For many of us, it’s been years since we obtained NEHA’s Registered Environmental Health Specialist credential. I’ve certainly found myself wondering what the credential and testing process is like these days. The Alaska Environmental Health Association’s newest REHS, Michael Vicente, gives us an overview of the current day REHS credentialing process.
Early in 2018, I tested for the nationally recognized Registered Environmental Health Specialist/Registered Sanitarian (REHS/RS) credential. This accreditation from the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) focuses on professional’s ability to demonstrate skills needed for basic community needs and responding to environmental emergencies.
In order to test for the REHS/RS, applicants must have an approved application and pay a fee. Applicants are required to have an undergraduate or graduate degree from an accredited college or university in environmental health. NEHA provides alternate eligibility paths for applicants with science-based degrees other than environmental health. Sealed official college transcripts need to be sent to the NEHA office from your college registrar’s office. Those applicants with a bachelor’s degree must have two or more years of work experience from a full-time paid working position or be working in a position that fulfills this requirement. The application fee for members is $95 and for non-members $130. Once the application is accepted and fee processed, the exam can be scheduled. Allow about four weeks for the application review process to be complete.
The most convenient way to test for the REHS/RS is to schedule the exam with a Pearson VUE computer testing location. Pearson VUE locations are all over the United States, and there is even a testing center here in Bethel, Alaska. Use of a Pearson VUE location comes at a price of $110 with an additional $185 exam fee for members and $335 for non-members. Alternately, the exam can be taken annually at the NEHA Annual Educational Conference & Exhibition.
The REHS/RS is a 250 question multiple choice exam. Examinees are allowed four hours to complete the two part exam. The exam is divided into two 125 question sessions with a 10 minute break in between. Only 225 of the questions are scored, as the remaining 25 questions are pilot questions. A score of 650 or higher is required to pass the exam on a scaled score system ranging from 0 to 900.
I studied REHS/RS material for about 3 months before taking the exam. The NEHA website recommends purchasing A Guide for Environmental Responsibilities and Competencies (Fourth Edition), but I did not purchase this book. However, I did purchase the NEHA online REHS/RS Study Guide (Fourth Edition) which is $150 for members and $179 non-members. I also used a free study guide that I found online. I filled in the study guide by reading Environmental Engineering and Sanitation (Fourth Edition) and Environmental Engineering (Fifth Edition). The books did not follow the study guides word-for-word but much of the content was relevant.
On the day of the exam, I was really nervous. I had no knowledge of the first few questions being asked. Many of the exam questions did not have anything to do with what was on the study guides, and many of the questions were based on very small details. I found myself eliminating answers and then hoping to guess the correct answer. I am not sure how the scaled scoring works but it end up working in my favor. I passed the REHS/RS on the first attempt!
– Article contributed by Michael Vicente, Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation