Are you an environment enthusiast and like solving environmental issues to protect and promote public health? Then a career as an Environmental Health Officer can be perfect for you.
Environmental health officers ensure people's living and working surroundings are safe, hygienic, and healthy. They develop, enforce and assess environmental health policies, strategies, and programs to enhance the health and overall wellbeing of the general public.
To work as an Environmental Health Officer, You need a bachelor’s degree in public health, environmental health, health science, environmental science, or another related field.
This blog is about helping you understand what an Environmental Health Officer is, what he does, how much he earns, where he works, and what steps you need to take to become one in Australia.
1. What Is An Environmental Health Officer?
Environmental Health Officers help safeguard people against the spread of pollution and disease.
They have advanced knowledge of environmental health and the ability to enforce legislation to ensure organizations fulfil standards concerning air, food, and water quality.
Following are the range of public health services they provide to the community:
Safe and appropriate food
Prevent and control communicable and notifiable conditions
Land use management
Aboriginal environmental health
Sustainability and climate change
Emergency and event management.
2. What Are The Roles And Responsibilities Of An Environmental Health Officer?
The general duties of an Environmental Health Officer include:
Develop, implement, and review environmental health management plans, policies, legislation, and health education programs.
Inspect and audit workplaces, manufacturing plants, processes, public buildings, and houses for legislative compliance.
Examine and manage public health incidents due to the environment, such as disease outbreaks, pest infestation, pollution, etc.
Formulate and execute plans for the safe and affordable disposal of industrial, commercial, medical, and household wastes.
Work to identify and minimize environmental hazards and enhance health.
Manage immunization campaigns.
Examine complaints related to food safety and ensure small and large-scale food corporations follow health regulations.
Respond to emergencies and disasters where public health is at risk.
Inspect houses and public buildings to ensure they comply with health, safety, and environmental standards.
Examine license premises such as tattoo parlours, acupuncturists, beauty salons, etc., which may pose risks related to the transmission of infectious diseases to the community.
Implement prevention strategies and programs for diseases, wastewater treatment and disposal systems, food safety, contaminated or hazardous substances, and domestic water quality.
Promotes ergonomic principles in the workplace to suit the employees’ needs.
Trains employees to use personal protective equipment and apply safe working procedures.
Prepare statistics and give evidence in court cases.
Record and examine equipment damage and injuries and prepare reports on safety performance.
Facilitate the return of wounded workers into the workplace.
3. Personal Requirements For Environmental Health Officers
These are the skills that you need to succeed as an Environment Health Officer:
Strong understanding of environmental health issues
Good oral and written communication skills
Good negotiation skills
Able to analyze a problem and arrive at a solution
Able to stay firm and unbiased during the decision-making process
Able to take initiative
Able to explain complex legislation and procedures to people of different cultures and backgrounds
Good level of technical and scientific understanding
High level of attention to detail
Good people skills to communicate with people from diverse backgrounds
Good observational abilities
4. What Qualifications Do You Need For Environmental Health
To become and work as an Environmental Health Officer, you usually need a bachelor’s degree focussing on environmental health or a related field.
Here are the environmental health officer qualifications in Australia:
Complete your Australian Year 12 (or equivalent) in one or more prerequisite subjects such as English, biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics.
Complete a 3-year full-time university degree in environmental science, environmental health, public health, environmental management, or a related field.
Though optional, you can continue further studies by completing a Master of Environmental Health or a Graduate Diploma in Environmental Health to improve your career prospects.
Gaining membership in Environmental Health Australia is advantageous to secure an entry role in this field. Student membership in this national professional association is available only for those studying for an accredited environmental health degree.
5. Steps To Become An Environmental Health Officer
If a career as an Environmental Health Officer interests you, here are the recommended steps to get qualified and receive accreditation by Environmental Health Australia.
Step 1: Study Environmental Health
To be an environmental health officer, you need to study for an EHA-approved degree focussing on environmental health, like a Bachelor of Environmental Science, Bachelor of Public Health (Environmental Health), or Bachelor of Health Sciences (Environment Health).
