- Help make sure food and public health safety standards are protected
- A mix of office and field work monitoring standards in organisations like restaurants and shops
- You'll need to be organised, firm and confident, with good observational and report writing skills
As an environmental health officer you could work for a local authority, the NHS or armed services, or a central government organisation like the Food Standards Agency. You could also work as an environmental health consultant in the private sector, advising businesses on environmental health law.
Depending on where you work, you could deal with a range of issues including food safety, environmental protection, noise, radiation and pollution control, water standards, health and safety at work, animal welfare, waste management, and housing standards. You might specialise in one area, or deal with all environmental health issues in your local area or company.
- 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
- Giving evidence in court
- Writing records and reports
- Advising employers on all environmental health matters
You'll have an office base but will spend most of your time out in the workplace or visiting businesses and homes. Depending on the environment, you may need to wear protective clothing and you'll usually need a driving licence for this job. Your working environment may be dirty.
This role would be ideal for someone with excellent communication and negotiation skills, the ability to explain environmental health laws and procedures, the ability to work methodically, problem-solving and time management skills, and the ability to work with people from all backgrounds.
You'll normally need an environmental health degree or postgraduate degree approved by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) and to complete a period of work-based training to keep an assessed portfolio. When you've completed these stages, you'll achieve full qualification and be awarded the Certificate of Registration from the Environmental Health Registration Board.
You may be able to start as an environmental health technician and study for a part-time environmental health degree while you're working. You'll also need to produce a portfolio of work for assessment and pass professional exams including an interview to qualify.
You can also do an environmental health practitioner degree apprenticeship or you could train and study with the armed forces.
It may be helpful to join the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health for professional development opportunities.
With experience you could apply to the CIEH for Chartered Environmental Health Practitioner status. In local government you could progress to senior, principal or chief environmental health officer. You could also become a university lecturer. There are other opportunities in the developing world and with private companies overseas.