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Careers in Environmental Health

written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 9/25/2009

This article details the Environmental Health industry. It discusses what registered environmental health specialists do and it also discusses the different areas in which they can be employed. It also talks about how to become a registered environmental health specialist.

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    Those who become wish to begin a career in environmental health need to first work towards becoming a Registered Environmental Health Specialist (REHS). The primary responsibility of a registered environmental health specialist is to work towards reducing the number of illnesses and injuries for the people that work, live and play in the community they are working in. They will enforce all applicable codes and regulations that impact the the safety and protection of the environment and public health within their communities and across the globe.

    Where do They Work?

    Registered environmental health specialists are employed throughout the United States as well as across the globe and they can choose to work in a private or a public sector. The environmental health industry covers a wide range of program areas and these include milk and dairy sanitation, food protection, emergency preparedness, housing, water sanitation, institutional environmental health, drinking water quality, land use, vector control, community noise control, on-site septic systems, recreational swimming areas and waters, underground storage tank control, solid, liquid and hazardous materials management and electromagnetic radiation control.

    How do I Become One?

    To become a registered environmental health specialist, most states require individuals to have a degree in science, typically specific to the area in which they wish to be employed, and some states, such as California, also require individuals to obtain an eligibility letter from the Department of Public Health in their state. Individuals will also have to have additional training in their area, complete a practical training logbook assessment and they will also need to pass professional exams.

    To obtain entry level status as a registered environmental healthy specialist one must obtain an undergraduate degree in Environmental Health. The degree programs will be very science-heavy and it is ideal to obtain an internship for relevant, real-life experience. There are currently eleven colleges and universities offering an undergraduate program in Environmental Health in the United States. It is recommended that those who wish to make a career in this field pursue a master's degree or higher.

    Some colleges and universities that offer an Environmental Health and Science Degree are:

    University of Michigan

    109 Observatory Street

    Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109


    Offers a BS in Environmental Health

    East Carolina University

    Environmental Health Sciences and Safety Program

    Carol Belk Building, 3rd Floor

    Greenville, North Carolina 27858


    Offers a BS and an MS in Environmental Health

    Those interested can obtain more information from the Association for Environmental Health at