Environmental Health Officer

    If you are wondering how to become an environmental health officer, below are tips and advice on training for and beginning careers in this area of the environment and conservation, as well as job prospects in the UK.

    The Job Description
    Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) aim to make sure that people’s living and working surroundings are safe and hygienic. They can deal with a wide range of issues such as:

    food safety
    environmental protection and pollution control
    noise control
    health and safety at work
    public health
    waste management
    housing standards.
    As an EHO you could specialise in one of these, or you might deal with all environmental health issues in your area.

    Typical responsibilities:

    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 the community and giving educational talks
    giving evidence in cases that come to court
    keeping records and writing reports.
    You would work closely with housing, building control, trading standards and waste management officers and the Health and Safety Executive.

    Person Specification
    The key personal attributes of good environmental health officers include:

    good spoken and written communication skills
    negotiation skills
    care and attention to detail
    the ability to understand and explain relevant laws
    good ‘people skills’, for dealing with people from all backgrounds
    a good level of scientific and technical understanding
    assertiveness and tact
    the ability to work alone and as part of a team
    a full driving licence.

    How to become an environmental health officer
    To become an environmental health officer you must:

    get an environmental health degree (BSc) or postgraduate degree (MSc) that is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH)
    complete a year-long work-based learning placement
    pass a series of professional exams whilst working as a trainee EHO.
    To get onto an environmental health degree you will normally need five GCSEs (A-C) and two A levels, preferably including a science subject. Check with universities about other qualifications that they may accept. To get onto an MSc in environmental health, you will need a first degree in a scientific subject.

    See the CIEH or REHIS website for a list of universities offering accredited courses.

    Alternatively, you could start as an environmental health technician with a local council, if you have A levels, a BTEC National Diploma or HND in a scientific subject, or previous experience in related work like food hygiene or pest control.

    Your employer may then offer you the chance to progress to fully-qualified EHO by sponsoring you to do the degree part-time whilst you are working as an environmental health technician.

    Training and Development
    To fully qualify as an environmental health officer, you must:

    complete a work-based learning placement either during or after your degree
    keep a training logbook, known as an Experiential Learning Portfolio (ELP), during the placement
    have your ELP assessed as competent
    pass the CIEH Professional Examination.
    When you have successfully completed all these stages, you will be fully qualified and receive the Certificate of Registration from Environmental Health Registration Board. This gives you graduate membership of CIEH.

    As a qualified environmental health officer, you should keep up to date with new developments throughout your career. CIEH offers a range of short courses and seminars to help your professional development.

    After around five years of professional practice, you can apply to CIEH for Chartered Environmental Health Practitioner status.

    The Pay (a rough guide)
    EHOs in local government earn araound £25,000 to £30,000 a year.
    Experienced senior EHOs and managers can earn up to £60,000 a year.

    Job Prospects
    You are most likely to work for local councils all over the UK. You could also work in the private sector, for example checking on food standards and health and safety for companies like food suppliers and hotels.

    Jobs and training placements may be advertised in the local and national press, on and local council websites, and in the CIEH Environmental Health News.

    In local government there is a clearly defined promotion structure to senior, principal and chief environmental health officer. With experience, you could also choose become an environmental health consultant in the private sector, advising businesses on environmental health law.

    Useful environmental resources:
    Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH)
    Chadwick Court
    15 Hatfields
    SE1 8DJ
    Tel: 020 7928 6006
    Careers website:

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