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Environmental Health Nurse – Job Description and Career Outlook

Job Descriptions October 17, 2013

Overview

One of the main responsibilities for those working in Environmental Health Nursing is to provide health and safety services to workers and community groups. The goal is to restore health and prevent illness from work related and environmental dangers.

Job opportunities are excellent, especially for environmental health nurses with graduate degrees. Career opportunities are available in clinics, hospitals, consulting and educational organizations, universities and government agencies.

Core qualities needed for the job are an interest in working with the community, strong communication and organizational skills, and interests in environmental effects on health.

Titles for environmental health nurse job include:

•Case manager
•Counseling and crisis intervention program developer
•Health promotion and risk reduction program developer
•Legal and regulatory compliance consultant
•Public Health Administrator

Opportunities for advancement are generally based on education level and successful work experience.

Work Environment and Job Duties

Environmental nurses may work at universities as educators or researchers, in outreach programs, at work sites, in health clinics, or in hospitals. Traveling may be required. Hours may vary. While many environmental nurses work in government offices, substantial numbers work in community venues, while others provide care on job sites. They are also engaged in follow-up treatment and rehabilitation. Many environmental nurses work with people in community to educate them about environmental health hazards. At any given time, nurses in this profession may wear a variety of hats as health care providers, researchers, educators and administrators.

Requirements and Education

While the minimum requirement is to be a licensed RN in the state of employment, environmental nurses just starting out usually have a BSN and experience in critical care, ambulatory care, emergency nursing, or community health. Many environmental nurses have additionally received Master Degrees in advanced practice nursing or public health. Nurses who want to be competitive should consider certification in occupational and environmental health nursing.

Salary and Career Outlook

The median salary for an occupational/environment health nurse is $69,718 according to Salary.com. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for registered nurses is expected to be 26% or well above average in the 2010-2020 time frame.

According to the Jacksonville University School of Nursing, students pursuing advanced nursing degrees are likely to have advantageous career opportunities and are more likely to obtain employment at the best facilities.

For nurses who hold an MSN degree, salaries tend to be considerably higher than what they could earn with only a bachelor’s in nursing degree. Multiple salary information tracking sites gather aggregate salary data by factors such as location and education. PayScale.com is one such site and unlike bls.gov, their information is current. They have revealed the following salaries for MSN degree holders:

Current jobs by title and salary

Nursing Director: $62,249-$89,936
Nurse Practitioner: $68,648-$86,936
Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner: $68,225-$86,645

Most health care employers are supportive of employee education and many graduate schools offer graduate degrees on a part time basis. It makes sense to invest in education for a better career outlook.

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