Steps to Become an Environmental Health Specialist

Steps to Become an Environmental Health Specialist

If you’re passionate about the environment and want to make a difference in the health and well-being of others, becoming an environmental health specialist might be the right profession for you. Environmental health specialists play a crucial role in ensuring that our surroundings are safe and free from hazardous conditions. They work in a wide range of settings, from government agencies to casinos, researching and enforcing regulations to protect public health.

To become an environmental health specialist, there are several steps you need to take. First and foremost, you’ll need to earn a bachelor’s degree in environmental health or a related field. This will provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills to pursue a career in this field. You might also want to consider earning a master’s degree, as it can increase your job prospects and earning potential.



Once you have your degree, the next step is to apply for an environmental health specialist position. Many government agencies, such as the US Public Health Service (USPHS), offer job opportunities in this field. You can also explore positions in the private sector, such as working for environmental consulting firms or in the gaming industry. If you’re interested in working as an environmental health specialist in a casino, for example, you’ll need to learn about the specific regulations and expectations for this category of work.

After you’ve found a job that suits your interests and goals, you’ll need to go through the application process. This typically involves submitting a resume, cover letter, and any other required documents. You may also need to undergo an initial interview and background check. Once you’ve been offered a position, you can expect to undergo additional training and on-the-job experience to become proficient in your role.

As an environmental health specialist, you can expect to work in a variety of settings and perform a wide range of tasks. Some common responsibilities include conducting inspections, assessing environmental hazards, and enforcing regulations. You may also be involved in research and data analysis to identify potential health risks and develop strategies to mitigate them. This job requires a high level of attention to detail and the ability to make efficient and effective decisions.

Step 4: Obtain Environmental Health Certifications

Once you have completed the necessary education and gained some experience in the field of environmental health, the next step is to obtain environmental health certifications. These certifications are important as they demonstrate your knowledge and skills in this specialized field, and they can greatly enhance your career opportunities.



There are various certifications available for environmental health specialists, and it is important to research and choose the right certification that aligns with your career goals and interests. Some of the popular certifications include:

1. Certified Environmental Health Professional (CEHP)

The CEHP certification is offered by the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) in the United States. This certification is widely recognized and demonstrates that you have met the national standards for environmental health practice. To earn this certification, you must have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in environmental health or a related field, and you must pass the CEHP examination.

2. Registered Environmental Health Specialist/Registered Sanitarian (REHS/RS)

The REHS/RS certification is offered by various state and local agencies in the United States. The requirements for this certification vary by state, but generally, you must have a bachelor’s degree in environmental health or a related field, and you must pass the REHS/RS examination. This certification is highly regarded and can open up a wide range of career opportunities.



3. Canadian Registered Safety Professional (CRSP)

If you are based in Canada, you might consider pursuing the CRSP certification. This certification is offered by the Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals (BCRSP) and demonstrates your knowledge and skills in the field of occupational health and safety. To earn this certification, you must have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, at least 3 years of experience in occupational health and safety, and you must pass the CRSP examination.

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These are just a few examples of the certifications available for environmental health specialists. It is important to explore all the available options and choose the certification that best suits your career goals and interests.

Each certification has its own eligibility requirements and examination process, so it is important to carefully review and meet these requirements before applying. Some certifications may also require you to complete continuing education courses or participate in professional development activities to maintain your certification.

So, if you are serious about becoming an environmental health specialist, make sure to research and choose the right certification for you. Take the necessary steps to meet the eligibility requirements, prepare for the certification exam, and successfully pass the exam. This will ensure that you are well-equipped to excel in your career and make a positive impact on the environment and public health.

Research Available Certifications

When considering a career as an environmental health specialist, it is important to research the available certifications in the field. These certifications can provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills to work in various settings and perform important tasks related to environmental health.

There are several certifications that you can pursue to become an environmental health specialist. Each certification has its own set of requirements and focuses on different aspects of the field. It is important to understand what each certification entails and how it can benefit your career.

One common certification for environmental health specialists is the Registered Environmental Health Specialist/Registered Sanitarian (REHS/RS) certification. This certification is offered by the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) and is recognized as a standard for environmental health professionals.

Another certification option is the Certified Environmental Health Technician (CEHT) certification. This certification is offered by the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) and is designed for individuals who have less experience or education in the field of environmental health.

There are also certifications available in specific areas of environmental health, such as the Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) certification, which focuses on occupational health and safety, and the Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM) certification, which focuses on hazardous materials management.

When researching certifications, consider your career goals and the specific areas of environmental health that you are interested in. This will help you choose the certification that is best suited to your needs and will provide you with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in your career.

It is also important to consider the eligibility requirements for each certification. Some certifications may require a bachelor’s degree in a related field, while others may have additional requirements such as work experience or specific coursework. Make sure to review the eligibility requirements for each certification to ensure that you meet the necessary criteria.

Once you have chosen the certification that you want to pursue, you will need to go through the application process. This process typically involves submitting an application, providing documentation of your education and experience, and paying the required fees. It is important to carefully follow the instructions provided by the certification board to ensure that your application is complete and accurate.

