The air we breathe; the water we drink; the land we build on and the homes we live in… numerous elements of our natural and man-made environment have the potential to affect our health.
Complex interactions between human genetics and our physical surroundings can give rise to a variety of diseases and health conditions – including asthma, cancer, and food poisoning. Environmental health sciences professionals improve public health by focusing all their efforts on identifying and addressing these environmental risk factors.
This is a wide-ranging, complex, and multifaceted profession, spanning chemistry, toxicology and engineering, among other disciplines. It also involves collaboration with and reliance upon other professionals, including chemists, geologists, biologists, meteorologists, physicists, physicians and engineers.
If you love science, are good at seeing “the big picture,” and tend to be a team player, this could be the perfect health career for you.
With a degree in environmental health, you can work in a wide range of jobs and work settings. For instance, you may work for an environmental health-related agency of the federal government, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH at CDC), the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Salary Range and Outlook
In the wake of recent man-made and natural disasters, the US is placing a high priority on building up the nation’s public health workforce. Since 2002, Federal funding has increased for public health preparedness, including scholarship and loan repayment programs, workforce development grants, and funding for emergency preparedness. What does this mean for you? It means that with a degree in public health, you’ll be in high demand—and on a career path filled with advancement opportunities.
Because environmental health is so broad in scope, it is often broken down by the type of risk factors you will focus upon in your career:
- Air quality
- Food protection
- Radiation protection
- Solid waste management
- Hazardous waste management
- Water quality
- Noise control
- Environmental control of recreational areas
- Housing quality
- Vector control
The Schools of Public Health Application Service (SOPHAS) is the centralized, online application service for all applicants applying to an accredited school of public health. To find accredited schools of public health with environmental health science programs, see the Association of Schools & Programs Public Health website.
Learn More About a Career in Environmental Health Sciences
- National Environmental Health Science and Protection Accreditation Council
- Council on Education for Public Health
- American Public Health Association
- National Environmental Health Association