An industrial hygienist career is one of the lesser-known health care careers, but anyone interested in a health-care career would be well advised to consider it. Industrial hygienists specialize in making workplaces less dangerous and protecting the lives and health of workers. No matter what kind of job a person is working at, there are dangers and health hazards that go along with it, even though many times the worker may not be aware of them. It falls to the industrial hygienist to investigate the workplace to look for these hazards and take measures to remove them entirely or, at the very least, greatly reduce them.
Because health hazards and safety risks are ubiquitous in all areas of the economy, an industrial hygienist career can lead to a person working in all kinds of different environments. Factories and other industrial facilities are common, of course, but industrial hygienists are also needed in coal mines, on oil rigs, in offices, and every other place where people work for a living. The industrial hygienist will examine the workplace and the various jobs in it for chemical, biological, physical, and radiological hazards. These could include such things as radon gas, hazardous materials, asbestos, noise, lead, pesticides, etc. In some cases, they will also investigate potential hazards to the surrounding community.
After thoroughly inspecting the workplace, the industrial hygienist will recommend specific changes the company needs to make in order to reduce risks to its workers or the local community. They may also recommend replacing equipment or retraining employees in better ways of using the equipment. Devising new safety procedures and recommending better safety equipment also fall under the purview of the industrial hygienist. These highly trained experts are one of the main reasons that workplace accidents and fatalities are quite rare in modern-day America.
Working as an industrial hygienist demands a lot of specialized knowledge, and a college degree is a prerequisite. A bachelor’s degree in such areas as chemistry, physics, or engineering, or in a hard science that’s closely related to these fields, is mandatory. A bachelor’s degree will only qualify a person for entry-level positions, however. In order to become a full-fledged industrial hygienist, one will also need three years of experience working in the field to earn the title. Alternatively, a master’s degree in one of the subject areas listed above can be substituted for one year of experience, and a doctoral degree can be substituted for two years of experience. The final requirement to become a certified industrial hygienist is to take and pass the Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) examination, which is given by the American Board of Industrial Hygiene.
Getting into an industrial hygienist career isn’t easy and takes dedication and years of hard work, but the rewards are worth it. As of this writing, the median salary for industrial hygienists is over $70,000 a year, with a large percentage making more than that. Some industrial hygienists make over $100,000 a year. Not only are salaries very good and expected to remain high, but job growth for the foreseeable future is projected to remain steady in the coming years. An industrial hygienist career is an excellent choice for anyone with the drive and work ethic to earn the title.