Qualifying as an Environmental Health Practitioner FAQs
The EHP Portfolio provides the opportunity for you to demonstrate your ability to apply in practice the knowledge gained during your accredited degree in a workplace setting.
Completion of the Portfolio provides a fair and consistent process by which you can be assessed against the skills and competencies applicable to a newly qualified Environmental Health Practitioner (EHP). The Portfolio marks the start of your professional journey. You will continue to develop your skills and knowledge as you progress in your career.
The Portfolio consists of the work-based interventions that would be expected of a ‘day-one qualified’ EHP. The interventions in the Portfolio cover all five core areas of environmental health:
- Environmental Protection
- Food Safety
- Health & Safety
- Housing & Communities
- Public Health
You will need to develop the skills and competencies required to complete these interventions during your practical training.
There are two mandatory interventions in each of the five core areas (i.e. a total of ten)
You will also need to select a further three interventions from a selection.
So, the total requirement is to complete 13 interventions.
CIEH, employers and other stakeholders agree on the need for environmental health graduates to demonstrate their ability to apply their knowledge in practice across all five core areas of environmental health as part of the qualification process. A work-based Portfolio is a long-established element of the pathway to becoming a fully qualified EHP.
The last decade saw a dramatic decline in the number of people completing the EHRB route to registration and, in response, we launched the Chartered Practitioner Programme in 2018 as a flexible, inclusive route to Registration with CIEH as a Chartered EHP. Whilst it was well received by many candidates and employers, a significant proportion of employers advised us that the programme does not meet their need for holistic practitioners, capable of being deployed flexibly across the core areas of environmental health.
The new EHP pathway (of which the Portfolio is one part) has been produced in collaboration with employers, academics, CIEH assessors and our advisory groups.
Employers told us that they value the independent assessment of officer knowledge, skills and competencies that Professional Registration brings.
Professional Registration brings many other benefits:
- It demonstrates your commitment to professional standards, and to developing and enhancing your competencies
- It proves that you have a positive attitude and the drive to succeed within your profession
- It brings a great sense of achievement, credibility with colleagues and the public, respect and, for many individuals, boosts self-esteem and confidence
- Professional Registration shows employers, peers and the public that you have spent time developing your skills, confidence, knowledge and understanding within your profession and have clearly demonstrated your competence and commitment to developing yourself professionally
- Registration tells others that you are committed to working to high standards and gives them trust and confidence in you as a professional. You would be bound by our Code of Ethics and fitness to practise rules
- Registration demonstrates your level of skill, knowledge and understanding within the profession. You will also belong to a network of experts in your field through membership of a Chartered Professional Body. This offers opportunities for involvement in influential activities, such as consultations, webinars, reports and campaigns
- Registration will confirm your commitment to Continuing Professional Development (CPD). CPD enables you to plan your learning and development proactively and equips you to meet personal and professional challenges. It helps you to update your knowledge and skills, prepare for changing roles in your organisation and take on new responsibilities. CPD is the bridge between where you are now and where you want to be
All of these are important attributes for practitioners who are employed to protect the public. They are especially important when the work of a practitioner or team is challenged, or subject to scrutiny by external bodies.
The expectation is that most candidates will enrol after they have successfully completed their accredited degree and secured a position in a workplace where the Portfolio can be completed.
However, we know that some people will want to enrol as early as possible. This can be:
- On completion of the taught elements of your degree (for example when you are commencing your dissertation)
- During the final year of a BSc EHP Apprenticeship
- During a ‘year out’ work placement as part of a degree
Aside from this, you can enrol at any point in the year – there are no "intakes" as with the Chartered Practitioner Programme.
- A minimum of 6 months must be spent working on your portfolio. The 6 month time period begins at the point of enrolment, even if you are using historic evidence.
A fee is payable on enrolment. This covers enrolment, the costs of one set of assessments, certification and registration.
Membership of CIEH (any grade) is required to enrol, through to completion of your portfolio and professional discussion.
You need to demonstrate that you have completed the interventions in the Portfolio. Your Portfolio will consist of your write-ups, including any evidence which demonstrates that the activities have been completed. Examples of evidence include completed inspection forms, schedules of work, letters, reports, sampling results, laboratory reports, survey results and monitoring data.
Your narrative must be structured as follows:
- Acquiring the necessary information
- Risk assessment
- Determining a suitable course of action with justification
- Reflecting on the intervention
There is further information on this in the Candidate Guidance that accompanies the Portfolio.
There is no prescribed template, you are free to present the information how you like, as long as it follows the required structure.