Alternatively, graduates with any other undergraduate degree in a related discipline can complete a postgraduate qualification in environmental health to pursue this career.
For Example, Swinburne University allows graduates with a Bachelor of Science (three years full-time) to enrol in the EHA-accredited Graduate Diploma of Environmental Health Practice.
The courses help you understand and manage environmental health issues, including food safety, infectious disease outbreaks, hazardous waste, and water pollution.
After completing these, you develop skills in environmental health compliance and risk assessment and become capable of working independently or in a team to plan and coordinate environmental health projects.
Step 2: Get Professional Accreditation
Graduates of the environmental health degree are eligible to apply for membership in Environmental Health Australia. It is a national professional association for environmental health officers and other professionals employed in environmental health.
Step 3: Continue Your Learning
Environmental Health is a professional role that requires mastery of a broad array of multidisciplinary studies.
A Master’s of Environmental Health is an ideal postgraduate program that helps students develop the skill to understand, critically evaluate, avoid and solve various environmental issues to protect and promote the health and well-being of the community.
Master of Environmental Health - Flinders University
Graduate Diploma in Environmental Health Practice - Flinders University
Graduate Diploma of Environmental Health Practice – Swinburne University
Graduate Diploma of Environmental Health - The University of Tasmania
6. How Much Does An Environmental Health Officer Earn In Australia?
According to Pay Scale, the average environmental health officer’s salary in Australia is AU$75,133 per year, or an hourly equivalent to AU$39.55. Experience is a huge factor that influences an environmental health officer’s salary.
The more experience you gain, the more chances you have to earn a higher salary than new entrants into the industry.
Salary Based on Experience
Entry-level Environmental Health Officers (< 1-year experience): AU$64,573 per year
Early career Environmental Health Officers (1-4 years of experience): AU$68,902 per year
Mid-career Environmental Health Officers (5-9 years of experience): AU$77,152 per year
Top Paying Cities For EHOs in Australia
Perth: $125,756 per year
Melbourne: $116,694 per year
Sydney: $115,089 per year
Brisbane: $106,862 per year
Croydon: $94,696 per year
Central Coast: $93,302 per year
Ringwood: $92,840 per year
Griffith: $86,018 per year
7. Working Conditions For An Environmental Health Officer
Environmental Health Officers spend most of their time consulting, evaluating, managing and promoting environmental health activities.
They work closely with practitioners from government agencies, specialists in various fields, and an array of businesses.
Environmental Health Officers can work in both offices or conduct site inspections at diverse locations such as:
Tattoo and beauty salons
Private or public accommodations
When talking about their work hours, Environmental Health Officers work standard business hours, from Monday to Friday, but may require working in the evenings and on weekends to meet project deadlines. Opportunities for job sharing and part-time work may be available.
Environmental health officers use tools and technologies such as thermometers, sterile and sealed jars, and other sampling equipment to capture light and noise levels while conducting site visits.
Since the Environmental Health Officer’s job may require visiting unsanitary, unfriendly, or risky sites, Environmental health officers must wear protective clothing, including face masks, hair nets, and hand gloves, to stay safe.
Environmental health officers use general office equipment and computers to organize and maintain detailed records of work and legal proceedings.
8. Who Employs The Environmental Health Officer?
Though they primarily work for the government, opportunities in the private sector are growing. Environmental health officers (EHOs) work for local councils and a few other workplaces such as:
State and federal government organizations
The Australian defence force
Large food processing companies
State and territory health and environment departments
International aid organizations
9. Available Areas Of Specializations
Environmental Health Officers may specialize in various areas such as:
The areas of air, water, and food quality
Disease vector control like mosquito control
Health education and
Experienced EHOs with specialization can work in a range of scientific and allied professions, such as:
Food Safety Auditor
Food Safety Officer
10. Job Outlook For Environmental Health Officer In Australia
ANZSCO Occupation Group: 251311 Environmental Health Officers
The environmental sector is one of the largest and fastest-growing sectors in Australia. As society becomes more conscious of the significance of living and sustainable working, the demand for environmental expertise rises.
