Career Advice

Steps to Becoming an Environmental Physician

Concerns about public health brought on by environmental dangers and contaminants are addressed by environmental physicians with significant understanding and remedies. The work has a wide variety of applications that can accommodate a variety of interests. Finding out more about the profession and the different specializations might help you decide if being an environmental physician is the appropriate career choice for you.

In this post, we define what an environmental physician is, go through some of their typical duties, and describe the process of becoming one.

What exactly is an environmental physician?

A medical professional with a focus on environmental health, a multidisciplinary area that examines how environmental aspects including air quality, soil conditions, and water management change people’s health, is known as an environmental physician. Environmental doctors frequently delve into a variety of environmental health topics, such as:

  • Air quality: Some environmental doctors concentrate on both indoor and outdoor air quality. They might examine contaminants, allergies, or toxins that can be found in the air, such as mold.
  • Chemicals: Environmental doctors may also take into account the risks that chemicals, like cancer-causing dioxin, pose to the public’s health. They might also search for the presence of toxic substances like lead, which some historic structures or items may contain in their paint or piping.
  • Waste: Some doctors concentrate on issues with hazardous and solid waste. Systems for removing, cleansing, or eliminating the trash that could endanger people’s health might be created by them.
  • Radiation: Radiological specialists assess radiation levels to decide whether present levels are safe for individuals. Environmental doctors with this specialty may assist in the aftermath of a nuclear catastrophe or measure radiation levels to make sure no one is exposed to more radiation than is safe.
  • Water: Another aspect of environmental medicine that a doctor of environmental medicine might investigate is the condition of the water. This covers both drinking water and pollutants that could be dangerous to communities and present in water bodies.
  • Noise: Some environmental doctors research the consequences of noise and create community-based noise reduction solutions. They could contribute to the creation of guidelines and policies governing noise levels in neighborhoods and workplaces.
  • Soil: To assess safety after pollution from industrial, farming, or trash, soil experts examine the soil. They might evaluate the safety of the soil to make sure it doesn’t endanger humans or future food sources.

What are environmental physicians responsible for?

Depending on their discipline and where they operate, environmental physicians might have a wide range of tasks. Here are a few typical tasks for environmental doctors:

  • Examining how certain environmental factors affect health
  • Evaluating patient health to identify any consequences of environmental dangers or current contaminants
  • Constructing mechanisms to address or resolve environmental public health issues
  • Identifying potential threats to human health from environmental health concerns
  • collecting information about environmental contaminants and public health
  • Providing patients and the general public with information on appropriate exposure and behavior
  • Establishing guidelines and procedures to help businesses maintain sufficient safety standards

Certified Environmental Health Specialist

For both public and private organizations, a Registered Environmental Health Specialist (REHS) oversees health and environmental activities. Coordinating inspection programs and checking a variety of facilities for adherence to environmental, safety, and health requirements are their key responsibilities. For instance, they examine toxic chemical transfer facilities, dumps, underground storage facilities, and drinking waterways. People who work for commercial businesses are frequently contract consultants or inspectors of facilities that manufacture food.

Environmental health experts assist keep employees healthy and happy in a world that is becoming more robotic and chemical-focused. They also assist in maintaining the safety of our nation’s supply of mass-produced food.

The Environmental Health Nurse

Occupational and environmental health nurses (OEHNs) assist employers in adhering to health and safety laws and identifying potential dangers. They also share some duties with physicians. They also frequently take on a case managerial position, coordinating the medical care given to sick and wounded workers. Additionally, they assist the workers they are assigned to with the benefits procedure.

Workers frequently receive health-related advice from nurses. While OEHNs may provide therapy for other issues like substance misuse, anxiety and stress, and other concerns, these counseling services are mainly meant for work-related diseases and injuries. They might also follow up with employees and make referrals to support services. Aside from promoting healthy practices, OEHNs also undertake health awareness campaigns. These employer-sponsored initiatives support the upkeep of a healthy, secure, and content workforce.

Physician for Environmental Health

Large corporations frequently hire environmental and occupational health doctors, who are then in charge of overseeing employee health. Clinicians identify, treat, and manage environmental and occupational illnesses as well as accidents at work. They must be familiar with workplace procedures and potential hazards for employee exposure to accomplish this. They might also be in charge of making sure that all safety rules at work are followed, like those set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

They must be qualified to evaluate a worker’s fitness for work because they might also be engaged in workers’ remuneration and disability decisions. Some occupational and environmental medicine doctors oversee worker health services and organize health awareness campaigns.

How to train as an environmental physician

Below are a few measures you can take if you want to become an environmental physician:

1. Determine your level of education

The educational requirements can be high if you want to be a doctor. For several years of rigorous schooling and training, students must finish to receive the recognized title of an environmental physician. An appropriate bachelor’s degree in a medical or scientific subject is required, after which graduate school, a resident program, and a board exam must be completed. By completing these processes, you can become certified as a doctor and find more career prospects.