After your application has been reviewed and approved, you will need to prepare for the certification exam. This may involve studying the relevant material, attending review courses or workshops, and practicing sample questions. It is important to dedicate enough time and effort to your exam preparation to increase your chances of success.

Once you are ready, you can take the certification exam. This exam will test your knowledge and skills in the field of environmental health and will determine whether you have met the requirements to become a certified environmental health specialist. Passing the exam is an important milestone in your career and will open up new opportunities for you in the field.

Choosing the Right Certification as an Environmental Health Specialist

When it comes to becoming an environmental health specialist, there are several certifications that you can consider. It is important to choose the right certification that aligns with your career goals and interests. Here are some factors to consider when selecting a certification:

1. Research Available Certifications

Start by researching the different certifications that are available in the field of environmental health. Look into the requirements, content, and benefits of each certification to determine which ones are most relevant to your career aspirations.

2. Consider National Certifications

There are several national certifications that you can pursue as an environmental health specialist. For example, the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) offers the Registered Environmental Health Specialist/Registered Sanitarian (REHS/RS) credential. This certification is widely recognized and respected in the industry.

3. Explore Specialized Certifications

In addition to national certifications, there are also specialized certifications that you can consider. These certifications focus on specific areas of environmental health, such as food safety or water quality. Research these specialized certifications to determine if any align with your interests and career goals.

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4. Evaluate Eligibility Requirements

Each certification has its own eligibility requirements that you must meet in order to pursue it. Take the time to carefully evaluate these requirements to ensure that you are eligible to apply for the certification. This may include having a certain level of education or work experience in the field.

5. Consider the Certification Exam

Find out what the certification exam entails and how it is structured. Consider your strengths and weaknesses in relation to the exam content. If you feel confident in certain areas and need to brush up on others, you can tailor your study plan accordingly.

6. Seek Advice from Professionals

If you are unsure which certification to pursue, consider seeking advice from professionals in the field. Reach out to environmental health specialists and ask them about their experiences with certifications. They may be able to offer insights and recommendations based on their own career paths.

By carefully considering these factors, you can choose the right certification that will enhance your skills and expertise as an environmental health specialist. Remember, certifications can open doors to new opportunities and demonstrate your commitment to the field.

Step 5: Meet the Eligibility Requirements

In order to become an Environmental Health Specialist, you must meet certain eligibility requirements. These requirements may vary depending on the certification you choose to pursue.

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Most environmental health specialist certifications require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree in environmental health or a related field. This degree provides the necessary foundation of knowledge and skills needed to work in this profession. It typically includes coursework in biology, chemistry, epidemiology, and environmental science.

Gain Work Experience

Many certifications also require candidates to have a certain amount of work experience in the field of environmental health. This experience can be obtained through internships, part-time jobs, or full-time employment. It is important to gain hands-on experience in order to apply the knowledge learned in the classroom to real-world situations.

Research Available Certifications

Before applying for a certification, it is important to research the available options. Different certifications may have different eligibility requirements, so it is important to find the one that best aligns with your education and experience. Visit the websites of certification boards to learn more about the specific requirements for each certification.

Apply for the Certification

Once you have identified the certification you want to pursue and ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements, you can apply for the certification. This typically involves submitting an application form, providing documentation of your education and work experience, and paying an application fee.

Prepare for the Certification Exam

After your application has been approved, you will need to prepare for the certification exam. This exam assesses your knowledge and skills in the field of environmental health. It is important to study and review the material covered in your bachelor’s degree program, as well as any additional resources recommended by the certification board.

Take and Pass the Certification Exam

The final step in becoming a certified Environmental Health Specialist is to take and pass the certification exam. This exam tests your understanding of environmental health principles, regulations, and best practices. It is important to study and review the material thoroughly in order to ensure success on the exam.

By meeting the eligibility requirements and successfully passing the certification exam, you can become a certified Environmental Health Specialist. This certification not only increases your earning potential and career opportunities, but also demonstrates your commitment to protecting the environment and promoting public health.

Preparing for the Certification Exam

Once you have chosen the right environmental health certification, it is important to prepare thoroughly for the certification exam. This exam is designed to assess your knowledge and skills in the field of environmental health, and passing it is a crucial step towards becoming a certified specialist.

