Remember the movie ‘Erin Brockovich’? Industrial hygiene was a significant plot point in that film. The movie focused on the responsibilities of an industrial hygienist: identifying, evaluating, and controlling health hazards in the workplace. Julia Roberts’ character ultimately held the company responsible for its environmental negligence and health hazards. It’s a true story about how industrial hygiene makes a difference in the lives of everyday people. And the same could be said for you. As the saying goes, knowledge is power, and as an industrial hygiene professional, you can make a positive difference in people’s lives.
Despite the noble cause, embarking on a career in industrial hygiene can be difficult. Therefore, you must know the ins and outs of the profession, including the qualifications, certifications, and training you should have to become an industrial hygienist.
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in industrial hygiene, you’re in the right place. This guide will cover everything you need to know about getting started as an industrial hygienist.
Let’s get started!
- Educational requirements
Most industrial hygienists have at least a bachelor’s degree in environmental science, engineering, or chemistry. However, some positions may require a master’s degree or higher.
In addition to the educational requirements, many employers prefer candidates who have taken courses in industrial hygiene, toxicology, epidemiology, and environmental health. For instance, an MSPH degree can offer a great foundation for an industrial hygiene career. The program includes courses in environmental health, air pollution, and toxicology. You can select up to three electives: chemical health hazard assessment, radiation health hazards, respiratory protection, and more.
Furthermore, many employers prefer hiring industrial hygienists with certification from the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH). Therefore, it is important to research the specific requirements of each position you are interested in.
- Experience requirements
Most industrial hygiene positions require a minimum of one to two years of related experience. These positions may involve assessing and managing workplace biological, chemical, or physical hazards. Some positions may also require experience in hazardous waste management, industrial safety, and environmental health.
It can benefit your job search if you show you have experience in these areas. In fact, employers may even look favorably at candidates who have some experience in other areas of industrial hygiene. For instance, if you have worked with hazardous materials or implemented safety procedures, these experiences may give you an advantage when applying for industrial hygiene positions.
- Job duties
Industrial hygienists are responsible for identifying, evaluating, and controlling health hazards in the workplace. This may include assessing air quality and ventilating systems, evaluating noise levels, testing for hazardous chemicals, monitoring radiation levels, and inspecting safety equipment.
Industrial hygienists also develop policies and procedures to ensure the health and safety of workers. They may also investigate environmental and occupational hazards, develop plans to control them, and train employees in safe work practices. According to OSHA, industrial hygienists may also inspect workplaces for compliance with laws and regulations.
The next question you’re probably wondering is, ‘How much do industrial hygienists make?’ The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median annual salary for industrial hygienists in May 2019 was $83,720. The highest 10% of earners made over $124,800. The top-paying industries for industrial hygienists include pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing, scientific research and development services, and state government.
In the coming years, the job outlook for industrial hygienists is expected to be favorable, so salaries are likely to increase. By 2025, the BLS estimates that the number of jobs in industrial hygiene will grow by 11%. Furthermore, job prospects are expected to be best in chemical manufacturing, environmental consulting, and healthcare.
- Professional development
Like every other profession, industrial hygienists need to stay up-to-date with the latest regulations and trends in their field. Attending professional conferences, workshops, and seminars can help industrial hygienists hone their skills and remain current on the latest developments in their profession.
There are also professional organizations that offer members access to educational and networking opportunities. The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) is a great resource for staying informed and connected to the industrial hygiene profession. However, if you cannot attend conferences and meetings because of your schedule, other ways exist to maintain your professional development. Taking online courses, enrolling in webinars, and reading industry publications can all help industrial hygienists stay abreast of the latest advancements in their field.
In addition to professional development, industrial hygienists must stay current with their certifications. Most states require industrial hygienists to be licensed or certified, and the requirements may vary from state to state. The American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH) is the most recognized certifying agency for industrial hygienists, and its Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) designation is recognized worldwide.
To earn the CIH designation, you must pass an exam and demonstrate two years of experience in industrial hygiene. Additionally, some states may require that applicants have a professional degree in industrial hygiene or related fields. Certification ensures that industrial hygienists are knowledgeable and skilled in their profession and are held to a higher standard of professionalism that benefits both employers and employees.
Although industrial hygienists play an important role in protecting the safety and health of workers, this job can come with certain challenges. Industrial hygienists must work with various chemicals and hazardous materials, making it important to understand the risks associated with these substances.
Industrial hygienists must also be able to recognize potential safety hazards and take the necessary steps to mitigate them. Finally, industrial hygienists must be able to communicate their findings and recommendations effectively, both in writing and verbally. They must be able to explain difficult concepts in an understandable and easily digestible way for their audience. These factors require a great deal of knowledge, skill, and expertise to perform industrial hygiene effectively.
- The future of industrial hygiene
As technology advances, industrial hygienists must be able to keep up with the changing environment and continue to develop their skills and knowledge. The need for industrial hygienists will continue to grow as more employers become aware of the importance of protecting their workers from health and safety risks in the workplace.
Industrial hygienists play an important role in ensuring workers stay safe and healthy on the job. This profession requires a great deal of knowledge, skill, and expertise to perform effectively. To maintain their certification, industrial hygienists must stay informed and connected to the field and continue their professional development through courses, webinars, and publications. Additionally, they must be able to recognize potential safety hazards and take the necessary steps to mitigate them. With the right knowledge, skills, and dedication, industrial hygienists can continue to play an important role in keeping workers safe and healthy.
This post was last modified on December 8, 2022 11:26 AM