Whether visiting illegal backyard drug labs or the local café, the job of an environmental health officer is a varied one. And the good news is, there’s strong demand for professionals in the area.
Environmental health officers help to keep people safe. This includes testing water quality, ensuring food is handled hygienically and, yes, checking that houses used to produce illicit drugs are safe for occupation after police have finished their investigation.
Local and State governments are big employers of environmental health officers and they are always on the lookout for talented graduates, said Environmental Health Australia WA president Vic Andrich.
“While food safety is an important job, environmental safety is a very varied occupation, because you essentially have responsibility for anything that could adversely affect human health,” he said.
“One area you may not think environmental health plays a role is in cleaning up after clandestine drug laboratories.
“Once the police have gathered their evidence, the house needs to be made safe for people to live in again, which involves ensuring there are no residual chemicals around the house that could harm people’s health.”
Mr Andrich said as well as governments, environmental health officers were in demand in the food industry.
“At every level of food production, from the farm to the plate, there is a need for environmental health professionals,” he said.
Fully accredited courses
ECU’s Bachelor of Health Science offers qualifications in this area through the Environmental Health major, which recently received full accreditation. It is the only undergraduate course in WA and only one of five nationally to be fully accredited.
This, along with the accreditation recently granted to the Occupational Safety and Health major, gives ECU graduates the edge in the job market according to Head of School of Exercise and Health Science Associate Professor Annette Raynor.
“This makes ECU the only Australian university with fully accredited undergraduate courses in both environmental health and occupational safety and health,” she said.
“There is currently a high demand for people with skills in environmental safety and occupational safety.
“These accreditations are the result of ECU’s strong links with industry.”
Jobs in the community
Antoinette Hays recently started working as an Environmental Health Officer for the City of Swan. She graduated with a Bachelor of Health Science majoring in Environmental Health.
Ms Hays was attracted to the varied nature of the work as well as the good job prospects in the field.
“No two days are the same in this job which suits me well. A lot of the time you are out on the road meeting people which I also enjoy,” she said.
If you’re interested in studying Health Science at ECU, visit our Exercise and Health Science web page.
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