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Environmental health officer

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Summary of occupation

Environmental health officers monitor and enforce public health and safety regulations. They carry out inspections at locations where food is kept to ensure that it is handled and stored in a safe and hygienic manner. They also test drinking water and monitor the quality of water in lakes, rivers, dams and pools to ensure there is no harmful bacteria present. Environmental health officers are responsible for ensuring that public buildings have adequate ventilation and easy access to fire escapes. Their duties may also include monitoring health concerns as diverse as air pollution, noise levels, housing standards, the spread of infectious diseases, pest control and poisons regulation.

ANZSCO description: Develops, enforces and evaluates environmental health policies, programs and strategies to improve health outcomes, and oversees the implementation and monitoring of environmental health legislation. Registration or licensing may be required.
Alternative names: Health Inspector
Specialisations: Food Safety Auditor, Food Safety Officer
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

An environmental health officer needs:

  • good communication skills
  • good interpersonal skills
  • to be firm and impartial when making decisions
  • good problem-solving skills
  • to be able to work both independently and as part of a team
  • honesty and integrity.
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Working conditions

The majority of environmental health officers are employed by local governments in locations all over Western Australia. At present, there is a strong demand for environmental health officers in regional areas. There are also opportunities to work for the Australian Defence Force, state and federal government agencies and large food processing companies. Environmental health officers usually have an office base, but spend most of their time conducting site visits. They carry out inspections at locations as diverse as restaurants, nightclubs, tattoo and beauty parlours as well as childcare facilities.

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Salary details

On average, environmental health officers, classified under occupational and environmental health professionals, can expect to earn between $1 500 and $1 999 per week ($78 000 and $103 000 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience.

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Tools and technologies

Environmental health officers use thermometers, sealed and sterile jars and other sampling equipment to monitor noise and light levels when carrying out site visits. When visiting unhygienic, unpleasant or potentially dangerous sites they may be required to wear protective clothing such as masks, gloves and hair nets. Environmental health officers must also use computers and general office equipment to keep detailed records of their work and any evidence to be used in legal proceedings.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become an environmental health officer you usually need to complete a degree majoring in environmental health.

Edith Cowan University offers a three year Bachelor of Health Science (Environmental Health). This is the only undergraduate degree specialising in environmental health available in Western Australia.

Alternatively, you can undertake a degree in a related discipline, followed by a postgraduate qualification in environmental health.

Some universities in Western Australia offer relevant postgraduate courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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