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Environmental Health Officer

A U.S. Navy Environmental Health Officer conducting tests in the lab

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Navy Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) focus on the prevention and control of diseases in Navy and Marine Corps populations. In this role, your responsibilities may include:

  • Determining effective methods of assessing threats to public health
  • Conducting ongoing disease and environmental surveillance
  • Identifying potential dangers and developing countermeasures for actual and potential threats
  • Providing guidance to Commanding Officers on matters relating to public health and sanitation
  • Championing essential programs that protect public health and promote sanitary practices
  • Earning a nationally recognized credential as a Registered Environmental Health Specialist (REHS) from the National Environmental Health Association

This role covers many areas of specialization. As an EHO, your work may focus on:

  • Food service sanitation and safety
  • Public health sanitation
  • Water and wastewater safety in both ashore and afloat environments
  • Communicable disease control
  • Risk communication
  • Biostatistical and epidemiological threat assessment
  • Thermal stress control
  • Vector control
  • Preventive medicine
  • Disease outbreak prevention and investigation
  • Bioterrorism defense

Work Environment

Navy Environmental Health Officers may serve at any one of more than 250 Navy and medical facilities around the globe, from Hawaii to Japan, Germany to Guam, and Washington, D.C. to Washington state.

As an EHO, you could work at one of the highly acclaimed National Naval Medical Centers in Bethesda, MD; Portsmouth, VA; and San Diego, CA. Or you could provide support to pilots and air crews aboard one of two dedicated hospital ships, the USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy. You could even conduct research at the Navy Environmental Health Center (NEHC) in Portsmouth, VA.

Training & Advancement

Upon completion of college or graduate school, those pursuing an Environmental Health Officer position are required to attend Officer Development School (ODS) in Newport, RI. ODS is a five-week program that provides a comprehensive and intense introduction to the responsibilities of Navy Staff Corps Officers. Here they learn about the military structure of the U.S. Navy, its rich history of traditions and customs, leadership development and military etiquette.

Once training is complete, you may be assigned to a Naval Medical Center, a dedicated hospital ship, or the Navy Environmental Health Center (NEHC) in Portsmouth, VA. Promotion opportunities are regularly available but competitive and based on performance.

It’s also important to note that specialized training received and work experience gained in the course of service can lead to valuable credentialing and occupational opportunities in related fields.

Education Opportunities

Wherever you are in your professional career, the Navy can help ease your financial burdens and advance your career with generous financial assistance and continuing education programs. Opportunities for further education within this platform include:

Through the Navy Health Professions Loan Repayment Program (HPLRP), you may be eligible to receive financial assistance to pay down the cost of your graduate education.

Graduate Students

In the Navy Health Services Collegiate Program (HSCP) you can receive up to $134,600 while finishing a degree. This includes a monthly military salary, a generous housing allowance and a comprehensive health-care benefits package.

Qualifications & Requirements

A degree from a four-year college or university is a minimum educational requirement to become a Commissioned Officer. You must also attend Officer Training. There may be exceptions to the degree requirements based on extensive service experience.

To qualify for employment consideration as an Environmental Health Officer in the Navy Medical Service Corps, you must meet the following requirements.

Basic Requirements:

  • Be a U.S. citizen currently practicing in the United States
  • Hold a Bachelor’s or Master's degree in environmental health from an EHAC-accredited program, OR a Master's of Public Health degree with a concentration in environmental health from a CEPH-accredited college
  • Completed coursework in environmental health, epidemiology, food safety, water quality, air quality, solid waste and wastewater management, communicable diseases, public health sanitation, vector control, toxicology, risk assessment, risk communication, biostatistics, and microbiology
  • Be willing to serve a minimum of three years of Active Duty
  • Be between the ages of 18 and 41
  • Be in good physical condition and pass a full medical examination

Preferred Requirements:

  • Certification as a Registered Environmental Health Specialist (REHS) or Registered Sanitarian (RS) through the National Environmental Health Association or a state agency
  • Masters applicants should have an undergraduate degree in environmental health or biological life sciences. Physical science degrees, such as chemistry and physics, may be acceptable with additional coursework in the life sciences, such as microbiology, zoology or human physiology
  • Field experience in an environmental health-related occupation
  • Certification as a Registered Environmental Health Specialist or Registered Sanitarian through the National Environmental Health Association or a state agency
  • Completed graduate-level coursework with GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale
  • Interview by an Active Duty Environmental Health Officer (Lieutenant or above)

General qualifications may vary depending upon whether you’re currently serving, whether you’ve served before or whether you’ve never served before.

Part-Time Opportunities

Serving part-time as a Navy Reserve Officer, your duties will be carried out during your scheduled drilling and training periods. During monthly drilling, Environmental Health Officers in the Navy Reserve typically work at a location close to their homes. This gives you the flexibility to expand your profession in the Navy without compromising your civilian practice at home.

For Annual Training, Environmental Health Officers may serve anywhere in the world, whether at sea, in hospitals stateside, or on bases in countries around the world.

Take a moment to learn more about the general roles and responsibilities of Navy Reserve Sailors.

Most of what you do in the Navy Reserve is considered training. The basic Navy Reserve commitment involves training a minimum of one weekend a month (referred to as drilling) and two weeks a year (referred to as Annual Training) – or the equivalent.

Environmental Health Officers in the Navy Reserve serve in an Officer role. Before receiving the ongoing professional training that comes with this job, initial training requirements must first be met.

For current or former Navy Officers (NAVET): Prior experience satisfies the initial leadership training requirement, so you will not need to go through Officer Training again.

For current or former Officers of military branches other than the Navy (OSVET), as well as for Officer candidates without prior military experience: You will need to meet the initial leadership training requirement by attending the 12-day Direct Commission Officer (DCO) School in Newport, RI. This will count as your first Annual Training.

With flexible training options, Medical Service Corps Officers in the Navy Reserve can comfortably balance civilian and military schedules. You can maintain your own life and your own career – enriching both with the rewarding work you do for others.

The Medical Service Corps in the Navy Reserve offers you a truly diverse variety of operational venues. In some cases, you can even work in the same civilian location you work in now. What’s more, you will enjoy an unrivaled sense of pride and fulfillment known only to those who serve.