Individuals aspiring to obtain positions as occupational health and safety specialists or environmental program managers can complete certificate or degree programs to gain the necessary skills for those positions. Individuals can achieve certification through a number of related professional organizations, such as the American Board of Industrial Hygiene. Bachelor's and master's degrees are also available for this field. These educational programs train students in workplace safety and hazards. Programs often require the completion of internships or independent research projects to gain hands-on training.
Common admissions requirements can include a high school diploma with a strong background in math, chemistry, biology and physics for bachelor's program, and a bachelor's degree with high a GPA for master's and certificate programs. Certificate programs provide online course offerings.
Bachelor of Science in Industrial Hygiene
Though bachelor's programs specifically in industrial hygiene are very rare, public health, occupational health and even chemistry programs at this degree level usually offer an emphasis in the field. These types of programs focus on detecting workplace hazards and methods for assuring a safe and clean working environment. Students explore ways to evaluate, limit and treat worker exposure to physical, chemical or biological hazards and how to promote healthy practices. Bachelor's programs with an emphasis in industrial hygiene provide students with concentrated coursework in math and science, as well as general education. Topics specific to the profession include:
- Scientific safety statistics in the workplace
- Hazardous material and environment identification
- Workplace health and safety measures
- Controlling volatile materials
- Environmental pollutant considerations
Certificate in Industrial Hygiene
Several schools offer certificate programs in industrial hygiene for those who hold a bachelor's degree in a related field. These programs are typically designed to prepare graduates for professional certification through the American Board of Industrial Hygiene. Evening and online classes may be offered, allowing working professionals the convenience of flexible course scheduling. Certificate programs may include a single-week class to multiple subjects covered over several months.
Master of Science in Industrial Hygiene
Master's degree programs in industrial hygiene prepare individuals to become experts in the field of occupational health and safety. Students study proper ventilation systems, airborne and contact pathology and identification of toxic substances in the workplace. Master of Public Health programs may include a broader area of study with a concentration in industrial hygiene. Industrial hygiene master's degree programs emphasize employee safety and public health. Most programs include an internship and an independent research project. Classes typically include:
- Ergonomic and ventilation policies
- Health practices and disease prevention
- Planning and implementation of safety programs
- Hazardous waste management
- Work injury prevention
Popular Career Options
Health and safety specialists and inspectors may advance an existing career with a master's degree. Additional job opportunities exist for those with a graduate degree in industrial hygiene, including:
- Occupational health and safety officer
- Industrial hygienist
- Public health specialist
- Environmental program manager
- Loss control specialist
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Individuals who earn a bachelor's degree in industrial hygiene may be prepared for an entry-level position as an occupational health and safety specialist. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 6% employment increase in the profession between 2018 and 2028 (www.bls.gov). The average annual salary for an occupational health and safety specialist was reported as $74,940 by the BLS in May 2018.
Professional organizations that offer credentials for industrial hygiene specialists also provide continuing education opportunities in order to maintain certification and stay abreast of changes in policies and practices. Those wishing to continue their education in a doctoral program may earn a Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial Hygiene, providing additional career options in scientific or academic fields.
Those interested in industrial hygiene training have options with certification and degrees at both bachelor's and master's levels. After graduating, students often go on to popular careers, such as a industrial hygienist or public health specialist.