Environmental Health Practitioner - Job Description, Duties, Education, Skills, Salary, & Growth

Environmental Health Practitioner


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Job Description

The Environmental Health Practitioner job description is quite complex because they do so much. They must fulfill many responsibilities. A typical day may involve typing reports or giving presentations. They must have many skills to succeed as an Environmental Health Practitioner. The job of an Environmental Health Practitioner revolves around the imperative of reducing pollution levels. By doing this, Environmental Health Practitioners make 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. These days, the public is especially concerned with their health and safety. The chemical terrorist threats of recent years have raised awareness. The public wants assurance that we breathe clean air and drink safe water. Federal and local governments place regulations to keep our air, water, and land clean and safe. They use an Environmental Health Practitioner to do this.

The Environmental Health Practitioner job description includes being an expert in the natural sciences and our physical environment. They use this knowledge to keep us save from our environment. This includes protecting us from food-borne illnesses and environment-related diseases. They come up with solutions for reducing pollution. 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

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Responsibilities

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. With the Environmental Health Practitioner job description, you’ll find many job responsibilities. You may have heard of them referred to as the environmental police because they have the authority to issue citations, intrude on business operations, or even enforce a temporary shutdown.

They are also known to come up with figures for the radiation and noise levels in the environment.

Environmental Health Practitioner responsibilities include:

  • Collecting data from sources such as research projects and surveys
  • Analyzing environmental samples to identify potential hazards
  • Create plans to prevent potential environmental pollution disasters
  • Writing scientific reports
  • Informing and educating the public and government on scientific findings and potential hazards

Environmental Health Practitioner job responsibilities include using special equipment to measure pollution levels in the air, soil, and water. They also monitor noise and radiation levels. Many Environmental Health Practitioners are generalists, meaning that they work in many different areas. However, some work as specialists.

Some areas an Environmental Health Practitioner may specialize in include:

• Air Quality

Air quality specialists work indoors and outdoors to monitor mold, allergens, and other air toxins generated by businesses, transportation, and farming operations.

• Soil Specialists

Soil specialists look at land contamination by monitoring waste generated by farming, garbage, and manufacturing. They watch how these wastes interact with our land and if it’s hazardous to everyday people.

• Hazardous and Solid Waste Professionals

Hazardous and solid waste professionals try to minimize the waste that pollutes our land. They look for alternative ways of disposing of waste and they take part in cleaning up spilled products that can harm us.

• Noise Abatement Specialists

Noise pollution is just as harmful as air and water pollution. Noise abatement specialists are responsible for creating and enforcing limits on the noise levels in neighborhoods. This restricts noise levels caused by businesses, vehicles, and even partying people and barking dogs.

• Radiological Assessors

These Environmental Health Practitioners keep radiation levels safe for the public by monitoring radioactivity emitted from things like nuclear power plants and medical equipment.

Environmental Health Practitioner responsibilities require watching the world around us. When they see problems in the environment that can cause harm to our health, they work to develop solutions. For example, if there’s a chemical in a pesticide that hurts our air quality, environmental health specialists inform the government and work with them to come up with an alternative and safer solution.

The Environmental Health Practitioner job description may include working on construction projects, making sure that chemicals and pollutants released in the air are minimal. They can inform the government and construction professionals on harmful risks associated with these projects. They come up with alternatives to keep these building projects as safe as possible.

Other Environmental Health Practitioner responsibilities involve working in labs researching and analyzing environmental samples and using their findings to come up with solutions to healthier practices.

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Common Activities On The Job

The Environmental Health Practitioner career may include many different activities. Most professionals work at least 40 hours per week. Depending on certain projects, you may work significantly more, including weekends.

You may find an Environmental Health Practitioner career in places like government agencies at the federal, state, and local level. They may also work in engineering plants and with scientific consulting services. You may also need to travel to meet with clients or hold presentations.

Sometimes, you’ll need to visit sites to collect data and carry out inspections. At times, you may need to wear protective equipment and visit unsanitary areas. You may also need to work outdoors in unfavorable weather conditions. Most likely though, you’ll probably spend most of your time behind a desk.

