Complete Job Description of an Environmental Health Specialist
By Staff Writer

An Environmental Health Specialist or Scientist (EHS) can be found working in a variety of situations within the Public Health sector. They may conduct research in a professional office or laboratory, or work with a more hands-on manner in the field.  The best Environmental Health Scientist job includes conducting environmental health investigations or inspections for government health departments and private companies. Some practitioners may be responsible for inspecting food manufacturing plants, landfills, storage tanks found underground, or even play a part in decontaminating a radioactive environment! An EHS also works to make sure our mass-produced food supply is as safe as possible for the environment and greater populations. Remember that recent Romaine lettuce recall? We can thank an EHS for alerting the public of widespread outbreaks that can affect the health of many.

Environmental Health Specialists may respond to waste spills, oversee the clean-up of polluted areas, advise policymakers on projects, or work with the EPA in finding ways to reduce waste. They may be responsible for implementing health and safety training programs, collecting environmental health statistics, and giving safety protection support to employees within a given workplace. An EHS will often supervise in the field and create surveys, monitor or test equipment, and ensure the quality of technology the company or lab is using.

What are the Skills Required to Become an EHS?

As an EHS, the skills needed for the job require knowledge of natural sciences, reading analytical data, understanding environment protection laws, and in some cases, experience writing policy. A strong background in statistics is also helpful. An EHS may need to explain safety measures and health hazards to the public or communities at large, so leadership and public speaking is imperative.

Courses in natural sciences, math, and environmental health are standard for a student pursuing a degree in Public Health with an Environmental Health focus. While a Bachelor’s degree is required for many entry-level positions in the field, most people go on the receive a Master’s degree in Environment Health, Public Health, or Health Science. Earning a Master’s in Environmental Health online is becoming increasingly common. The comprehensive education for an EHS depends on the specific career path one chooses. For instance, an Environmental Health Nurse will first have to obtain a nursing degree and then take coursework in Environmental Public Health.

Why Become an Environmental Health Specialist?

With so many environmental concerns and hazards facing members of the public, the need for EHS workers is on the rise. Both government-run agencies and for-profit companies are in constant need of specialists like the EHS worker. These professionals can determine the appropriate care and provide the best solutions for any environmental problems that may arise. The ideal applicants for EHS positions are individuals with superb problem-solving skills and the ability to fast action. A foundation of Environmental Science knowledge through  schooling and the practical skills of developing strategies when problems arise will be invaluable in this field.

Environmental Health Science Salary Expectations

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), The employment of EHS workers is expected to grow to eleven percent between 2016-2026. The EHS field is said to be one of the fastest growing occupations in recent years. There also has been a growing call for EHS workers because of public interest in hazards facing the environment. Many Environmental Health Specialist or Scientists work in large corporations that offer huge health benefit packages to their committed employees. The annual average median pay for an Environmental Health Specialist is $69,400, as of May 2017. However, some  environmental health jobs have reported earnings up to $85,000 a year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.