Environmental Health Officer

Job Description:

Environmental health officers make sure people's surroundings (like public spaces, restaurants and organisations) are safe, healthy and hygienic.

Job Category:
Environmental Industry

What you will do:

You could work for a local authority, health or armed services, or a central government organisations (like the Food Standards Agency in the UK).

You could also work as an environmental health consultant in the private sector, advising businesses on environmental health law.

Depending on where you work, you could deal with a range of issues including:

  • food safety
  • environmental protection
  • noise, radiation and pollution control
  • water standards
  • health and safety at work
  • animal welfare
  • waste management
  • housing standards

You might specialise in one area, or deal with all environmental health issues in your local area or company.

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • inspecting businesses for health and safety, food hygiene and food standards
  • following up complaints and investigating outbreaks of food
  • poisoning, infectious disease or pests
  • collecting samples for laboratory testing
  • enforcing environmental health laws
  • investigating accidents at work
  • advising community groups and giving educational talks (leadership skills)
  • giving evidence in court
  • writing records and reports
  • advising employers on all environmental health matters


You’ll need:

  • legal knowledge including court procedures and government regulations
  • maths knowledge
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • analytical thinking skills
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations (adaptability skills)
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • organisational skills
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become an Environmental Health Officer (EHO), you will need a strong educational background in science and related subjects. EHOs play a crucial role in ensuring public health and safety by inspecting and regulating various aspects of the environment, including food safety, sanitation, and workplace conditions. Here are the recommended subjects and considerations:

  1. Science: High grades in science subjects, particularly Biology and Chemistry, are essential. Environmental Health Officers need to understand the scientific principles behind issues like food safety, pollution control, and infectious diseases.
  2. Mathematics: A good understanding of mathematics is important for data analysis, calculations, and statistical work in environmental health.
  3. English: Strong communication skills, both written and verbal, are crucial for writing reports, communicating with colleagues and the public, and presenting findings.
  4. Geography: Geography can provide valuable knowledge about physical landscapes, ecosystems, climate, and environmental processes, which are relevant to the field of environmental health.
  5. ICT (Information and Communication Technology): Proficiency in using digital tools and software is valuable for data management, reporting, and communication.
  6. Design and Technology (if available): Courses in design and technology can help you understand technology-related aspects of environmental health, such as food preparation and safety equipment.
  7. Business Studies (optional): Understanding basic business principles can be beneficial, as Environmental Health Officers often work with businesses to ensure compliance with regulations.

Post School

You’ll need:

  • an environmental health degree or postgraduate degree – in the UK this will need to be approved by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH)
  • to complete a period of work-based training
  • to keep an assessed portfolio

When you’ve completed these stages, you’ll achieve full qualification and be awarded the Certificate of Registration from the Environmental Health Registration Board.

You could start work as an environmental health technician and study for an environmental health foundation degree or degree while you’re working. You could also train and study with the armed forces.

Working Hours and Environment:

You’ll work between 35 and 40 hours per week, mostly Monday to Friday with some evening or weekend work on a rota basis.

You’ll have an office base but will spend most of your time out in the workplace or visiting businesses and homes.

Depending on the environment, you may need to wear protective clothing.

You’ll usually need a driving licence for this job.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience you could apply to the CIEH for Chartered Environmental Health Practitioner status.

In local government you could progress to senior, principal or chief environmental health officer.

You could also become a university lecturer.

There are other opportunities in the developing world and with private companies overseas.