Professionals in environmental health use their scientific and technical expertise to ensure that people may live, work, and play in safe and healthy environments.
As an apprentice environmental health officer, you will develop, implement, and enforce health policies while using specialised technical skills and experience to maintain and defend people’s health and well-being standards.
Depending on your company, you may need to communicate with individuals from municipal agencies and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Throughout your apprenticeship, you may help:
- inspect businesses for health and safety, food hygiene and food standards
- follow up complaints and investigate outbreaks of food poisoning, infectious disease or pests
- collect samples for laboratory testing
- enforce environmental health laws
- investigate accidents at work
- advise community groups and give educational talks
- give evidence in court
- write records and reports
- advise employers on all environmental health matters.
- Typical starting salary for an apprentice is £25,000.
- Senior or managerial level salaries, e.g. after ten to 15 years in the role, fall between £38,000 and £60,000.
- Higher salaries may be possible in more advanced posts, such as head of department.
You’ll usually work Monday to Friday, 35 to 40 hours a week. However, given the nature of the job, evening or weekend work may be necessary at times.
You could work in an office, at a client’s business or in a court.
Your working environment may be dirty and you’ll travel often.
You may need to wear protective clothing.
Qualifications you can achieve as an apprentice environmental health officer include:
- Level 6 Healthcare Science Practitioner – Entry requirements for this level include 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship.
This typically takes 48 months to complete as a mix of on the job training and academic study at an approved university.
On an environmental health officer apprenticeship, you’ll learn:
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- thinking and reasoning skills
- excellent verbal communication skills
- legal knowledge including court procedures and government regulations
- analytical thinking skills
- maths knowledge
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently.
You can find work as an environmental health practitioner with the following employers:
- local authorities
- central government and its agencies
- the Armed Forces
- private consultancies – for experienced EHPs.
After completing your apprenticeship, you will begin the registration process, followed by placement and building a portfolio that includes all five areas of environmental health.
The practical training component may be achieved via a planned training placement with a local government or by gaining experience from other connected organisations.
As part of the portfolio, candidates must complete several interventions, learn new skills, and report on their experiences.
In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, CIEH-accredited courses are necessary. If you successfully finish the course, your name will be added to the CIEH registry of certified environmental health practitioners.
In Scotland, the REHIS is the certification body for environmental health practitioners. You will be awarded the REHIS Diploma in Environmental Health, which is required to become an environmental health officer.
In Ireland, the Environmental Health Association of Ireland offers career and training information.
Maintaining one’s professional position necessitates continuous professional growth (CPD). Therefore, every year, all practising CIEH members must complete a set amount of CPD hours, which includes attending courses, seminars, and conferences where other key skills, such as management training, may be developed.
There are several growth opportunities, especially in local governments with large environmental health departments and well-established promotion pathways to higher-level posts.
Obtaining chartered status and fulfilling agreed-upon levels of continuing professional development (CPD) will enable promotion to more senior roles.
Other prospects include becoming the head of a much larger department, recruiting other built environment professionals, and moving between local governments and the private sector to get more experience and further your career.
There is also the opportunity to lecture and work overseas.