Industrial Hygiene Consultant Careers: Job Description & Salary

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Learn about an industrial hygiene consultant's job description, salary and education requirements. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of an industrial hygiene consultant career.
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Pros and Cons of an Industrial Hygiene Consulting Career

Industrial hygiene consultants, also known as industrial hygienists, are generally classified as occupational health and safety specialists. People in this field help workers know and act accordingly to government health and safety regulations. Consider the pros and cons of this position to determine if becoming an industrial hygiene consultant is the best career move for you.

Pros of Being an Industrial Hygiene Consultant
Higher than average salary potential ($69,000 in 2014)*
Protect the lives or health of workers*
Take affirmative role in defining or teaching health regulations**
Independent position with discretion to stop work activities**

Cons of Being an Industrial Hygiene Consultant
Slower than average predicted job outlook (7% between 2012 and 2022)*
Exposure to chemicals and hazardous environments*
May have to work overtime or weekends*
Immense responsibility to the lives and well-being of others**
Must maintain open communication channels**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*NET

Essential Career Information

Job Description and Duties

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an industrial hygienist inspects work areas, particularly ones that deal with manufacturing or construction, to see if the work areas meet federal health guidelines (www.bls.gov). An industrial hygienist observes a work area, from a small office to a large industrial company, to see if anything could harm a person's health, such as structural problems or potentially harmful chemicals.

Job Prospects and Salary

The BLS reported that the mean salary for industrial hygienists was around $69,000 in May 2014. The BLS predicted that employment for all occupational health and safety specialists would grow by 7% between 2012 and 2022. The BLS noted that much of the increasing demand would come from newer regulations that could phase-in across the decade that require enforcement and workplace investigations by industrial hygienists.

Education and Training Requirements

According to the BLS, occupational health and safety specialists, including industrial hygienists, generally need a bachelor's degree, such as the Bachelor of Science in Industrial Hygiene. However, the BLS also notes that some positions require a master's degree, like the Master of Science in Industrial Hygiene.

The BLS states that entry-level workers will need some on-the-job training or continuing education in their work sectors. For example, an office may have different hazards than a manufacturing plant, which require different levels of training for each hygienist. Some schools may have specialty courses or continuing education work that is meant for particular work environments.

What Do Employers Look for?

With increased competition, many employers want certified industrial hygienists. Candidates must also demonstrate not only their insight on hygiene matters, but also their willingness to work in tough conditions with hazardous materials. The following jobs are highlighted from April 2012 job boards.

  • A Virginia manufacturing company needs an industrial hygienist to apply government safety regulations on the company's manufacturing process. Job duties include taking samples of the environment and air in the workplace, as well as providing suggestions or reports to the employer about health and safety concerns. Candidates must be certified and have experience dealing with asbestos and lead inspections.
  • A New Jersey consumer company needs an industrial hygiene consultant to monitor the cleaning, sanitation and maintenance of equipment. Much of the work will focus on destroy microbiological growths in product lines or in the workspace. Educating the workforce and preventing these growths in a safe manner is a required duty for this occupation. Will need to travel and the preferred candidate should hold a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering.
  • A Texas utilities company needs an industrial hygienist to help inspect all air exhaust equipment. Must be certified and the candidate must be willing to work long shifts in order to finalize all work issues. Much of the job is also within hazardous environments, so the candidate must be willing to wear protective or hazardous suits to observe for any contamination or environmental risks.

How to Stand Out in the Field

Get Certified

According to the BLS, certification is not required all the time for hygienists; however, there is a strong desire from employers to either hire or promote industrial hygienists that are certified. The Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) credential is maintained by the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH). Several requirements are needed for CIH certification, such as verification of coursework with a bachelor's degree, four years of relevant work experience, two professional recommendations and being currently employed in industrial hygiene.

Others Careers to Consider

Construction and Building Inspectors

If you want to protect workers at a work-site from hazardous environments and also want to participate in the construction industry, then becoming a building or construction inspector may be a good fit. Building and construction inspectors investigate buildings and construction sites for federal and state regulations or violations. They inspect various conditions at these work-sites, ranging from electricity codes, mechanical equipment codes and structural regulations for any size buildings.

In contrast to an industrial hygiene consultant, employment growth will be much higher at 18% between 2010 and 2020. This is from the sheer number of construction and existing properties in the country that require annual inspections. The average salary for this position was $55,000 in May 2011, according to the BLS. Generally, a high school diploma with some years of training or continuing education is sufficient for entry-level work.

Health and Safety Engineers

If you want to help with workplace safety, you can become a health and safety engineer. A health and safety engineer inspects workplace accidents, new machines that are bought, routinely investigates equipment and ensures there are protective mechanisms against fires, chemical spills or environmental threats. Unlike an industrial hygiene consultant, a safety engineer makes sure that the facility maintains various work codes and produces to protect people against accidents.

The engineers may also be asked to work on the construction or building of new facility spaces to make sure they are up to code. Employment growth for this profession should grow by 13% from 2010-2020, according to the BLS. Salaries are also relatively high compared to an industrial hygiene consultant, with the mean salary at about $79,000 in 2011.

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The George Washington University

  • MSHS Medical Laboratory Sciences
  • MSHS in Immunohematology and Biotechnology
  • MSHS in Molecular Diagnostic Sciences

What is your highest level of education?

Kaplan University

  • Master of Public Health
  • Bachelor: Health and Wellness
  • AAS in Public Safety and Security

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Purdue University

  • Master of Public Health

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Northcentral University

  • MS - Organizational Leadership: Health Care Administration

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Regent University

  • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Healthcare Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Government - Healthcare Policy and Ethics
  • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Leadership Studies

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Colorado State University Global

  • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration
  • MS - Healthcare Admin and Management
  • BS - Healthcare Admin and Management

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Baker College Online

  • Healthcare Management - MBA (Master's)

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Benedictine University

  • DUAL MBA/MPH
  • DUAL MPH/MSMOB
  • Masters in Public Health

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