The Portfolio should be completed in no less than six months and no longer than 12 months.
We have found that an open-ended timeline means that people can lose focus and fail to complete their Portfolio. The new Portfolio has been designed so that it can reasonably be completed in 6-12 months alongside work, family and other commitments.
You cannot complete the Portfolio in less than six months because it is our view (and that of employers we discussed it with) that it will take this long to embed a practitioner in a workplace and community. The aim is to achieve a depth of experience and develop the required competencies rather than "tick off" the activities as quickly as possible.
For example, one intervention in the Portfolio is to inspect a food establishment that handles both raw and ready to eat food. Generally, you will start your work experience shadowing competent officers on inspections, carrying out accompanied inspections of low-risk food establishments, undertaking interventions that are not official controls and undertaking unaccompanied revisits. Over time you will develop the experience, competence and confidence to undertake the intervention required to complete your Portfolio.
Most candidates should be able to complete the Portfolio in 12 months. We will be happy to discuss extenuating circumstances (especially about health, family etc – in confidence) with anyone on a case-by-case basis.
Ideally, the Portfolio should consist mainly of new activities that have been undertaken after you have enrolled. This is to ensure that the work you undertake is properly supervised by your employer and up to date.
However, we are conscious that some candidates will have been in post for several years prior to the new EHP pathway to Registration being launched and will have undertaken useful work during this time.
For that reason, we will allow you to include material that has been undertaken up to three years prior to the date of your enrolment. Exceptional material completed prior to this may be included at our discretion. Please bear in mind that this work will still need to be evidenced – and you may be asked about it during your Professional Discussion, which could present difficulties if it was done many years ago.
Before you embark on the Portfolio you should discuss any potential obstacles with your employer. Your employer should assist you in identifying and providing access to the necessary activities. In some cases, this may include arranging for you to spend time in other departments if you work in a local authority. You may need to arrange to spend time with another employer to complete the Portfolio. We will be producing a Directory of Student Training Opportunities which will help you identify suitable work opportunities.
Some of the interventions in the portfolio can be undertaken via interactive exercises we are organising. These are primarily for those activities where opportunities may not arise due to them not being a regular occurrence, such as investigating an outbreak of communicable disease. They may also be useful for candidates who are employed in organisations which do not operate across all five environmental health core areas, e.g. some public sector bodies and employers in the private sector.
Each candidate will need a workplace supervisor (for example your line manager or training officer). We will also be launching our own mentoring scheme in October 2021 to support and assist candidates through the Registration process.
We will be publishing guidance on MyCIEH for candidates with commonly asked questions about the interventions in the Portfolio.
If there is demand, we will also deliver webinars to assist candidates and their mentors.
You will send your completed Portfolio electronically to us for assessment. Our staff will undertake an initial administrative check before assigning the Portfolio to one of our assessors.
Each of your interventions will be assessed.
You can give yourself a pat on the back and apply for your final assessment – the Professional Discussion.
You will be provided with feedback and advice on how to resubmit your Portfolio.
This will be an online conversation (Teams/Zoom) with two of our assessors. It will examine your assessment of risk, approach to interventions and your wider knowledge of environmental health. The discussion will initially involve discussing three fictitious scenarios and you will then select one of those scenarios to talk about in greater detail. The Professional Discussion will last for approximately one hour. We will be organising Professional Discussion sessions on a regular basis.
You will receive a CIEH certificate of Registration and a digital credential. You will also be added to our Register of Environmental Health Practitioners. This is a publicly accessible register on our website that allows employers and the general public to confirm that you are Registered as an EHP.
People with existing qualifications (or who partially completed them)
You will need to complete an accredited BSc or MSc in Environmental Health (if you have not done so already). You should speak to one of our accredited universities about their APEL process (Assessment of Prior Experiential Learning) with a view to crediting your existing qualification(s) and experience against this.
You can then complete the EHP Portfolio. You will not be required to complete the food elements, as you will already have been tested in this area as part of your food qualification. On completion of the EHP Portfolio you can apply to undertake the EHP Professional Discussion. Successful completion of all these elements will entitle you to be a Registered EHP.
There is some overlap between the PPP and the new EHP Portfolio, and you would be very welcome to contact us to discuss this. Material which has been completed in the last three years can be included in the EHP Portfolio. Exceptional material completed prior to this may be included at our discretion.
We would be happy to discuss this with you. Please contact us at [email protected] (we strongly recommend that people who have completed a year or more of the programme aim to complete it).