Several environmental health professionals decide against becoming environmental health physicians and instead become environmental health practitioners. The educational prerequisites for this pathway can be far less rigorous even if you don’t possess the same qualifications as a professional medical professional. Consider earning a degree in medicine, chemistry, or environmental science if this is something that interests you. Your knowledge, abilities, and credentials for a job in environmental health can all grow as a result of this.

2. Decide on a specialty

Most environmental health doctors specialize in a particular field of study, depending on the road they took to get into the field. By specializing, you can more easily get in-depth knowledge of a subject and explore the areas that most interest you. Think about how you intend to put your knowledge and talents while selecting a specialty. Some environmental doctors might perform tests on samples and write reports while working in labs. Others may be employed in the field, visiting establishments or other locations to collect samples and evaluate the environment. Others might decide to work as consultants or with patients.

There may be specific educational requirements for various specialties. To find out what qualifications are typically needed for the careers that most interest you, think about searching job postings for those positions. This may have an impact on your academic interests and work environment. You can determine which aspect of environmental health you are most interested in by doing an internship in various environments.

3. Develop your environmental health expertise

You can improve your resume and identify the application of the profession that most interests you by getting experience. You can hunt for research or internship options with other experts in environmental health. Additionally, you can broaden your expertise and improve your résumé by using certifications, ongoing training, and career development resources.

4. Acquire necessary abilities

You can use a variety of abilities in your position as an environmental physician. The abilities that help you in your job could be special based on your area of expertise and professional goals. Here is a deeper examination of several abilities you might want to think about acquiring as you gain knowledge and continue your education:

  • Research abilities: Environmental health specialists may need to conduct tests and analyze results to make meaningful conclusions, therefore they can benefit greatly from having research abilities.
  • Organization skills: Environmentalists who are good at keeping track of pertinent documents, samples, and finished work can benefit from their organizational skills.
  • Communication abilities: As part of their work, environmental physicians frequently communicate with patients, entrepreneurs, and policymakers. Additionally, good communication skills can aid in report preparation, successful teamwork, and information dissemination.

5. Upgrade your resume

Update your CV to reflect your education, experience, and desired positions for environmental physicians. You can develop your content using certain job postings. This might make your resume appear more specialized and appropriate for particular jobs.

Where does an environmental physician work?

Environmental physicians sometimes work for big businesses that offer workers healthcare programs for their large workforces. Numerous others do disability determinations for organizations such as disability insurers, benefit organizations, and local and state health authorities. Some are employed by federal organizations that promote employee health, like OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Others hold consulting positions. Some of them work for the American military, where they oversee our troops’ (sometimes global) medical requirements.

What is the typical pay for an environmental physician?

As of May 2020, the median annual pay for environmental health professionals was $42,000. In this field, the top 10% made over $101,890, while the bottom 10% made roughly $33,720.

Job Opportunities & Descriptions in Environmental Health

A health hazard is evaluated by an environmental health officer in a variety of contexts, and they subsequently communicate their results and proposed solutions to interested parties. Although duties differ from job to job, the following list includes common job responsibilities an environmental health officer can face:

  • Identify, create, or improve secure, healthy, and accident-free workplace environments.
  • Give the location, factory, or environment technological health and safety support.
  • Establish environmental safety goals and objectives for staff members and management.
  • Overseeing and carrying out training courses for safety and health
  • By way of planning, programming, and data gathering, makes sure that your organization complies with worldwide regulatory safety systems like ISO-18001 and OSHA Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Star standards.
  • Ensure that all personnel and systems adhere to all applicable national, state, ISO, and business health and safety legislation and standards.
  • Create, implement, and oversee training and incentive programs that encourage staff to uphold a safe atmosphere.
  • Increase the level of safety consciousness among all parties involved and encourages their involvement with safety principles.
  • Promote safe behavior across the entire organization.
  • Analyze accident data to identify the underlying causes and put preventive measures in place
  • Issues, events, underlying causes, remedial action, and preventative measures that need to be taken should be documented. Stakeholders should be informed of the results and remedies.
  • All occurrences should be reported and documented to the proper employees and government bodies.
  • Take part in examinations of new products, processes, and sites to figure out the best environmental safety measures.
  • Gathering and reporting Statistics on Occupational Health and Safety
  • Ensure that all safety protocols and regulations are followed.
  • By using internal corporate resources and external publications, raise awareness of safety.
  • Make ensuring that all parties involved undertake and complete all safety training on schedule.

