Environmental engineering is regarded as a broad field that entails new applications and adaptations of different traditional discipline of engineering. Environmental engineering seeks to reduce energy and resource use and minimizing waste and at the same time offering the community with the development opportunities it requires for progression. Environmental engineering is a multidisciplinary branch of engineering which entails the implementation and management of engineering solutions and are in line with the principles of sustainable development. Environmental engineers seek to apply engineering knowledge and skills to issues such as environmental impact assessment, natural resources management, and managing pollution.
Research has indicated that the planet is not in a healthy state and with environmental issues have become a global concern. A survey has highlighted the emerging environmental issues include climate change (51%), freshwater inadequacy (29%), deforestation and desertification (28%), and freshwater pollution at 28% (Nguyen & Pudlowski, 2011). The main causes of these issues have been noted to be poor governance (27%), loss of biodiversity (23%), and the two social issues of population growths and migration, and flexible social values (21%) (Nguyen & Pudlowski, 2011).
The environmental engineers are engaged in different roles within their career. Among the main roles that environmental engineer undertake is to reduce the environmental problems through sustainable development with an aim of making genuine difference to the world. These engineers are involved in the monitoring air, water, and land quality to help protect and restore the environment. Members of this profession collaborate with other professionals within the community. Environmental engineers are mostly involved in; reduction of catchment soil erosion and salinity, create and implement cleaner production technologies with an aim of reducing industrial pollution, enable rehabilitation of landfill sites, ensure development of building and transport system occurs in harmony with environment; evaluate, monitor, regulate, and minimize the environmental impact from engineering projects; create environmental management systems; facilitate the provision and distribution of clean water resources; design, construct, operate, and maintain wastewater management.
The development of environmental engineering profession has been enhanced by the increasing population and improving living standards. Environmental engineers are engaged in government organizations, consultancies, contracting firms, research and development organizations, and education. Professions in this career deal with environmental issues including; air pollution control, solid and hazardous waste management, green buildings, water supply and resource management, storm water and waste management, resource efficiency, land management, environmental management systems, and environmental impact assessment.
For one to be recognized as an Environmental engineer, it is required that one acquires a degree on Bachelor of Environmental Engineering which is an accredited course with Engineers Australia. Application to this course for the citizens of Australiana be done through the Victoria Tertiary Admissions Center (VTAC). For the international students, they must have completed or undertaking VCE or IB in Australia. Monash University indicates that the prerequisite for the entry to the Bachelor of Environmental Engineering include: VCE year 12, units 3 and 4, a study score of at least 30 in English (ESL) and at least 25 for other English, a score of a minimum of 25 in Mathematical Methods (CAS) and the same for either chemistry or physics (Association of Professional Engineers Australia, 2013). It is indicated that a later year entry into the course may be accepted for those students who have undergone a post-secondary level in or outside Australia where some credits may be offered. The exact credits offered are pegged in the complet4ed qualification and the exact subjects undertaken.
As an engineering profession, environmental engineering undergoes the accreditation process just like any other engineering course. This is meant to maintain a standard of professionalism among the engineers such that they carry out their practice in a competent manner, within the accepted ethical standards. This is meant to ensure that they achieve the maximum economic benefit and safety levels for the community (Association of Professional Engineers Australia , 2013). This process requires the application of a rigorous mechanism that assesses and upholds the integrity of this standard. The applicants undergoing the registration process are assessed on their education qualifications, experience, and continuing professional development. These scrutiny processes are done through the use of; by-laws of professionals Australia for Assessment of engineers seeking registration, guidelines and the Professionals Australia Code of Ethics. The by-laws of professionals Australia for Assessment of engineers seeking registration contains the governance structure bearing the scheme, guiding principles, rules and regulations. The guidelines outline that eligibility criteria that is followed in assessing the applicants in the disciplines which are accredited by the Professionals Australia (Association of Professional Engineers Australia, 2013).
There are different requirements that are set for an individual seeking to attain the approval of registration with the Professionals Australia. It is required that an individual has a qualification in one of the disciplines of engineering, in this case the Environmental Engineering. This qualification refers to a four-year full time Bachelor Degree or a Master degree from an accredited Australian institution, or a part-time equivalent degree, or a qualification noted to have been historically recognized as an equivalent qualification. It is required that the applicant have a minimum of five years’ experience in the applicable area of discipline that one seeks accreditation. The work experience must have been acquired within a period of previous five to seven years. The applicant needs to provide the details of a minimum of three professional referee who can be helpful in providing the applicant’s work experience. An applicant needs to have a met a requirement of a total of 150 hours of continuing development over a period of the last three years before the application date (Association of Professional Engineers Australia, 2013).
To make the application for the accreditation process an applicant is required to submit a number of documents which includes: a certified copy of the eligible engineering qualification, a detailed curriculum vitae indicating a minimum of five years’ experience within the area of specialization where the accreditation is being sought, details of a minimum of three professional referee who can attest the nature of the indicated five years’ experience. A record highlighting evidence for continuing professional development, and a complete application form.
