There are numerous job opportunities out there that break away from the norm and offer excellent pay, good job stability, and interesting work. Becoming an industrial hygienist is one choice that stands out, and could be the perfect career option for you. It allows you to work in various settings and help improve the safety of those in the workplace through your efforts.
It’s a job that has some very specific requirements and some very specific expectations. As such, taking some time to learn more about it is important. That way, you’ll be able to determine whether or not it’s a career path that is right for you. Keep reading to learn more about becoming an industrial hygienist.
What Is an Industrial Hygienist?
An industrial hygienist is a highly trained, usually certified expert who works to reduce safety risks and hazards in an industrial setting. These professionals focus their days on developing programs and strategies to improve safety. They often work with Environmental Health and Safety Managers to develop proper safety protocols.
Common job duties of an industrial hygienist include the following:
- Assess an industrial facility to determine what hazardous practices or conditions are present within it
- Develop new strategies and procedures that reduce those hazards
- Oversee the implementation of programs, policies, and procedures for hazard reduction
- Monitor those programs to ensure they are being followed and that they are effective
- Conduct on site monitoring, gather and analyze data about safety
- Conduct studies on new equipment to determine risks and hazards associated with it
- Review plans for new installations for safety issues
- Monitor locations to ensure total compliance with state and federal regulations
- Create reports and present them to superiors concerning safety within the workplace
In short, an industrial hygienist looks at every aspect of a facility and works to improve the level of safety that the workers have during their daily routine. They may visit multiple locations, and work in a variety of different industries depending on the situation.
Training and experience will have the biggest influence on an industrial hygienist’s performance, but some personal traits and characteristics will help as well. Having strength in the following areas will help.
- Eye For Detail – Small things can be major in the industrial safety field. As such, having a good eye for detail is important.
- Good Communication – You’ll need to be able to present your ideas to superiors, co-workers, and even provide education to workers in the facility. Strong written and verbal communication is important.
- Good Organization – You also need to be well organized. You will be handling lots of information about multiple facilities, and the better organized you are, the better.
Nature of the Work
Unlike some other professions, the industrial hygienist may travel a good bit, particularly if their employer has multiple locations or governs multiple locations in the industrial industry. Traveling to different factories within the state or the country is not uncommon, and as such you’ll do work on the road, in the field, and in the office. Additionally, you may also attend meetings with managers or policy makers and at times could even be called to testify in civil suits where industrial safety was an issue.
Employers include government agencies and private industries. In both cases, inspection of facilities and developing strategies to improve the safety of workers will be the primary goal.
Education and Training
While a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering is the minimum requirement for a position in the field, most employers have a serious preference for those who have taken the time to earn a Master’s Degree in Industrial Hygiene. Additionally, gaining certification as an industrial hygienist will also help improve your odds of being hired. Work experience of 3 to 5 years is also a common requirement, and experience in an industrial setting will be needed. There are some entry level jobs that have less strict entry requirements, and the specific requirements will depend upon employer and position.
Average salaries for an industrial hygienist are about $78,000 annually. However, the specific pay will depend upon location, employer, area of work, experience, and more. The demand for these professionals is expected to rise over the coming years, and it is a solid job path for anyone who enjoys this type of work.