Here are some steps you can take to ensure that you are well-prepared for the certification exam:

  1. Research the Exam Content: Start by familiarizing yourself with the content and format of the certification exam. Find out what topics will be covered and what types of questions you can expect. This will help you focus your study efforts and develop a study plan.
  2. Gather Study Materials: Collect study materials such as textbooks, reference guides, online resources, and practice exams. These resources will provide you with the necessary information and practice questions to help you prepare for the exam.
  3. Create a Study Schedule: Develop a study schedule that suits your needs and allows you to allocate dedicated time for exam preparation. Set specific goals for each study session and track your progress to ensure that you are covering all the necessary topics.
  4. Review Key Concepts: Focus on understanding and reviewing key concepts related to environmental health. Make sure you have a solid understanding of topics such as environmental regulations, risk assessment, pollution control, and public health principles.
  5. Practice with Sample Questions: Take advantage of practice exams and sample questions to familiarize yourself with the format of the certification exam. This will help you become comfortable with the types of questions you might encounter and improve your test-taking skills.
  6. Seek Additional Resources: If you need further clarification or assistance with specific topics, consider reaching out to experts in the field or joining study groups. Utilizing additional resources can enhance your understanding and provide valuable insights.
  7. Stay Calm and Confident: As the exam date approaches, it is important to stay calm and confident in your abilities. Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and positive visualization, to manage any exam-related stress. Trust in your preparation and believe in yourself.
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By following these steps and dedicating sufficient time and effort to your exam preparation, you will increase your chances of success. Remember to stay focused, stay motivated, and stay committed to your goal of becoming a certified environmental health specialist.

Step 7: Take and Pass the Certification Exam

Once you have completed all the necessary steps to become an environmental health specialist, the final step is to take and pass the certification exam. This exam is designed to test your knowledge and understanding of environmental health regulations, practices, and procedures.

Before taking the exam, it is important to thoroughly prepare. Start by reviewing the material covered in your environmental health courses and any study guides or textbooks recommended by your program. Take the time to understand key concepts, regulations, and best practices.

You may also want to consider taking practice exams or participating in study groups to further enhance your knowledge and test-taking skills. This will help you become familiar with the format and types of questions you can expect on the actual exam.

On the day of the exam, be sure to arrive early and bring all necessary supplies, such as identification and any required documentation. Follow any instructions provided by the exam proctors and make sure to pace yourself throughout the exam to ensure you have enough time to answer all the questions.

After completing the exam, you will typically receive your results within a few weeks. If you pass, congratulations! You are now a certified environmental health specialist. If you do not pass, don’t be discouraged. Use your exam results as a learning opportunity and identify areas where you can improve. You may be able to retake the exam after a certain waiting period.

Once you have obtained your certification, you can explore various career opportunities in environmental health. Many environmental health specialists work for government agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or local health departments. Others may find employment in private consulting firms, research institutions, or non-profit organizations.

Environmental health specialists are responsible for ensuring the safety and well-being of individuals and communities by identifying and addressing environmental hazards. They may inspect facilities, investigate complaints, and enforce regulations to protect public health. Their work is crucial in preventing and mitigating the impact of hazardous substances and conditions on the environment and human health.

As an environmental health specialist, you can expect a competitive salary and opportunities for growth. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for environmental scientists and specialists was $71,360 in May 2020. However, salaries can vary depending on factors such as experience, location, and employer.

In addition to a competitive salary, environmental health specialists often enjoy benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off. They may also have access to professional development opportunities, allowing them to expand their knowledge and skills in the field.

If you are passionate about the environment and want to make a difference in the world, becoming an environmental health specialist may be the right career path for you. Take the time to research available certifications, choose the right one for your goals, and meet the eligibility requirements. Prepare for the certification exam and take it with confidence. Once you pass, you will be ready to embark on a rewarding career in environmental health.

FAQ

What certifications can I earn to become an environmental health specialist?

There are several certifications that you can earn to become an environmental health specialist. Some of the most common certifications include the Registered Environmental Health Specialist (REHS) certification, the Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM) certification, and the Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) certification.

How do I earn the Registered Environmental Health Specialist (REHS) certification?

To earn the Registered Environmental Health Specialist (REHS) certification, you will need to meet certain education and experience requirements set by the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA). You will also need to pass the REHS exam, which tests your knowledge and skills in various areas of environmental health. Once you meet all the requirements and pass the exam, you will be awarded the REHS certification.

What are the benefits of earning certifications as an environmental health specialist?

Earning certifications as an environmental health specialist can provide several benefits. Firstly, certifications can enhance your professional credibility and demonstrate your expertise in the field. They can also increase your job prospects and open up new career opportunities. Additionally, certifications often come with networking opportunities and access to resources and continuing education, allowing you to stay updated with the latest developments in environmental health.

Are there any prerequisites for earning certifications as an environmental health specialist?

The prerequisites for earning certifications as an environmental health specialist vary depending on the specific certification. Some certifications may require a certain level of education, such as a bachelor’s degree in environmental health or a related field. Others may have experience requirements, where you need to have worked in the field for a certain number of years. It is important to check the specific requirements for each certification you are interested in pursuing.

Dave Pennells

By Dave Pennells

Dave Pennells, MS, has contributed his expertise as a career consultant and training specialist across various fields for over 15 years. At City University of Seattle, he offers personal career counseling and conducts workshops focused on practical job search techniques, resume creation, and interview skills. With a Master of Science in Counseling, Pennells specializes in career consulting, conducting career assessments, guiding career transitions, and providing outplacement services. Her professional experience spans multiple sectors, including banking, retail, airlines, non-profit organizations, and the aerospace industry. Additionally, since 2001, he has been actively involved with the Career Development Association of Australia.