The Complete Job Description for Sanitarians
By Staff Writer

Health and safety specialists — a.k.a. sanitarians — collect and assess safety and health data from a variety of environments in the interest of health and safety in both the private and public sectors.

In a nutshell, a public health sanitarian job description requires the professional to routinely inspect environments to ensure that businesses remain compliant with safety, health, and environmental regulations set forth by federal, state and local governments. Public health professionals detect, prevent or resolve health care issues that impact entire populations., sometimes across great distances. These jobs offer satisfying and meaningful career paths for those interested in public health policies.

Show me the Sanitarian Money!

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, Occupational Health and Safety Specialists earned a median hourly salary of $32.13. That translates to about $67,000 per year. As a government (or quasi-governmental) employee, a Public Health Sanitarian’s compensation package typically includes health-care benefits, flexible scheduling, and retirement plans. Sanitarians positions in 2016 were over 100,000. Recent industry news suggests the field is experiencing an unanticipated shortage of appropriate candidates.

The Sanitarian’s Education & Training Protocol

Sanitarians typically graduate with degrees from the fields of engineering and the sciences. Sanitarians serve communities by controlling/preventing risks to the public’s health. In addition to earning their undergraduate degrees, Occupational Health and Safety Specialists also work through an apprentice-type on-the-job training. In doing so, they have the opportunity to gather information concerning relevant law and local rules, but most of all, they learn how to recognize and investigate hazards. The length of training varies based upon the career path chosen.

To become a sanitarian, one must possess a bachelor’s degree regarding environmental health. Additionally, one can also become certified. If you wish to become certified, be certain that your degree is from an appropriately credited college/university.

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Skill Preferences Needed for Sanitarian Career

The following professional attributes are helpful if you planning a career as a sanitarian:

  • An avid analytical thinker
  • An observational extraordinaire
  • A clear communicator
  • A laudable leader

Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians must be able to use advanced technology. They often work with complex testing equipment.

The daily duties of a sanitarian vary and are dependent upon the area of employment one chooses to explore.

Working the Public Sector

In the public health sector, sanitarians will likely work with government agencies in the promotion of public health. Some measure pollution levels in the air and water, while others investigate the production of foods and products sold to the public. The findings of these scientific tests tend to lead way to revised regulation and law. Additionally, some sanitarians specialize in housing safety or waste management.

Working the Private Sector

The government employs many sanitarians, however, opportunities exist in the private sector as well. Sanitarians are hired by corporations to devise and then manage factory safety policies and environmental emissions. Their job is to know the legal limits and to make sure their employer remains compliant with them. When looking for employment opportunities outside the public sector, you might find these types of jobs listed as ‘Health Manager’, ‘Compliance Specialist’ or ‘Safety Official.’