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What is Environmental Health?
Environmental health is an area of study within science that examines environmental impacts on human health. Elements in the environment that can adversely impact human health include water, food, air, soil and their chemical, physical, & biological components. Environmental scientists or environmental engineers take great care to study, understand, analyze, and positively influence the environmental impact on our health.
Most Popular Studies in Environmental Health
Environmental health specialists are also known as environmental engineers and can specialize in a number of important fields of study to study and protect our health and well-being. The interdisciplinary area of study in environmental health can include the following disciplines:
- Issues involving water
- Wastewater management and treatment
- Managing contaminants in the natural & engineered world
- Solid waste and hazardous waste management
- Environmental fluid dynamics
- Heat, transport, and scaling mechanics of the land-atmosphere interface
- Dispersion of pollutants in the atmosphere
- Analysis of turbulent environmental flows
- Subsurface mathematical modeling & risk analysis
- Climate change analysis
- Land use impacts on the environment
- Biological signaling
- Estuary paleoecology
- Globalization and urbanization
Best Environmental Health Degrees
An array of options is available to students considering a degree in environmental health. In fact, programs range from an associate’s degree through a doctorate degree from accredited colleges and universities. You will find a summary of programs below to help you better understand the options that exist with the ability to quickly request information from top schools offering environmental health degrees online or in class.
Environmental Health Associate’s Degrees
An on-site or online degree in environmental health is a 2-year program for full-time students mixing general education courses with core classes. The general education classes typically include courses such as English, philosophy, creative writing, and sociology to help provide students with a well-rounded education. Core classes help students understand foundational elements of the environment coupled with human interactions in and with the world in which we live.
Environmental Health Bachelor’s Degrees
The online bachelor’s degree in environmental health is conferred as a Bachelor’s of Science (BS) or Bachelor of Arts (BA) depending on the program design. The bachelor degree is a 4-year program for full-time students providing more liberal arts classes and a greater number of core classes.
Examples of core curriculum in environmental health include statistics, ecosystem principles, human health & disease, environment principles, occupational health & safety, global management, environmental technology, and risk assessment. Students earning a BS or BA in environmental health will learn how to utilize software and technology to manage issues ranging from air pollution, hazardous waste, water pollution, solid waste, environmental economics, and their associated risks to humans.
Environmental Health Master’s Degrees
An on-site or online master’s degree in environmental health can be earned in one to two years of full-time matriculation. There are many schools that offer a combined bachelor’s degree and master’s degree (BS/MS or BS/MEng) that allow full-time students to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in environmental health in 5-years.
Several options exist in terms of degree options such as a Masters of Science (MS), Masters of Arts (MA), or Masters in Engineering (MEng). Students will perform a deep dive into an array of upper-level courses that may include: environmental law, policy development, environmental auditing, environmental systems, environmental communications, principles of pollution control, environmental risk assessment, emerging environmental technologies, water resource management, land use management, air quality management, and natural resources economics.
Environmental Health PhD
A doctorate degree in environmental health is conferred as a PhD and will take full-time students 4-6 years to complete. A large portion of the PhD program is the time invested in the dissertation project. Dissertation topics are vetted and approved by your advisor to address a series of key objectives through logical planning and substantive research to support the key hypotheses.
Coursework is often designed by the student and faculty advisor to critically examine subjects within the field of study to help advance the field of environmental health and/or environmental engineering. Students graduating with a doctorate degree will be equipped to continue performing research for public, private, or governmental agencies in the field.
Graduate Certificates in Environmental Health
A graduate certificate in environmental health is a tool utilized by qualifying students or working professionals to extend their body of knowledge, specialize in a new field of study, upskill, or prepare for a career change. From global health issues to environmental management specialties, a graduate certificate can provide a solid footing for careers in various fields from environmental law and emerging technologies to computer-based environmental risk assessments.
Employment in Environmental Health
A career in environmental health will require qualified individuals to review and assess physical locations, recognizing any environmental hazards as necessary, and to ensure that such hazards are safely contained. Various jobs are available to individuals with environmental health degrees, but all will involve recognizing or researching health concerns for individuals in relation to their environment. Government positions are available at the local, state and federal level, requiring the assessment of health risks of zones and buildings and reporting them to a centralized authority.
Research positions are open to individuals holding a master degree or higher. Research in environmental health involves individuals examining potential risks and developing methods to counter or avoid such risks in the future. Advancements in waste management, hazardous material clean-up and disposal and evolving environmental risks are just some of the areas that require perpetual research and refinement.
Environmental Health Salary Overview
The average salary for environmental health specialists is approximately $62,000 per year, though income can vary wildly based on experience, education, position and employer. Job growth is expected to increase faster than average due to the increased interest in the environment, including maintaining a healthy and clean environment for the purposes of health.
What Can I Do with An Environmental Health Degree?
A degree in environmental health will prepare individuals enrolled in such a program to understand the connection between human health and the environment. Students will study various environments and how they impact human physiology; learn about various toxins and other factors and how to test for them. Though degrees are available at the associate level, they are typically preparatory for bachelor's degrees. Entry level positions are available at the bachelor level, with research and teaching positions available at the master and doctoral level.
Resources in Environmental Health
Individuals interested in environmental health may also be interested in public health, health physics, environmental science, international public health, or wildlife management. The EPA has created a trove of information about the health of the environment and can be researched further on their blog.