Senior environmental health officers are frequently more experienced and so naturally suited for management roles. Such obligations frequently consist of:

  • Make the department and the entire firm a positive and secure place to work.
  • Create project scopes, timetables, standards, and expenditures with the assistance of other divisions and team leads.
  • Navigate government guidelines, rules, and industry standards on the project’s behalf
  • Control the testing and calibration tools and equipment.
  • control recordkeeping, compliance, and the disposal of private documents
  • Make business plans for financial sources.
  • Make ensuring that field data is accurately tracked, organized, and quality-assured.
  • Prepare reports for management approval and submission to outside stakeholders.
  • Make a plan of action to redesign or improve processes to make them safer.
  • Consult with the site’s stakeholders
  • Oversee the fieldwork of various field crews, including surveys, site recordings, tests, monitoring, and data security.
  • Present team results and field status reports to external and internal stakeholders to engage them in the conversation.
  • Examine new developments in agriculture and technology.
  • Join panels that produce policies and regulations.
  • Join committees that produce research and instructional programs.

How can I become a certified environmental health professional?

Certified Environmental Health Specialist

The minimum educational need for environmental health professionals is a bachelor of science degree in a life science like microbiology, biology, or chemistry. It’s also crucial to have a strong foundation in mathematics, statistics, and calculus. The National Environmental Health Association offers the Registered Environmental Health Specialist/Registered Sanitarian (REHS/RS) certificate.

Nurse in Environmental Health

A nursing associate’s or bachelor’s degree is typically required for nursing professions. Gaining entry-level experience in this sector also requires practical nursing practice. A nurse must hold a license from the state where they work. For careers in this field, environmental and occupational health nursing certification is frequently necessary or at least desirable.

Physician for Environmental Health

Medical professionals who have completed med school are environmental health physicians.

  • Which types of societies and organizations are available to environmental health professionals?
  • The industry-recognized Registered Environmental Health Specialist/Registered Sanitarian (REHS/RS) certificate, which requires passing an exam, is administered by the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA). It also produces the Journal of Environmental Health, hosts an annual convention, and provides continuing education.
  • The Certified Occupational Health Nurse credential is managed by the American Body of Occupational Health Nurses (ABOHN), a board for nursing-specialized certification.
  • Nurses who want to learn more about environmental health might consult the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE). It provides publications on environmental health published by nurses and a network for nursing academics online. ANHE also manages online forums for discussion of climatic changes, fracturing, and public health.
  • The American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN) seeks to create safe and healthy working environments. It operates a job portal, delivers life and recorded webinars, hosts an annual conference that fosters networking, and produces the peer-reviewed journal Workplace Health and Safety.

Environmental health scientist versus environmental health specialist

Both of these professions deal with related issues and situations. Environmental health researchers, on the other hand, are more likely to concentrate on using the scientific approach to assist with challenging problem-solving. This could involve offering suggestions to public health officials, regulating environmental effects, and reclaiming polluted territory.

Registered Environmental Health versus Specialist Environmental Health Specialist

Inspections are often carried out by registered environmental health professionals (REHS) for the public or private sector. Additionally, persons who have earned the REHS certification have demonstrated their proficiency in environmental health problems by passing an exam. This certification may be required for some occupations, while others may give priority to candidates who have it.

Occupational health and safety versus Environmental health specialists

Specialists who are responsible for ensuring employee health and safety are known as occupational health and safety experts. They might concentrate on non-environmental concerns like personal protection equipment, fall protection, and safety signs. Environmental health professionals, on the other hand, concentrate on the health and happiness of people in environments other than the workplace. In contrast to occupational health and safety, this specialization examines population health on a bigger scale.


Particularly among municipal governments with sizable environmental health departments and well-established promotion channels to more senior positions, there are several prospects for professional growth.

Progress to more leadership levels will be possible with the achievement of chartered status and completion of predetermined levels of continued professional development (CPD).

Other opportunities include taking charge of a much bigger department, hiring additional built environment specialists, and alternating between working for local governments and the private sector to gain more experience and apply for senior jobs.

Working abroad and lecturing are both possibilities.

Frequently Asked Questions on environmental physicians

  • What position in environmental health has the highest salary?

Epidemiologists, Safety and Health Directors, and HS Engineers all have the highest salaries for those with a passion for environmental health. These experts offer knowledgeable oversight to businesses.

  • What does a practitioner of environmental health do?

Environmental health professionals are committed to safeguarding the public’s health by observing pollution levels and suggesting ways to lower them. They test the quantities of pollutants in the air, water, and soil as well as the levels of noise and radiation using specialist equipment.

  • Where do people who work in environmental health work?

To guide and uphold public health standards, environmental health specialists are typically hired by municipal, state, or federal health authorities. Many work in the military, the commercial sector, and other third-sector organizations including NGOs and charities.

  • Is there a professional course in environmental health?

Students who have completed an environmental health course have a solid foundation of skills and experience that they can apply to a variety of professional fields. Students who participate in these courses may go on to work as environmental consultants, managers of advocacy campaigns, or environmentalists.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *