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Local Health Departments in New Jersey

Local Health Departments in New Jersey

Licensure for Health Officers

What is a health officer?

A Health Officer is the public health chief executive officer of a municipal, regional, county of contractual health agency.  This individual is responsible for evaluating health problems, planning appropriate activities to address these health problems, developing necessary budget procedures to finance these activities, and directing staff to carry out these activities efficiently and economically.  In general, a Health Officer is employed by a local health agency, e.g., an individual municipal local health agency, a regional health commission, or a county health department.  Licensure as a Health Officer does not give the licensee the authority to act as or to perform the duties of other public health positions, e.g., Registered Environmental Health Specialist.

Health Officer Qualifications

  1. The minimum qualifications to be admitted to the Health Officer examination are as follows:hold a doctorate or a masters degree from an accredited college or university which is recognized by the Commission on Higher Education in a health-related field such as public health, environmental science, health administration, social work, nursing, or health education or hold a doctor of medicine, a doctor of osteopathy, or a doctor of veterinary medicine from an accredited medical, osteopathic, or veterinary school, respectively.  The course work for the above-referenced degrees shall include or be supplemented by at least three (3) credit hours in each of the following areas: health planning, health administration, environmental science, social science, statistics, and epidemiology.  An upper-level undergraduate course in one of the areas may be substituted for a graduate course.  You are not permitted to use one course to fulfill the requirements of more than one category, i.e., a course in epidemiology can not be used as both an epidemiology course and a statistics course.  Courses with grades less than 2.0 (“C”) shall not be considered; and

  2. satisfactory completion of two (2) years of full-time employment in a position which provides administrative experience in at least three of the five recognized public health activities, i.e., administrative services, environmental health, communicable disease, maternal and child health, and adult health services.  As a matter of practice, the Board requires that all letters verifying experience must set forth in detail all the duties, responsibilities, and length of time you served in the particular field. These letters must be from your supervisor(s) and must verify and evaluate your employment experience.  This documentation shall be in narrative form and shall be as detailed as possible so that the Board can make a determination that you meet the experiential qualifications.

Health Officer Application

Admission to the examination is dependent upon the information that you submit.  Your application must be accompanied by documentary evidence in support of your training, education, and experience.  All letters verifying your experience must list in detail all the duties, responsibilities, and length of time you served in the particular field.  An official transcript under seal must be submitted from your college(s) or university(ies).  Student copies will not be accepted.  If you were educated outside of the United States, you must provide an evaluation of your foreign transcript.  You may obtain an evaluation by contacting either World Education Services, Inc. at or Joseph Silny & Associates at  The application must also include a copy of the course catalogue description of the required courses.  Copies of certificates, awards, or other similar documents are appropriate documentation in support of your training qualifications.  Incomplete applications shall be rejected and the application fee shall not be refunded.

The application fee is $50.00 and must be submitted as part of your application.  The fee must be in the form of a check or money order made payable to "Treasurer, State of New Jersey."  All fees are non-refundable and non-transferable.  The fee that accompanies your application covers the cost of reviewing and processing the application; it cannot be refunded even if you are found ineligible for the examination.

Download application for the Health Officer examination

Health Officer Examination

The Health Officer examination is comprised of two parts – Part I which is an inventory of content knowledge using a fixed response format and Part II which is an assessment of conceptual, judgmental, and experiential skills using an open response format.  The framework for Part II is The Public Health Workforce: An Agenda for the 21st Century and Public Health Practice Standards of Performance for Local Boards of Health in New Jersey, N.J.A.C. 8:52.  You must successfully complete Part I before you can continue on to Part II. 

Part I consists of 100 true/false items distributed evenly across the topic areas of management and administration, environmental and occupational health, chronic diseases, and communicable disease.  In order to pass Part I, you must have an overall score of 70 percent (420 points) and you must not score below 60 percent (90 points) in any of the four topic areas.  Part II consists of 40 open-format items organized around the 10 essential public health services.  Each service has a question set and represent the skill areas associated with that service. 

   It should be noted that the sole purpose of a licensing examination is to identify persons who possess the minimum knowledge and experience necessary to perform tasks on the job safely and competently -- not to select the “top” candidates or ensure the success of licensed persons.  Therefore, licensing examinations are very different from academic or employment examinations.  Academic examinations assess how well a person can define and comprehend terms and concepts.  Employment examinations can rank order candidates who possess qualifications for the job.

Download application for the Health Officer examination

For additional information or to request an application, contact the Licensure, Compliance and Enforcement Program.

Department of Health

P. O. Box 360, Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
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Last Modified: Friday, 13-Jul-12 13:28:10