Environmental Health Practitioner - How to Become an Environmental Health Practitioner

Environmental Health Practitioner

Jump to:

Environmental Health Practitioner Job Description


The job of an environmental health practitioner revolves around the imperative of reducing pollution levels. By doing this, environmental health practitioner makes a sound contribution towards protecting public health. The health practitioner monitors the pollution levels and comes up with solutions on how pollution can be minimized in a particular locality.

Environmental health practitioners can be generalists or specialists. In the latter case, their options are:

  • Air quality experts

  • Soil specialists

  • Hazardous and solid waste professionals

  • Noise abatement specialists

  • Radiological assessors




Environmental health practitioners are required to be skilled in the use, handling, and procurement of specialized equipment needed to measure the contamination in the air, water and soil. They are also known to come up with figures for the radiation and noise levels in the environment.





Must effectively communicate with your co-workers to ensure the best care and the proper procedures. Must be able to communicate in high-stress environments.

Active Listening

Offering your full attention to an individual person or group in order to fully understand problems and their nature.

Critical Thinking

Must use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Judgment and Decision Making

Needs to be able to act autonomously and make difficult decisions that would benefit the patient or make corrections. Must consider all benefits and repercussions of potential actions and choose the appropriate one. 

Complex Problem Solving

Must be able to identify complex problems and develop and evaluate corrective options and implement solutions. 

Stress Management

Must be able to endure intense situations and handle pressure that comes with extreme situations you may encounter.


Must be trustworthy because you have people's lives in your hands and what you do could help or hurt them. They are entrusted with a great responsibility and must live up to it. 


Gauging how people react and read their body language to decipher their feelings and predict their actions. They must be able to determine if people could be a risk to themselves or others and to distinguish truths from lies.


Working Conditions


They work a total of 40 hours every week, although this number can be much higher depending on the need for overtime or weekend work. Overtime work becomes necessary when health care practitioners get involved in emergency response activities.

Most of their work is desk work. However, carrying out inspections in particular sites and fields are common tasks that they are assigned with. They are required to don protective gear and work in conditions that are not very sanitary.

They are employed in local, state or federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Some also seek employment in firms and in the industry. They are often labelled as environmental police since they have the authority to issue citations, intrude business operations and even order a temporary coerced shutdown.



How to Become an Environmental Health Practitioner:


1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)


A four year college degree with a scientific major is required for this profession. For those pursuing a career in environmental health, it is advisable to acquire a degree from an accredited environmental health program.

Accreditation is highly esteemed by employers. In fact, students from accredited programs are the only ones eligible to take part in the US Public Health Service’s Commissioned Corps Officer Student Extern Training Program. The only accreditation body in this field is the National Environmental Health Science Protection Accreditation Council.


Public Health Programs Master List by Accreditation Category 


The preparation timeline below provides an example curriculum: 


Grade Level

Example Courses

Freshman Year


  • Intro to Environmental Health

  • General Chemistry I & Lab

  • Water Quality Control & Lab

  • Environmental Toxicology

  • Pre-Calculus

  • Calculus I

  • English I

  • English II

  • Humanities Requirement/Electives

Sophomore Year

  • Microbiology

  • Environmental Organic Chemistry

  • Food Protection & Sanitation & Lab

  • Medical Entomology & Lab

  • Air Quality Control

  • Quantitative Air Analysis Lab

  • Occupational Health

  • Environmental Health Practices

  • Humanities Requirement/Electives

Junior Year


  • Physics I

  • Global Disparities in Public Health

  • Industrial Hygiene

  • Environmental Regulation & Law

  • Etiology of Infectious Diseases & Lab

  • Radiation Safety

  • Biosafety and Bioterrorism

  • Environmental Health Practices

  • Humanities Requirement/Electives

Senior Year

  • Aquatic Chemistry

  • Solid and Hazardous Waste Management

  • Noise and Hearing Conservation

  • Institutional & Residential Environments

  • Personal Protective Equipment

  • Remaining Electives


2. Earn the Required Certification


Depending on the chosen field and/or location, earning a certification is sometimes necessary to be fully qualified for a position. The National environmental Health Association offers a myriad of credentials including:

Each certification has eligibility requirements and an exam that must be passed. Review the materials above for more information about how to become certified in your selected field.



Salary Outlook