
    45-54: 24.3%
    55-59: 9.9%
    60-64: 6.7%
    65 and Over: 3.2%
  • Employment Size
    Education level
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma: 15.1%
    Bachelor degree: 44.8%
    Certificate III/IV: 9.9%
    Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 19%
    Year 10 and below: 4.1%
    Year 11: 1%
    Year 12: 6%
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