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Environmental Health Specialist


Environmental Health Specialists are concerned with the environmental quality of a community and the health and safety of the workers in that community. They are responsible for enforcing local, state, and federal regulations that pertain to the sanitation of food and water, handling of hazardous and infectious wastes, and cleanliness and safety of housing and institutional environments. They may also be in charge of collecting and analyzing samples to determine if a hazard to public health exists. Environmental health specialists need to be comfortable with computers and other high tech devices because they may be called upon to prepare and calibrate the equipment used to collect and analyze the samples. Another major function of these specialists is to consult with and advise physicians and other medical personnel about potential community environmental health hazards. Environmental health specialists may specialize in milk and dairy production, food protection, sewage disposal, pesticide management, air and water pollution, hazardous waste disposal, occupational health, and wildlife health/management. These professionals need to possess good oral and written communication skills because they may have to conduct, analyze, and dispense epidemiologic data regarding disease outbreaks within a community. Individuals must also have good analytical and problem solving skills, work well with other people, and have a commitment to creating a safe environment.

Work Environment:


Environmental health specialists may work in state, county, or local health departments, hospitals, private businesses, wildlife parks, and environmental enforcement agencies. They are often employed as educators, consultants, and/or interpreters.

High School Preparation:


Students interested in becoming an environmental health specialist should take high school courses in algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, biology, chemistry, physics, English, literature, computer skills, and health occupations/medical professions education.

College Requirements:


Individuals interested in environmental health must have a high school diploma or the equivalent. Most environmental health specialists earn a bachelor’s degree in environmental health, but some have a degree in a related field such as biological/chemical sciences or environmental engineering. Career opportunities can be greatly advanced by earning a master’s or doctoral degree in this specialty. Optional certification may be obtained through the National Environmental Health Association.


Students interested in environmental health should contact schools for information on admission and course of study.

For educational institutions in Mississippi
offering this course of study click here.

Career Outlook:


Employment opportunities for environmental health specialists are expected to grow between 10% - 20% through the year 2012. Because the majority of environmental health specialists are employed by local, state, and federal agencies, job security is usually relatively high. With an increasing amount of environmental protection legislation being passed, demand for these health professionals should increase steadily well into the 21st century. Demand should also increase due to individuals retiring or leaving the profession for other reasons.




Average Annual Salary



Salary Range



Professional Organizations:


National Environmental Health Association

720 South

Colorado Blvd.

South Tower,

Suite 970

Denver, CO


Phone: (303) 756-9090

Fax: (303) 691-9490


National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

111 Alexander Drive

PO Box 12233

Research Triangle Park, NC 27709

Phone: (919) 541-3345


American Board of Industrial Hygiene

6015 West St. Joseph, Suite 102

Lansing, MI


Phone: (517) 321-2638

Fax: (517) 321-4624

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