Environmental Health Sciences - How to Become an Environmental Health Scientist

Environmental Health Sciences

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Environmental Health Sciences Job Description

 

Environmental health professionals carry out one of the most important jobs in the country. It is their responsibility to make sure that all the environmental risks in the country have been identified, assessed, and analyzed in an attempt to protect and improve public health.

Choosing a career in environmental health sciences can lead to a number of complex and multifaceted professions. People who work in this sector are required to possess extensive knowledge on chemistry, biology, toxicology, engineering and other disciplines which are related to the protection and betterment of the environment. Professionals of environmental health sciences work in close collaboration with geologists, biologists, meteorologists, physicians, engineers and physicists.

Careers in environmental health sciences include:

  • Environmental Consultant

  • Environmental Scientist

  • Public Health Specialist

  • Environmental Enforcement Officer

  • Water Treatment Manager

  • Toxicologist

  • Occupational Health Specialist

  • Wastewater Treatment Manager

People working in the environmental health sciences are individuals who love working in teams and are dedicated to help save the environment with scientific applications.

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Responsibilities

 

Since environmental health sciences is an umbrella term that encompasses many specific job titles, the responsibilities can vary wildly. However, these positions revolve around one particular goal: to investigate potential environmental health risks and address them.

Responsibilities these positions entail can include:

  • Cleaning polluted areas

  • Advising policymakers

  • Reducing waste in a particular industry

  • Organized and execute outreach campaigns to educate the public

  • Research how environmental factors can impact human health

  • Study the effects of chemicals on the environment

For specific responsibilities consult job listings for the position and/or company you're considering.

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Skills

 

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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Working Conditions

 

One of the most common career paths chosen is working for an environmental health related agency of the federal government such as National Center for Environmental Health.

Environmental health professionals usually work normal business hours, but are expected to be available beyond their working schedule should an emergency arise.

 


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How to Become an Environmental Health Practitioner:

 

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

 

It is imperative for an individual to enroll in an accredited program for environmental health science before working in the field as a professional. A complete list of accredited environmental health science programs can be found in website of the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).

Some of the common areas of study that are included in the accredited programs are:

  • Water quality

  • Noise control

  • Hazardous waste management

  • Housing quality

  • Vector control

  • Environmental control of recreational areas

  • Radiation protection

 

The preparation timeline below provides an example environmental health sciences curriculum:

 

Grade Level

Example Courses

Freshman Year

 

  • Public Health I

  • Public Health II

  • Biology I & Lab

  • Psychology I

  • Pre-Calculus

  • English I

  • English II

  • Humanities Requirement/Electives

Sophomore Year

  • Introduction to Epidemiology

  • Issues in Global Environmental Health

  • Behavior in Public Health

  • International Health Care & the U.S.

  • Environmental Justice

  • Research Methods in Public Health

  • Humanities Requirement/Electives

Junior Year

 

  • Fundamentals of Environmental Health risk Assessment

  • Climate Change and Human Health

  • Biostatistics for Public Health

  • Global Health Illness

  • Medical Sociology

  • Violence

  • Criminology

  • Social Stratification

  • Humanities Requirement/Electives

Senior Year

  • Biology I & Lab

  • Outbreak Investigation

  • Infectious Diseases in the Developed World

  • Capstone

  • Health Disparities in Social Context

  • Remaining Electives

 

There is no specific degree requirement to enter this field. However, more opportunities are available to those that complete a science-intensive curriculum. Students should take courses in chemistry, biology, physics, geosciences, and/or engineering. They can also specialize in areas like toxicology, hydrology, waste management, or fluid mechanics.

 

2. Consider a Post-Baccalaureate Program (2 - 8 Years)

 

Many more opportunities are available to those that delve further into their education and specialty. While studies beyond a bachelor's degree are not required to enter the field, candidates will find that continuing their studies allows them to dig deeper into the field they're interested in, increase their value on the job market, and open additional opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable.

Those than pursue a doctoral program will be qualified to teach on the university level and to undertake and oversee research projects.

 

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Salary Outlook