Bachelor of Health Science (Environmental Health)

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Protect community health

If you’re interested in protecting people’s health and wellbeing at a local community level, the Bachelor of Health Science (Environmental Health) is a great career choice.

Find out more about the Bachelor of Health Science parent structure

What is it like?

The Environmental Health major of Massey’s Bachelor of Health Science (BHlthSc) is designed to give you the technical training needed for a professional career in human health protection. Within the broader context of the BHlthSc degree, you’ll learn how to protect people and communities from threats to health from our built and natural environments.

What is environmental health?

Environmental health is the professional area concerned with all aspects of the environment that may affect human health. Threats to human health may be biological, physical or chemical, and may be caused by natural processes, human activity, or a combination of the two. Within the major you’ll study important environmental health topics including food safety, infectious disease transmission, drinking water quality, urban air pollution, the hazards of excessive noise, exposure to toxic and other hazardous substances, workplace monitoring, medical geochemistry, contaminated site assessment, waste management and climate change.

What isn’t environmental health?

The name of this discipline is well established but can still sometimes cause confusion for people who are not familiar with the area. In the health context, environmental health does not mean the health of the wider environment – for that you would study environmental science. However, there are a complex range of inter-relationships between the two areas. Climate change is a good example of an environmental impact that will have major direct and indirect impacts on human health.

Entry roles in environmental health

Massey’s Bachelor of Health Science (Environmental Health) is designed to prepare you for a wide range of roles, but more specifically for entry into the two key environmental health occupations:

  • Environmental Health Officer (EHO)
  • Health Protection Officer (HPO).

As with any environmental health career, your training and expertise will continue to grow after you’re employed.

As an HPO you will work with District Health Boards. As an EHO you will work in City or District Councils, or with the New Zealand Defence Force.

Entry to the EHO role is possible because the Bachelor of Health Science (Environmental Health) is formally recognised under the Environmental Health Officers Qualifications Regulations 1993.

A good fit if you:

  • Would like to play a key role in community health protection
  • Like communicating with people from a diverse range of backgrounds
  • Are comfortable with applied science and love a technical challenge
  • Want a job with a wide variety of work, where every day offers different challenges
Betty Holden
Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngā Puhi
Bachelor of Health Science (Double Major in Integrated Human Health and Environmental Health)
Environmental Health Officer

“I would highly recommend studying at Massey. The help and support received from staff, lecturers and other students was invaluable in completing my degree…”

Student life at Massey was awesome. I chose Massey Wellington campus because it was small and had all of my core papers available. Kōkiri Ngātahi on campus support was great too!

We learned about our environment and the impacts we have on it with our individual actions and as a society. We can all do our bit for the environment!

Studying my degree has enabled me to work as an Environmental Health Officer. This has allowed me to put my knowledge into practice. I work alongside communities and providers selling food and make sure they do this safely.

Careers

With a Bachelor of Health Science majoring in environmental health, you’ll be ready for a wide range of careers. Typically they include a mix of indoor and outdoor work. Most jobs in environmental health involve working with people to promote a healthier environment in which to live. Two key occupations are health protection officers (HPOs) with district health boards, and environmental health officers (EHOs) with local councils.

Here are just some examples of the types and fields of work that await you:

  • Central government - Ministry of Primary Industries; Ministry of Health; Environmental Protection Authority: technical advisors; policy analysts; programme managers
  • Local government - health protection officers or environmental health officers; involved in public health advice, food safety/Food Act compliance; building inspection; liquor licensing work; resource consenting; disaster management and emergency planning; waste management; water quality management
  • Private sector - consultancies and industry; food quality assurance; workplace and environmental safety; waste management; food safety auditing; environmental quality assurance

Employers say

“The need for environmental health professionals in Australia is perhaps greater today than before as we face new challenges from existing and emerging environmental and public health concerns. For example, environmental health professions have a fundamental role of scrutinising environmental impact statements for proposed infrastructure, mining and petroleum projects throughout Australia. These projects have potential to create complex environmental and public health issues requiring assessment by qualified and knowledgeable environmental health professionals. The Bachelor of Health Science degree offered by Massey University would be a requisite qualification for work in this field.”  
Geoffrey Prendergast
Environmental Health Manager and Senior Environmental Health Officer
Northern Sydney Public Health Unit

Dr Nick Kim

Senior Lecturer in Applied Environmental Chemistry

It is now clear that in future years many of the health issues that concern us at the moment will take second stage to environmental health problems. Climate change, an upsurge in the frequency of severe weather events, the depletion of natural resources, challenges in maintaining food security, mass migrations, the spread of zoonotic diseases, and increasingly polluted air, soil and water are going to make the next century especially challenging for both economic and socio-political systems, and human civilisation as a whole. Professionals in this area—who in New Zealand include Environmental Health Officers who work with local authorities, and the Health Protection Officers who work with District Health Boards—are being increasingly sought after.

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