We are not expecting that people who have become Registered Chartered EHPs (by any method) would be required to undertake the EHP pathway.
You should speak to one of our accredited universities about their APEL process (Assessment of Prior Experiential Learning) with a view to crediting your existing qualification(s) and experience against an accredited degree. You may then be able to enrol on, for example, an MSc course without duplication of material covered in the qualifications you already hold.
You can then complete the EHP Portfolio and take the EHP Professional Discussion. Successful completion of all these elements will entitle you to be a Registered EHP.
Practitioners Registered with EHRB
No, your registration with EHRB is ongoing. The EHRB registers will be hosted on the CIEH website from 2022.
You would need to:
- Be in membership at the Member or Fellow grade
- Send us sufficient CPD records from the previous 3 years
- Pay your registration fee
There is more information about this and an application form on our EHRB page.
You would then also be Registered with CIEH and would appear on our Register as well as the EHRB one. You would also be issued with your digital credentials to use on online professional profiles, websites, CVs etc.
The Public Health Diploma was the environmental health qualification before the EHRB Certificate of Registration. For the purposes of Registration we class EHPs with the Public Health Diploma as equivalent to those with the EHRB Certificate of Registration. All of the content in this section that applies to EHPs with the Public Health Diploma too.
The Food Law Code of Practice states that the 'suitable qualification' requirements for food hygiene and food standards enforcement are met if an officer holds either a Degree in environmental health, Master’s Degree in environmental health or Environmental Health Practitioner (Integrated Degree) Apprenticeship.
The Food Law Code of Practice also states that the suitable qualifications require the successful completion of all elements, including written exams, portfolios, oral exams, practical exams, professional interviews, as specified by the awarding body.
The EHP Portfolio and Professional Interview are therefore consistent with the requirements of the Code of Practice.
The food interventions in the EHP Portfolio have been designed to align with the FSA's Competency Framework, enabling candidates to demonstrate the six 'Common Competencies' together with many of the competencies associated with Inspecting Businesses (B1; B1.1; B1.2; B3; B3.1; B4), Reactive Investigations (C1; C1.1), Informal Action (D1) and Formal Enforcement Action (D2).
One of the Public Health interventions in the EHP Portfolio will enable candidates to demonstrate C1.3 – Investigating a case of food borne illness.
You will need to assign each candidate a workplace supervisor. This will typically be a line manager or training officer. The workplace supervisor will meet regularly with the candidate to discuss their progress and any obstacles they have encountered.
Employers will generally need to identify the opportunities and provide the time needed for candidates to complete the Portfolio. This may include liaison with other departments. Alternatively, candidates may need to spend time with another employer to gain the necessary experience and complete interventions and/or time away from the workplace to complete interactive exercises.
Each intervention will need to be signed off by a staff member who can verify that the candidate undertook the activity.
We recommend that the workplace supervisor reviews the portfolio as a whole with the candidate before submission – and prior to the Professional Discussion.
Candidates cannot complete the Portfolio in less than six months because we are of the view (as are employers we discussed it with) that it will take this long to embed a practitioner in a workplace and community. The aim is to achieve a depth of experience and develop competency rather than “tick off” the activities as quickly as possible.
The expectation is that completion of the Portfolio will be achieved alongside other work commitments. The interventions have been designed to enable candidates to make a valuable contribution in the workplace whilst completing the Portfolio. Indeed, we expect candidates will develop their confidence, skills, knowledge and competencies during this period.
Most candidates should be able to complete the Portfolio in less than 12 months. We will be happy to discuss extenuating circumstances (especially about health, family etc – on confidence) with candidates on a case-by-case basis.
We will be organising Professional Discussion sessions on a regular basis. These will be online discussions via Teams/Zoom etc.
The duration of the BSc EHP Apprenticeship is four years. Apprentices can commence their Portfolio and use cases compiled throughout the apprenticeship, but can only enrol with CIEH and submit their Portfolio in the final year. This means that they could potentially graduate and become Registered EHPs at the conclusion of the apprenticeship.
There should be a reasonable overlap between the activities in the Portfolio and the duties listed in the apprenticeship standard.
CIEH offers an equivalency assessment for internationally qualified EHPs where we evaluate their knowledge and experience against our pathway. The candidate should contact us at edu[email protected] for more information about the application process.
Their REHIS qualification and membership are already recognised and valid for work as an EHP in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
We continue to recognise REHIS qualifications and they would be welcome to become Registered with CIEH, but are not obliged to do so.
If you have other questions about the EHP Pathway and Portfolio, please contact us [email protected].