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Become An Environmental Health Specialist

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Working As An Environmental Health Specialist

  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
  • Getting Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Training and Teaching Others
  • $70,210

    Average Salary

What Does An Environmental Health Specialist Do

Occupational health and safety specialists analyze many types of work environments and work procedures. Specialists inspect workplaces for adherence to regulations on safety, health, and the environment. They also design programs to prevent disease or injury to workers and damage to the environment.

Duties

Occupational health and safety specialists typically do the following:

  • Identify hazards in the workplace
  • Collect samples of potentially toxic materials for analysis
  • Inspect and evaluate workplace environments, equipment, and practices for compliance with corporate and government health and safety standards and regulations
  • Design and implement workplace processes and procedures that help protect workers from hazardous work conditions
  • Investigate accidents and incidents to identify their causes and to determine how they might be prevented
  • Conduct training on a variety of topics, such as emergency preparedness

Occupational health and safety specialists examine the workplace for environmental or physical factors that could affect employee health, safety, comfort, and performance. They may examine factors such as lighting, equipment, materials, and ventilation. Specialists seek to increase worker productivity by reducing absenteeism and equipment downtime. They also seek to save money by lowering insurance premiums and workers’ compensation payments and by preventing government fines.

Some specialists develop and conduct employee safety and training programs. These programs cover a range of topics, such as how to use safety equipment correctly and how to respond in an emergency.

In addition to protecting workers, specialists work to prevent harm to property, the environment, and the public by inspecting workplaces for chemical, physical, radiological, and biological hazards. Specialists who work for governments conduct safety inspections and can impose fines.

Occupational health and safety specialists work with engineers and physicians to control or fix hazardous conditions or equipment. They also work closely with occupational health and safety technicians to collect and analyze data in the workplace. 

The tasks of occupational health and safety specialists vary by industry, workplace, and types of hazards affecting employees. The following are examples of types of occupational health and safety specialists:

Ergonomists consider the design of industrial, office, and other equipment to maximize workers’ comfort, safety, and productivity.

Industrial or occupational hygienists identify workplace health hazards, such as lead, asbestos, noise, pesticides, and communicable diseases.

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How To Become An Environmental Health Specialist

Occupational health and safety specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety or in a related scientific or technical field.

Education

Occupational health and safety specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety or in a related scientific or technical field, such as engineering, biology, or chemistry. For some positions, a master’s degree in industrial hygiene, health physics, or a related subject is required.

Typical courses include radiation science, hazardous material management and control, risk communications, and respiratory protection. These courses may vary with the specialty in which a student wants to work. For example, courses in health physics focus on topics that differ from those in industrial hygiene.

High school students interested in becoming occupational health and safety specialists should take courses in English, math, chemistry, biology, and physics.

Important Qualities

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

Communication skills. Occupational health and safety specialists must be able to communicate safety instructions and concerns to employees and managers. They need to be able to work with technicians to collect and test samples of possible hazards, such as dust or vapors, in the workplace.

Detail oriented. Occupational health and safety specialists need to understand and follow safety standards and complex government regulations.

Physical stamina. Occupational health and safety specialists must be able to stand for long periods and be able to travel regularly. Some specialists work in environments that can be uncomfortable, such as tunnels or mines.

Problem-solving skills. Occupational health and safety specialists must be able to solve problems in order to design and implement workplace processes and procedures that help protect workers from hazardous work conditions.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although certification is voluntary, many employers encourage it. Certification is available through several organizations, depending on the field in which the specialists work. Specialists must have graduated from an accredited educational program and have work experience to be eligible to take most certification exams. To keep their certification, specialists usually are required to complete periodic continuing education.

