A Career As An Industrial Hygienist

What is an Industrial Hygienist

What is an Industrial Hygienist?

Health care workers are an important part of almost every type of business there is—including industrial plants, government organizations, and even the community as a whole. As a way to protect people from health hazards in the workplace and in the environment, industrial hygienists are put on the job.

These professionals do everything from evaluate and prevent potential health hazards to actually controlling outbreaks or issues as they arise. Although the name suggests that industrial hygienists work primarily in an industrial setting, they are most often part of a government team that examines and promotes health at a more universal level.

They might examine the impact a business or manufacturer has on the air and water quality for the outlying community, or they may look at the workplace setting to ensure that the workers are being properly cared for.

Their tasks include, but are not limited to:

  • Investigating the workplace for hazards
  • Recommending safety improvements
  • Studying harmful conditions in the workplace
  • Training and educating the community about job-related risks
  • Enforcing health and safety procedures at work
  • Testing indoor air quality
  • Controlling environmental hazard exposure (lead, asbestos, radon gas, etc.)
  • Helping facilitate hazardous waste management

Industrial Hygienist Education Requirements

Because much of the work an industrial hygienist does is related to research and development, there is a strong scientific/engineering basis to the work. Most professionals have at least a Bachelor’s degree (in engineering, chemistry, or physics) through a recognized university or college, and educational options move up through the doctoral level.

Those who hold only a Bachelor’s degree have to have at least three years of experience in order to qualify for certification through the American Industrial Hygiene Association.

Public health is a closely regulated field, so all certified industrial hygienists (CIH) must renew their certification every five years. The initial certification requires a passing score on the core and chemical examination from the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH) as well as proven history of education and experience.

Becoming an industrial hygienist isn’t easy, but it can be a very fulfilling career choice. Combining medicine, science, and public health, this is a job that saves lives and improves quality of living for thousands of people every year.


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