There are specific guidelines issued for environmental engineers. Environmental engineers are noted to mainly apply the principles of engineering, soil science, biology, and chemistry to come up solution to environmental problems. These engineers have unique set of skill to engage in the processes of recycling, waste disposal, public health, and water & air pollution management. Other global issues that applicants in environmental engineering do is to address the concerns on unsafe drinking water, climate change, and environmental sustainability. For the accreditation process of the environmental engineer to be successful, the applicant is required to have an experience of five years as an environmental engineer. The type of activities that one ought to have been engaged in during those five years include; developing environmental investigation reports, design projects leading to environmental protection such as water reclamation projects, air pollution control system and waste to energy conversion, have access to, update and maintain plans and standard operating procedure, offer technical support to environmental remediation projects, carry out analysis of scientific data, engage in quality control check, carry out monitoring of the progress of different environmental enhancement programs, make inspections to industrial and municipal facilities and programs to ascertain their compliance with set environmental standards, and offer advice to different corporations and government agencies with regard to the standard procedures for dealing with clean-up process of the contaminated sites (Association of Professional Engineers Australia, 2013).
The applicants for accreditation on environmental engineering are expected to have undertaken studies in hazardous waste management studies where they evaluate the level of significance and offer guidance on how to deal with it. They also need to assist in the development of designs for the municipal as well as industrial water supplies and industrial wastewater treatment. It is expected that these engineers should engage in research of the environmental impacts of the proposed construction projects. Some other works of the environmental engineers that is considered for the accreditation process is on their study of means of reducing the effects of acid rain, global warming, automobile emission, and destruction of ozone layer (Association of Professional Engineers Australia, 2013). The engineers are renowned for their collaborative endeavors with other environmental scientists, planners, technicians, and other experts with the sole purpose of dealing with environmental problems and enhancing environmental sustainability.
Environmental Health Officer
The environmental Health Officer is another profession that is regulated within the sector of the environment. The environmental health officers offer different of public health services to the community. Some of the issues that the deal with include; “Safe and suitable food, prevention and control of notifiable and communicable conditions, water management, environmental management, land use management, built environment, aboriginal environmental health, sustainability and climate change, and emergency and incident management” (Government of Western Australia, 2017).
The Australian Institute of Food Safety outlines the relevance of an environmental health officer to the food industry. It is indicated that the environmental health officer has the duty to ensuring that the food businesses adhere to the legislative requirements. Some of the duties carried to achieve this include making physical visits to the food business to; conduct investigation alleged food poisoning, carry out audit of adherence to safety practice, investigate labelling and product misinformation, educate in food safety, advice on food systems that are in line with the guideline, and monitor compliance with breaches of food safety laws (Santacruz , 2016).
It is indicated that the environmental health officer is engaged in the development, enforcement and evaluation of the environmental health policies, projects and strategies to enhance health outcomes, oversee implementation and monitor environmental health laws. This is attained through carrying out of tasks such as creating environmental health management plans and occupational health and safety plans, develop plans and strategies to achieve safe, economic, and best suited waste disposal , advising on laws, strategies and plans to improve health outcomes, carry out risk assessment of workplaces, initiate programs to manage workplace and environmental pollution, ensure compliance to legislation on hazards, train employees on the use of PPE and how to promote safe working procedures, reporting on key safety performance, and facilitating the return of injured workers into the workplace.
The environmental health officers are a regulated profession. It is indicted for a person who is authorized to act in the capacity of an environmental health officer is an individual who is designated the authority to administer and enforce the provision of the Act as an agent of the enforcement agency. Under this act, the enforcement agency can designate as an authorized offers environmental health officers or people who are not environmental health offices but has the qualifications and experience to undertake the tasks. The law indicates that the environmental health officers are designated by the enforcement agency, in most case the local government. In such a case, the local governments are required to make a list of all the designated authorized officers which contains their name, title, qualifications and experience, date of designation, specific Acts that informed the designation, and any conditions that may have been included.
Becoming of environmental health officer requires one to undertake courses in environmental health, environmental science, public health and environmental management. These areas of study are undertaken within a science, health science, social science, or natural science university degree. Different universities have been indicated to have flexible entry requirements.
The Public Health Act (2016) highlights the qualifications and experience required for the appointment of environmental health officers. The qualifications that have been approved include diploma in environmental health, Bachelor of Applied Science (Environmental Health), Bachelor of Science (Environmental Health), Bachelor of Science (Environmental Biology), Graduate Diploma in environmental health, Master of Environment Health, Bachelor of Health Science (Environmental Health), Bachelor of Environmental Health, Bachelor of Science (Environment and Health), Bachelor of Health Science (Public Health and Environmental Health), Bachelor of Health Sciences (Public Health of Environmental Health, Royal Society of Health Diploma of Health Inspection, Royal Society of Health Diploma, Inspector of Meat and other Foods, Bachelor and Master Environmental Health degree accredited by the Chartered Institute of Environment Health UK.