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Environmental Health Specialist jobs

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Environmental Health Specialist Demographics

Gender

Male

55.8%

Female

42.0%

Unknown

2.2%
Ethnicity

White

80.7%

Hispanic or Latino

9.4%

Asian

7.1%

Unknown

2.2%

Black or African American

0.6%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

60.5%

French

7.0%

Portuguese

4.7%

Hindi

4.7%

Arabic

4.7%

Vietnamese

2.3%

Finnish

2.3%

Chinese

2.3%

Greek

2.3%

Hebrew

2.3%

Mandarin

2.3%

Urdu

2.3%

Italian

2.3%
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Environmental Health Specialist Education

Schools

Columbia Southern University

11.2%

Old Dominion University

8.3%

Ball State University

7.7%

Arizona State University

5.3%

Indiana State University

5.3%

San Diego State University

5.3%

Walden University

5.3%

University of Phoenix

5.3%

Eastern Kentucky University

4.7%

East Tennessee State University

4.1%

University of Florida

4.1%

University of Georgia

4.1%

Western Carolina University

4.1%

University of South Florida

3.6%

East Carolina University

3.6%

University of Central Missouri

3.6%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

3.6%

George Washington University

3.6%

Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis

3.6%

Northern Arizona University

3.6%
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Majors

Public Health

29.5%

Biology

15.1%

Environmental Science

10.8%

Business

6.7%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

4.3%

Ecology, Population Biology, And Epidemiology

3.8%

Management

3.4%

Health Care Administration

3.3%

Nursing

2.7%

Geology

2.6%

Education

2.2%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.1%

Microbiology

1.9%

Food Science

1.9%

Chemistry

1.9%

Occupational Safety And Health

1.9%

Health Sciences And Services

1.7%

Food And Nutrition

1.5%

Health Education

1.5%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

1.4%
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Degrees

Bachelors

46.0%

Masters

33.5%

Other

9.2%

Associate

4.3%

Doctorate

3.3%

Certificate

3.0%

Diploma

0.6%
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Real Environmental Health Specialist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Environmental Health and Safety Specialist, Superv University of California, Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA Aug 04, 2014 $82,000
Environmental Health and Safety Specialist University of California, Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA May 20, 2014 $58,252
Environmental Health and Safety Specialist Nature's Value Inc. Coram, NY Dec 09, 2016 $57,907 -
$80,000
Environmental Health and Safety Specialist Nature's Value Inc. Coram, NY Sep 12, 2013 $51,000
Senior Environmental Health & Specialist Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Tallahassee, FL Jan 22, 2011 $44,575
Environmental Health & Safety Specialist II Texas A&M University College Station, TX Oct 06, 2016 $37,523
Environmental Health Specialist Spiretek International, Inc. Houston, TX Nov 06, 2009 $37,461
Environmental Health Specialist Spiretek International, Inc. Houston, TX Oct 01, 2009 $37,461

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Top Skills for An Environmental Health Specialist

PublicHealthLawsFoodSafetyClassesEmergencyResponseFoodServiceEstablishmentsProceduresEnsureComplianceRetailFoodEstablishmentsCorrectiveActionFDAPlanReviewWaterQualityHygieneOshaSepticSystemsTemporaryCountyHealthDepartmentHazardousWasteAirQualitySolidWasteHealthInspections

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Top Environmental Health Specialist Skills

  1. Public Health Laws
  2. Food Safety Classes
  3. Emergency Response
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Conducted food safety inspections, performed plan review of new establishments, conducted food safety classes.
  • Developed and implemented Emergency Response Team Programs, and trained employees in agency specific safety/industrial hygiene/sanitation programs.
  • Review plans for food service establishments and child care facilities.
  • Conducted preventive medicine inspections, surveys, and control operations and assisted with preventive medicine laboratory procedures.
  • Inspected licensed establishments and public facilities to ensure compliance with state and local health regulations.

Top Environmental Health Specialist Employers

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Environmental Health Specialist Videos

What Can You Do with Public Health Degree

Career Advice on becoming a Health and Safety Manager by Hamish B (Full Version)

A Day in the Life :: Environmental Health

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