• Research

These professionals are required to perform lots of research. They may have to perform tests and analyze physical data such as soil. They need to have knowledge of common materials used in our environment. They use this knowledge to learn about new alternatives for safer materials. They can also research the effects new products have with ones currently used. In doing this research, they may conduct surveys, conduct experiments, or use other research methods.

• Writing

Since Environmental health practitioners need to do a lot of research, you’ll need to report these findings. Sometimes you may report them orally. Often though, you’ll need to write scientific reports detailing your findings. Some documents you may prepare include inspection reports and scientific articles. You also need to conduct follow up appointments and report how your site is responding to any changes implemented.

• Investigating

You may get complaints from the public regarding environmental health concerns such as food-borne illnesses or illnesses acquired from the environment. You’ll investigate these concerns by asking questions, visiting sites, and conducting meetings.

• Training and Supervising

Sometimes, you’ll need to mentor and train new employees on the job. You may work directly with science and health technicians. You’ll have to form relationships with other people. If you’ll be supervising others directly, you’ll be responsible for their performance as well as your own.

• Educating

You’ll be responsible for informing and educating colleagues and the public on findings and how to keep themselves safe. You may have to conduct meetings, prepare and present presentations, and answer questions.

• Reviewing Proposals

You may need to review the plans and proposals presented to your department. You will need to approve or deny these proposals or offer alternative solutions. These plans may involve the operations of food establishments, factories, sewage plants, and more.

• Learning

During your Environmental Health Practitioner career, you must keep learning. A big part of the Environmental Health Practitioner responsibilities involves research and education. You’ll need to stay up to date on news and conditions that impact the environment. Be aware of how certain changes directly affect your job and their area. Be prepared to take action if these changes could be harmful.

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Skills

During your Environmental Health Practitioner career, you must have the mastery of certain skills. Without these skills, you'll be unable to do your job. To be an Environmental Health Practitioner, you need to be an expert in science.

You should also possess skills such as these:

 

Communication

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. You must communicate with others. Since you’ll be handling information that means the health and safety of the public, you need to report findings in a way for the lay person to understand. You’ll have to conduct meetings and answer questions, at times under lots of pressure.

Active Listening

Offering your full attention to an individual person or group in order to fully understand problems and their nature. Communication skills involve listening. Whenever you are speaking with an individual or a group of people, hear the input of those around you. You should not only be able to give information but be open to receiving information.

Critical Thinking

Must use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems. Scientists need to use logic and reasoning to gather and interpret information. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of alternative solutions, approaches, or conclusions.

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. Sometimes you’ll need to make quick decisions. You should have a clear understanding of what’s at stake every time you work. Make decisions that would be beneficial to all. You have to understand the benefits and repercussions of each possibility and choose the final option with everyone in mind.

Complex Problem Solving

Must be able to identify complex problems and develop and evaluate corrective options and implement solutions. They have difficult problems. They need to be able to identify these problems quickly. They should look at the problem from a variety of angles to come up with the appropriate solution.

Stress Management

Must be able to endure intense situations and handle pressure that comes with extreme situations you may encounter. Having so many lives in your hand can get stressful. Since this job can require overtime and working with many different personalities, good stress management skills are a must. They must endure tense situations and work well under pressure.

Trustworthiness

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. You’re working with sensitive information that affects many lives, including your own. You have a huge responsibility. You need to be trusted to do your job well.

Perceptiveness

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. You need to be able to look at situations from every point of view. Working with people involves getting to know a lot of different personalities. Watch body language to understand what people want and to try to predict their actions. You should able to tell the truth from lies.

Scientific Knowledge

To teach others about the environment, you need to have that knowledge yourself. You should have strong skills in physical and natural sciences. You also have to read and understand scientific writings.

Management and Leadership

Even if you’re not directly in a management position, you may still have to catch the attention of a large group of people at meetings and during presentations. You’ll need to manage the day-to-day operations and provide effective feedback.

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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.

If you're interested in learning more about How To Become an Environmental Health Practitioner, you should take a look at our Environmental Health Practitioner Career Path, and also check out the Salary Trend Insights for Environmental Health Practitioners.

 

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Salary Outlook

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