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Career Definition of an Industrial Hygienist
Industrial hygienists monitor, assess and resolve workplace health and safety issues. An industrial hygienist's duties include evaluating chemical or biological physical dangers like air quality, ergonomic challenges, dangerous sound levels and even productivity, through the establishment of and adherence to health and safety related regulations and protocols. An industrial hygienist's focus can include in-house hazards as well as community or environmental hazards. Industrial hygienists work for private companies, consulting firms or government agencies.
|Education||Bachelor's degree in fields such as industrial hygiene or safety, biology, chemistry, or mechanical engineering|
|Job Skills||Observant, diplomatic, leader, detail-oriented, computer efficient|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)*||$70,210 for occupational health and safety specialists|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)*||4% growth for occupational health and safety specialists|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Industrial hygienists typically have a bachelor's degree in biology, chemical engineering, chemistry, industrial hygiene, industrial safety, mechanical engineering, physics or a related field. A bachelor's degree and four years of professional job experience plus professional references are required for American Board of Industrial Hygiene certification, which needs to be renewed periodically, www.abih.org. An entry-level job as an industrial hygienist may be obtained with a bachelor's degree but a large number of industrial hygiene jobs require a master's degree in a specialized field. Industrial hygienists study ethics, toxicology, environmental hazards, public health, assessment methods for chemical or biological hazards, epidemiology and ergonomics.
Industrial hygienists need keen observation and reporting skills in order to properly assess and report on potential problems. They also need diplomacy and leadership skills in addressing industrial hygiene issues with management and colleagues. Further, industrial hygienists must have strong computer skills, attention to detail and record keeping skills.
Career and Economic Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a slower than average increase of 4% in occupational health and safety specialist jobs from 2014 to 2024. These specialists made a median annual income of $70,210 in 2015, also according to the BLS.
Alternate Career Options
Professionals interested in industrial hygiene can find other career options as well. These professionals can consider becoming a health and safety engineer, or they can work as a technician in occupational health.
Health and Safety Engineer
With a bachelor's degree in engineering, industrial hygiene, or occupational hygiene, these engineers develop systems and procedures to prevent injury and illness. Average employment growth of 6% was anticipated by the BLS from 2014-2024, and an annual median salary of $84,600 was reported in 2015.
Occupational Health and Safety Technician
Some of these techs enter the field with a high school diploma and on-the-job training, while others complete certificate or associate's degree programs. These professionals work alongside occupational health and safety specialists to collect data and conduct testing concerning health and safety in the workplace. They could expect above average job growth of 9% during the 2014-2024 decade, according to the BLS. Occupational health and safety technicians earned a median wage of $48,070 per year, per the BLS in 2015.