Moreover, the increasing adoption of a more holistic and proactive approach to quality management and safety indicates the overall employment of environmental health officers to grow faster than the average for all occupations.
According to the government’s labour market insights, the industry has stable employment numbers. Compared to the past five years' data, the number of Environmental Health officers increased from 3500 in 2017 to 3600 in 2022 in Australia.
The government projects the employment trend to continue for Environmental Health Officers in almost all regions of Australia.
Around 76% of employed Environmental Health Officers work full-time for an average of 41 hours per week.
Major Industries Of Employment
Public Administration And Safety: 55.4%
Health Care And Social Assistance: 20.3%
Professional, Scientific, And Technical Services: 5.4%
Other Industries: 12.9%
Employment Across Australia
Queensland has a large share of employment.
New South Wales: 27.7%
South Australia: 8.1%
Western Australia: 11.7%
Northern Territory: 1.0%
Australian Capital Territory: 2.2%
Worker’s Age And Gender Profile
The average age of employed Environment Health Officers is 42 years, with most of them in the age groups of 35 to 44 years. (All Jobs Average Is 40)
Females constitute 54% of the employed workforce. (All jobs average is 48%)
11. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Is The Main Role of an Environmental Health Officer?
Environmental health officers safeguard, promote, and enhance public health to prevent people from falling ill from their environment. They are mainly responsible for investigating events that are concerned with environmental and human health.
They communicate with people, businesses, and communities, to examine, educate, run projects, assess planning, and monitor the following issues:
Accidents at work
Waste management (wastewater and water recycling)
Water cooling systems
Pest infestations, vermin, and animals
Tattoo and piercing
Health and safety at work
Tobacco and smoking controls
Public swimming and spa pools
How Many Years Does It Take To Study Environmental Health?
To become an Environmental Health Officer, you need to complete a VET or an undergraduate degree in environmental health, environmental science, public health, health science, or another related field.
Depending on the course you study, preferred study mode (full-time or part-time), and any recognition of prior learning you may have, it may take anywhere between 2 to 4 years to pursue this role.
How Do I Train as an Environmental Health Officer?
Most EHOs begin their career in this field with undergraduate degrees, including associate degrees, bachelor and bachelors with honors. These environmental health officer courses involve coursework and original research to help students develop a strong base in health care, policy, and systems.
Moreover, valuable workplace learning opportunities offered as part of the course help them apply their knowledge in real-world scenarios, develop professional networks within the health sector, and prepare them for a successful career in the booming health sector.
Is Environmental Health a Good Course?
Environmental Health is a flexible course helping to enhance the health and well-being of people both locally and globally. If you are interested in science, health, and the environment and want to work at the frontline of health protection in your community, environmental health courses are a necessary pathway.
The course equips you with the knowledge, expertise, and skills to reduce and mitigate contemporary health issues and health hazards caused due to the surrounding environment. You gain the ability to apply and supervise laws regulating public health to preserve and promote environmental practices and human health.
Combining environmental health with other health specializations can increase your competitiveness for many health roles as you embark on your professional journey.
Who appoints an Environmental Health Officer?
Environmental health officers are appointed by various public and private sector institutions. The prominent ones are:
State and Local Governments
The Military and the Defence Force
Large food retailers
Can I Study Environmental Health at TAFE?
Here is a list of Environmental Health Officer TAFE courses you can study to get an understanding of this industry:
The job of an Environmental Health Officer is diverse, challenging, and dynamic. Working in the interest of public health and helping lead healthier and happier lives is a rewarding experience.
If you are passionate about environmental health and improving the health and wellbeing of society and want to gain a solid grounding in various health-related fields, completing environmental health courses is the best route to pursuing your passion.
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