Certified Industrial Hygienist Career and Certification
An industrial hygienist works with an organization to maintain a safe and efficient workplace. Most degree programs in this field are based on college campuses or in other on-site settings, but there are a few online courses. Find out about job growth and salary projections, and see how you can become certified. Schools offering Healthcare Management & Public Safety Leadership degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What You Need to Know
Accredited programs in industrial hygiene that qualify candidates for certification are mostly available at the master's degree level, while a few are provided as bachelor's degrees. To supplement your education if you have a degree in an unrelated field, you may enroll in a certificate or associate degree program in industrial hygiene or occupational safety and health.
|Program Options||Industrial Hygiene Technician Certificate, Industrial Safety and Health Certificate, Associate of Arts in Occupational Safety and Health, Bachelor of Arts or Science in Industrial Hygiene, Master of Science in Public Health: Occupational and Environmental Hygiene|
|Career Outlook||Slower than average job growth projected for this field|
|Certification||The ABIH Certified Industrial Hygienist certification exam requires meeting education, coursework and professional experience requirements|
Source: American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH)
What Does an Industrial Hygienist Do?
As an industrial hygienist, you work to maintain safe conditions for workers and visitors in settings, such as construction job sites, working mines or office buildings. You may also work to improve workplace efficiency and worker productivity. Your duties might include both correcting hazardous situations, such as asbestos contamination and instituting preventative measures to avoid future problems like carpal tunnel syndrome. Your work also involves evaluating workplace and environmental conditions and producing written reports summarizing your findings.
What Degrees Are Available?
As of 2015, the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH) accredits 23 master's degree programs and 4 bachelor's degree programs in industrial hygiene and related majors in the United States (www.abih.org). Examples of relevant programs include those in industrial hygiene, industrial safety and occupational health science. Courses in these programs include instruction in Occupational Safety & Health Administration regulations, toxicology and the human body, and safe machine operation guidelines.
What Training Do I Need For This Career?
To qualify to work as an industrial hygienist, you must typically hold at least a bachelor's degree in engineering or in the physical, biological or chemical sciences from an accredited institution, an equivalent foreign degree or comparable academic training. You will likely also need at least three years of directly-related work experience. If you hold a doctoral degree in engineering or the sciences, you can use your advanced degree as a substitute for up to two years of work experience. Internships are one way to get your foot in the door and obtain your first job in the field.
How Do I Become Certified?
To qualify for certification as an industrial hygienist, you must possess an educational background in engineering or the sciences. Unrelated degrees, including degrees in the social sciences, are not considered to be adequate. However, you may supplement your credentials with individual courses, a certificate, or an associate's degree in industrial hygiene. You must also provide references for your past experience as an industrial hygienist and be currently employed in the field.
You can earn certification by completing an examination administered by the ABIH. The examination covers such topics as minimizing exposure to toxic substances, risk assessment, taking and evaluating samples, and setting appropriate program priorities.
What Are My Career Prospects?
Employment opportunities exist within federal and state government agencies as well as the private sector. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job prospects in industrial hygiene are expected to grow by 7% from 2012 to 2022 (www.bls.gov). The median wage for occupational health and safety specialists was $69,210 in 2014, as noted by the BLS.
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