Environmental Health Officer

Environmental health officers are responsible for carrying out measures to protect public health, including administering and enforcing provincial legislation related to environmental health and providing support to minimize health and safety hazards. They work to identify, mitigate and control risks to people, property, the environment and the organization through the daily administration and maintenance of the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) program at a worksite. In an emergency, environmental health officers are expected to coordinate the emergency response plan, provide advice during the event and conduct follow-up investigations.

At a Glance

Imagine you work in a small mining town in the middle of one of the world’s richest deposits of silver, lead, and zinc. For several years, many residents have exhibited symptoms of lead poisoning. Environmental testing has confirmed elevated levels of lead in soil and water samples from the area. As the local environmental health officer, your work is to minimize health risks and protect the public while these contaminants are cleaned up.

You and your colleagues have developed a lead management program for the town that will educate residents on the health risks associated with lead and strategies for avoiding lead poisoning. One of your primary responsibilities is to implement the new lead management program.

As part of the program, community screening centres have been set up where residents can be screened for high lead levels in their blood. While they are there, you answer their questions and offer advice on safe practices that will minimize exposure to lead, particularly for families with small children.

On other days, you visit residents at home to help them identify potential sources and pathways whereby lead can enter the body. You also take soil and drinking water samples from homes, which will be analyzed for lead content as part of the ongoing monitoring process.

Part of the program also has you using local media sources to educate residents about the symptoms and treatment for lead poisoning, as well as strategies for decreasing their exposure to and intake of lead.

To learn more about Environmental Health Officers, check out our Day in the Life video below!

Job Duties

Job duties can vary from one position to the next, but in general, environmental health officers are involved in the following activities:

  • Monitor the natural environment to identify sources of pollution.
  • Identify risk factors and inform decision-makers of potential project risks.
  • Develop, implement and evaluate health and safety programs and strategies
  • Develop and maintain hygiene programs, such as noise surveys, continuous atmosphere monitoring, ventilation surveys, or asbestos management plans.
  • Evaluate workplace environments, equipment, and practices to ensure compliance with safety standards and government regulations.
  • Recommend measures to help protect workers from potentially hazardous work methods, processes, or materials.
  • Investigate health and safety-related complaints, spills of hazardous chemicals, outbreaks of diseases or poisonings and workplace accidents.
  • Collaborate with engineers or physicians to institute control or remedial measures for hazardous or potentially hazardous conditions or equipment.
  • Initiate enforcement procedures to fine or to close an establishment contravening municipal, provincial or federal regulations.
  • Provide consultation and deliver training programs to employers, employees and the general public on issues of public health, environmental protection or workplace safety.

Work Environment

Environmental health officers work in a variety of locations, including:

The office:

  • Doing paperwork and analyzing data for reporting
  • Preparing inspection and assessment results
  • Communicating on the phone and in meetings with clients, colleagues, government officials, and the public, and presenting inspections and assessment results to clients
  • Developing public information campaigns on health issues

The field:

  • Conducting inspections or assessments
  • Investigating complaints from the public and disease reports
  • Implementing control measures
  • Collecting food, water, air, and soil samples
  • Making presentations on health issues to clients and the public

Where to Work

There are several places to find work as an environmental health officer. They include:

  • Federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal governments
  • Health units
  • Private industry, for example, food production and manufacturing
  • Self-employed consultant

Search for jobs on the ECO Canada Job Board.

Education and Skills


If you are a high school student considering a career as an environmental health officer, you should have a strong interest in:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • English

If you’re a post-secondary student considering a career as an environmental health officer, you must complete an environmental health program in one of the following areas:

  • Food sciences
  • Environmental studies
  • Chemistry
  • Health and Safety

In most cases, the minimum education requirement to work as an environmental health officer is a university undergraduate degree.

In order to work as an environmental health officer, you must be certified by the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors (CIPHI). The certification process includes field placement and written and oral exams.

Our Environmental Professional (EP) designation can also help you progress in your chosen environmental career.


Technical Skills

  • Knowledge of environmental legislation and regulations
  • Environmental Health and Safety program development
  • Risk assessment and management
  • Environmental sampling and analysis
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Emergency response and preparedness
  • Vector control
  • Waste management

Personal and Professional Skills

  • Active listening
  • Critical thinking
  • Oral and written communication
  • Time management
  • Attention to detail
  • Tact

Environmental employers seek professionals who combine technical knowledge with personal and professional skills. Watch our free webinar “Essential Not Optional: Skills Needed to Succeed in Canada’s Environmental Industry” or take our Essential Skills courses.

Role Models

David Montour

I worked as a canoe coach for two summers. During my duties on the water, I watched environmental health workers throughout the summer. Their work seemed fun and interesting. The following summer, I was hired as a Community Health Representative trainee to work specifically in environmental health. I worked fulltime in that position for two years. My community, Kahnawake, wanted to have a local Environmental Health Coordinator and the opportunity was posted.

I applied and was chosen for the position. The community offered to pay for part of my education, if I was going to return to Kahnawake. Thanks to their partial funding, I completed my Bachelor of Applied Science from Ryerson University and returned to my community to work fulltime as the Environmental Health Officer. I am currently enrolled in a graduate diploma program in administration at Concordia University. I plan to transfer to a Masters in Business Administration upon completion of the diploma. I am not sure what kind of job I want twenty or thirty years from now.

I think that life is about learning. My life has been a process. I didn’t wake up one day and decide what I would do for the rest of my life. I do know that I want to work for and within my community to improve the health and well being of Kahnawake. I’m from this community, and I know what we need. I want us to have the knowledge and autonomy to make decisions on our own.

Your Impact

Environmental health officers keep our water, food, air, land, facilities, and other environmental factors safe from health hazards, whether biological, chemical, or physical. They also address the related factors that impact behaviours.

They also play a vital role in community projects concerning health promotion, health equity,

healthy built environments/healthy communities, food security, and emergency preparedness.

Environmental health officers engage with local communities and empower them to participate in environmental conservation actively. They hold individuals and industries accountable for their environmental impact by enforcing environmental laws and regulations. They also investigate environmental health hazards in various settings and take action to mitigate or eliminate them.

They may assess and control environmental factors affecting health, work to prevent disease, and create health-supportive environments.

Occupational Classification

Environmental health officers are classified in the following occupational grouping:


NOC Code: 21120 – Public and environmental health and safety professionals

What is an NOC Code?

The National Occupation Classification (NOC) provides a standardized language for describing the work performed by Canadians in the labour market. It gives statisticians the labour market analysts, career counsellors, employers, and individual job seekers a consistent way to collect data and describe and understand the nature of work within different occupations.

ECO Canada Logo

Site en cours de développement

Nous travaillons actuellement sur la version française du site que nous espérons lancer très bientôt!

Merci pour votre patience et compréhension pendant que nous finalisons la version améliorée du site.

Website in Development

We are working to launch the French site very soon!

Thank you for your patience while we finalize the new and improved version of our website.