Environmental Health Careers with State and County Health Departments
Employing science and engineering graduates from a variety of disciplines, environmental health programs offer meaningful and satisfying careers helping protect people and communities from public health risks. They provide an attractive variety of work assignments and settings, and ample opportunity for professional development and advancement. State positions and most county jobs offer excellent fringe benefits including subsidized health insurance coverage, reasonable and flexible work hours, generous amounts of leave time, and unrivaled pension plans. In combination, these factors allow science and technology graduates to experience gratifying careers while enjoying an enviable quality of life.
Recent surveys indicate there is a substantial shortfall of candidates for these jobs.
The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) employs Research Scientists in careers serving the public in the fields of environmental health and environmental protection. Research Scientists design studies, and collect, analyze, interpret and report data. Research is conducted for a variety of public health programs such as drinking water quality, hazardous waste exposure assessment, contaminant risk, and evaluation and protection measures related to emerging pathogens. Typical research fields include biology, chemistry, medicine, epidemiology, and behavioral sciences. Recent examples of research subjects include:
- ambient air quality and asthma,
- survey of pharmaceutical products in drinking water reservoirs, and an evaluation of their health risks,
- Legionella outbreaks related to the air conditioning systems at health care facilities,
- evaluation of treatment needs for recreational spray grounds to prevent communicable disease outbreaks,
- indoor air quality,
- environmental risk factors related to cancer,
Research Scientists work collaboratively with agency program staff and with other research agencies. The work of a Research Scientist often results in publishable contributions to the field under study.
Related Titles, Qualifications & Salaries
Research Scientist jobs span nine Civil Service grades, from Assistant Research Scientist to Research Scientist 8. Qualifications range from a bachelor's degree with one year of research experience, to a doctorate with many years of experience. The job title series is classified as "non-competitive". Positions are created and announced as needed, with the vacancy level determined by the level of work needed at the time of the announcement. Therefore, there is no standing Civil Service list of candidates typical of most state jobs. Evaluation of candidate applications is conducted by the unit issuing the announcement as each new position or vacancy occurs. As the research situation is typically expandable in accordance with the incumbent's personal qualifications, a person-in-job concept is utilized in classifying positions in this series, rather than the conventional government technique based on the evaluation of duties and responsibilities. Therefore, incumbents can progress in the title series based on a peer review process, as experience is gained and responsibilities increase.
Examples of qualifications & salaries* for the typical entry levels in this title series
- Assistant Research Scientist (grade 14, salary range $39,600-$50,300): Bachelor's Degree with specialization in an appropriate specialty, & 1 year of experience in that field or 30 hours of relevant graduate courses
- Research Scientist 1 (grade 18, salary range $49,300-$61,100): Bachelor's Degree and 2 years of relevant professional research experience, or a Master's Degree and one year of research experience
- Research Scientist 2 (grade 22, salary range $60,600-$74,600): Bachelor's Degree and 3 years of relevant professional research experience, or a Master's Degree and 2 years experience, or a relevant doctorate.
(*Salaries listed are approximate, effective April 2009; salary increases occur based on progressive years of satisfactory performance, and union-negotiated periodic salary schedule increases.)
Most of the environmental research positions are located in theNYSDOH's Center for Environmental Health (CEH) in Troy, and a few may be located at NYSDOH field offices located around the state. (Research Scientists are also employed in other public health fields by the NYSDOH Wadsworth Center laboratories.)
Contact & Application Information
Vacancies are listed on the NYSDOH employment website. They can be found there under Career Opportunities for Qualified Individuals at three linked pages: DOH Career Opportunities Open to the Public; Health Research, Inc. Employment Opportunities; and Wadsworth Center, DOH, Employment Opportunities. Scientists interested in employment with NYSDOH should regularly check the referenced website for vacancy announcements. Questions on employment with the NYSDOH may also be directed to its Bureau of Personnel Management at (518) 486-1812.