Science, Technology & Environment

Environmental Health Officer

Environmental health officers make sure that people's living and working surroundings are safe, healthy and hygienic.

  • Entry-level education

    Bachelor’s degree

  • Job outlook

    1 2 3 4 5

What does an Environmental Health Officer do?

Environmental health officers assess risk and develop, regulate, enforce and monitor laws and regulations governing public health, in order to promote good human health and environmental practices. They make sure that people's living and working surroundings are safe, healthy and hygienic.

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Work activities

As an environmental health officer or practitioner, you could deal with a wide range of issues including:

  • food safety
  • environmental protection
  • pollution control
  • noise control
  • health and safety at work
  • waste management
  • housing standards.

You might specialise in one of these areas, or you might deal with all environmental health issues in your local area or company. Your work could involve:

  • inspecting businesses for health and safety, food hygiene and food standards
  • following up complaints and investigating outbreaks of food poisoning, infectious disease or pests
  • collecting samples for laboratory testing
  • enforcing environmental health laws
  • investigating accidents at work
  • advising community groups and giving educational talks
  • keeping records and writing reports
  • advising employers on all environmental health matters.

You would work closely with practitioners from other government agencies, specialists in a variety of fields, the public and a wide range of businesses.

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Key skills and interests

To become an environmental health officer, you would need:

  • a good level of scientific and technical understanding
  • good spoken and written communication skills
  • negotiation skills
  • care and attention to detail
  • the ability to understand and explain legislation, procedures and requirements
  • good people skills.
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Working hours and conditions

Working Hours

You would work a standard number of hours, Monday to Friday. You may occasionally be required to undertake evening or weekend work. Part-time work and job sharing may be available.

Conditions

You would have an office base, but would spend much of your time out in the workplace or visiting businesses and homes.

Environmental health officers work primarily for government organisations, although private sector opportunities are increasing.

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How to become an Environmental Health Officer?

Entry Level Education

To become an environmental health officer you usually have to study environmental health, environmental science, public health or environmental management at university. You could study these subjects in a science, health science, social science or natural science degree. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent. English, mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics would be appropriate subjects to study prior to university.

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.

www.eh.org.au

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Job outlook

  • 1 2 3 4 5

Overall employment of environmental health officers is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations.

Opportunities should exist in local government and councils, the Australian Defence Force, state and territory health and environment departments and area health services, major food corporations and international airlines, as well as a growing number of roles elsewhere in the private sector.

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