Environmental health officer: job description

Environmental health officers monitor health and hygiene standards and investigate environmental health problems.

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What does an environmental health officer do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Environmental health officers are responsible for monitoring and enforcing health and hygiene legislation. They also investigate when there's an incident, such as pollution, a noise problem, toxic contamination, pest infestation or an outbreak of food poisoning.

They're likely to spend time in the community they serve inspecting premises, collecting evidence from incidents and providing advice.

Other responsibilities include:

  • advising employers about matters of environmental health
  • compiling reports
  • delivering training
  • investigating complaints – eg of pests or food poisoning
  • serving legal notices
  • providing evidence in court
  • liaising with other organisations.

There are usually opportunities for promotion, as there is a structured career path for employees with local authorities.

Typical employers of environmental health officers

  • Local authorities
  • Consultancies
  • The Armed Forces
  • Commercial organisations
  • Supermarkets and large food retailers

Jobs are advertised on local authority websites and specialist environmental health industry-focused ones such as EHN Jobs. Larger and commercial organisations may advertise on national newspaper websites as well as their own websites. A few specialist recruitment agencies also advertise roles.

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into becoming an environmental health officer for both graduates and school leavers.

For graduates, you'll need a degree approved by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. You'll then be eligible to join its chartered environmental health practitioner programme. If you don't have an accredited degree, you'll need to do a postgraduate course before you can join the chartered programme and progress in your career.

Key skills for environmental health officers

You'll need good communication skills along with an ability to work as part of a team. Other essential qualities and skills include:

  • strong and clear written and verbal communication skills
  • interpersonal skills to explain legislation and procedures to people from all backgrounds
  • close attention to detail
  • the ability to analyse and solve problems.

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