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New York Health Careers

Environmental Health Workers

What Do Environmental Health Workers Do?

Environmental health workers protect the safety of a community through inspections, investigations, collection of specimens, dissemination of information, and policy development. Environmental health workers is a broad employment category and may include a number of different job occupations, each with different levels of education and training; such as environmental science and protection technicians (for information, click here), environmental engineers (click here), environmental scientists and specialists (click here), and occupational health and safety specialists (click here).

At the forefront of environmental health work, environmental science and protection technicians are an important professionals. They perform field and laboratory tests to monitor the environment and investigate sources of pollution, including those that affect health. Under direction of an environmental scientist or specialist, they may collect samples of gases, soil, water, and other materials for testing and take corrective actions as assigned.

Environmental science and protection technicians may also work with machines in analyzing chemical compounds and may document conditions they observe at food handling businesses. They also deal with disease-carrying animals or insects; environmental hazards (both in the community and in the home); food handling and production practices; hazardous material disposal; job safety; land use planning; public health epidemics; public swimming pools and beaches; children’s camps; water treatment and sewage systems; and water, land, and air pollution.

Where Do Environmental Science and Protection Technicians Work?

Environmental science and protection technicians primarily work in state and local government and county and local health departments. They also work with management, scientific, and technical consulting services. They may also work in factories, architectural and engineering companies, food processing plants, testing laboratories, wildlife preserves, and environmental oversight agencies.

What Do Environmental Science and Protection Technicians Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median annual salary for environmental science and protection technicians in New York in 2016 was $46,790, which was higher than the nationwide median annual salary of $44,190.

Supply and Demand

According to BLS projections for the period between 2014 and 2024, job openings for environmental science and protection technicians will increase 9.5% in the U.S. and by 21.7% in New York during the same time period.

For more information on projections of environmental health workers by New York State labor regions, click here.

New York Educational/Licensure Requirements

The educational requirements for environmental health workers vary. Environmental health workers working in government agencies may have more stringent requirements than those working in other locations. Most environmental science and protection technicians need an associate degree or two years of postsecondary training. Sometimes new technicians are trained on the job by more experienced environmental science and protection technicians. Higher level environmental health workers, such as environmental engineers and scientists need a bachelor’s degree with a substantial number of college credits in the sciences. The types of science courses required may differ depending on the specific area of interest or concentration. Master’s or doctoral degrees are available in environmental health, engineering, and science.

New York does not require licensure for environmental health workers.

Financial Support

In addition to scholarships offered at different schools, scholarships for environmental health workers are available from the National Environmental Health Association: http://www.neha.org/students/index.html.

Educational Programs in New York (subject to change)

Columbia University
Mailman School of Public Health
722 West 168th Street
Rosenfield Building, 11th floor
New York, NY 10032-0403
(212) 305-3464 or (212) 305-3466
New York Medical College
School of Health Sciences and Practice
Valhalla, NY 10595
(914) 594-4253
Rochester Institute of Technology
College of Applied Science and Technology
Building 82, Room 3107
One Lomb Memorial Drive
Rochester, NY 14623-5603
(585) 475-2411
State University of New York at Albany
School of Public Health
Department of Environmental Health Sciences
Wadsworth Center, C-236
Empire State Plaza, P.O. Box 509
Albany, NY 12201-0509
(518) 473-7553 or (518) 402-0283
University at Buffalo
State University of New York

212D Ketter Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260
(716) 645-2114
SUNY Downstate Medical Center
School of Public Health

450 Clarkson Avenue, Box 43
Brooklyn, NY 11203
(718) 270-1061 or (718) 270-1065
Hunter College
School of Urban Public Health

City University of New York
2180 Third Ave
New York, NY 10035
(212) 396-7729

Additional Web Links

For more information about environmental health workers, please visit these websites:

American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists: http://www.aaees.org/

American Academy of Sanitarians: www.sanitarians.org

American Public Health Association: www.apha.org

Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors: http://www.aeesp.org/

National Environmental Health Association: www.neha.org

New York State Public Health Association: http://nyspha.roundtablelive.org/

Public Health Association of New York City: http://www.phanyc.org/

Public Health Online:  www.publichealthonline.org/careers.

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