It is indicated that for one to be appointed as a environmental health officers, he must have at least one of the qualifications indicted above. The appointment of the environmental health officers is the task of the local government. An individual appointed as an environmental health officer is issued with a certificate of authority.
Graduates can become members of the Environmental Health Australia (EHA). EHA is a professional body of the Environment Health Officers in Australia. This not-for-profit organization provides services to environment health practitioners through training workshops, conferences, environmental health policies and continuing professional development, and offering professional tools. EHA is committed to the professional development and status of its members and the enhancement of environmental health standards and services offered to the society through advocacy, promotion, education, and leadership (Environmental Health Australia , 2018). The EHA collaborates with the individual member States Associations with an aim of pointing out the roles of and responsibilities of all parties in coordinating their efforts to improve excellence in environmental health practice. This is to achieved through developing practices and policies governing environment health profession, coordinating and representing the perspectives of the member, provide means of knowledge dissemination, and advocating of objective and policies of Environmental Health Australia.
Critique of the Registration Process
The discussion above has provided and analysis of the registration and licensing procedures for two professions in environment; environmental engineering and environmental health officers. Environmental engineering seeks to reducing energy and resource use and minimizing waste and at the same time offering the community with the development opportunities it requires for progression. The environmental health officer is engaged in the development, enforcement and evaluation of the environmental health policies, projects and strategies to enhance health outcomes, oversee implementation and monitor environmental health laws. These two professions have been noted to have different registration and licensing procedures for the professions. However, from the information presented in the discussion above reveals that the environmental engineering has a more rigorous process in the term of licensing and registration of its registration.
The two professions set a minimum education requirement into joining the profession. Environmental engineer, requires that one acquired a degree on Bachelor of Environmental Engineering which is an accredited course with Engineers Australia. Becoming of environmental health officer requires one to undertake courses in environmental health, environmental science, public health and environmental management. These areas of study are undertaken within a science, health science, social science, or natural science university degree. Under this, the profession of environmental health officers has a wider range of degrees which can be used gain access to the profession unlike the environment engineer which is a narrow range of course to be considered and can thus be indicated to be more rigorous.
Another evidence that the environmental engineering has more rigorous process in the process of accreditation process. Environmental engineering undergoes the accreditation process just like any other engineering course with an objective to maintain a standard of professionalism among the engineers such that they carry out their practice in a competent manner, within the accepted ethical standards. While members of the environmental health officers can become members of the Environmental Health Australia (EHA), this is less a rigorous. EHA is a not-for-profit organization and thus does not have such a rigorous process of registration of the professions.
In evaluating the licensing and registration of the profession, it is clear that the environmental health officers have a less rigorous process as evident in the provisions of designating people in the position despite them not being environmental health officers. The act indicates that the enforcement agency can designate as an authorized offers environmental health officers or people who are not environmental health offices but has the qualifications and experience to undertake the tasks. this is unlike the registration process of the environmental engineering during the accreditation process. It is required that an individual has a qualification in one of the disciplines of engineering, in this case the Environmental Engineering. It is required that the applicant have a minimum of five years’ experience in the applicable area of discipline that one seeks accreditation. This is indicating that the provisions for accreditation of the environmental engineering is more rigorous. The applicant needs to have at least three professional referee who can be helpful in providing the applicant’s work experience. An applicant needs to have a met a requirement of a total of 150 hours of continuing development over a period of the last three years before the application date. These requirements reveal that the registration process for environmental engineering is more rigorous as compared to that of environmental health officers.
Association of Professional Engineers Australia . (2013). Registered Professional Engineer of Professionals Australia . Retrieved from http://www.professionalsaustralia.org.au/engineersdirect/wp-content/uploads/sites/68/2018/08/RPEng-By-Laws-and-Guidelines2018.pdf
Environmental Health Australia . (2018). About EHA. Retrieved from https://www.eh.org.au/about-us/about-eha
Government of Western Australia. (2017). Designation of Authorised Officers and Appointment of Environmental Health Officers. Retrieved from https://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/Improving-WA-Health/Public-health/Public-Health-Act/Preparing-local-government-enforcement-agencies/Public-Health-Act-Toolkit-for-Local-Government/Part-2-Administration/Designation-of-authorised-officers
Nguyen, D. Q., & Pudlowski, Z. J. (2005). Environmental Engineering Education in an Era of Globalization. Global J. of Engng. Educ, 9(1), 59-68.
Santacruz, S. (2016). The Role of an Environmental Health Officer. Retrieved from https://www.foodsafety.com.au/resources/articles/the-role-of-an-environmental-health-officer
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