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Become An Industrial Hygienist

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Working As An Industrial Hygienist

  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • $90,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Industrial Hygienist Do

Health and safety engineers develop procedures and design systems to prevent people from getting sick or injured and to keep property from being damaged. They combine knowledge of systems engineering and of health or safety to make sure that chemicals, machinery, software, furniture, and other consumer products will not cause harm to people or damage to buildings.


Health and safety engineers typically do the following:

  • Review plans and specifications for new machinery and equipment to make sure they meet safety requirements
  • Identify and correct potential hazards by inspecting facilities, machinery, and safety equipment
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of various industrial control mechanisms
  • Ensure that buildings or products comply with health and safety regulations, especially after an inspection that required changes
  • Install safety devices on machinery or direct the installation of these devices
  • Review employee safety programs and recommend improvements
  • Maintain and apply knowledge of current policies, regulations, and industrial processes

Health and safety engineers also investigate industrial accidents, injuries, or occupational diseases to determine their causes and to determine whether the incidents could have been or can be prevented in the future. They interview employers and employees to learn about work environments and incidents that lead to accidents or injuries. They also evaluate the corrections that were made to remedy violations found during health inspections.

Health and safety engineers are also active in two related fields: industrial hygiene and occupational hygiene. In industrial hygiene, they focus on the effects of chemical, physical, and biological agents. They recognize, evaluate, and control these agents to keep people from becoming sick or injured. For example, they might anticipate that a particular manufacturing process will give off a potentially harmful chemical and recommend either a change to the process or a way to contain and control the chemical.

In occupational hygiene, health and safety engineers investigate the environment in which people work, and then use science and engineering to recommend changes to keep workers from being exposed to sickness or injuries. They help employers and employees understand risks, and improve working conditions and practices. For example, they might observe that the noise level in a factory is likely to cause harm to workers’ hearing and recommend ways to reduce the noise level through changes to the building or reducing exposure time, or by having workers wear proper hearing protection.

Health and safety engineering is a broad field covering many activities. The following are examples of types of health and safety engineers:

Aerospace safety engineers work on missiles, radars, and satellites to make sure that they function safely as designed.

Fire prevention and protection engineers design fire prevention systems for all kinds of buildings. They often work for architects during the design phase of new buildings or renovations. They must be licensed and must keep up with changes in fire codes and regulations.

Product safety engineers investigate the causes of accidents or injuries that might have resulted from the use or misuse of a product. They create solutions that reduce or eliminate safety issues associated with products. They also help design new products to prevent injuries, illnesses, or property damage.

Systems safety engineers work in many fields, including aerospace, and are moving into new fields, such as software safety, medical safety, and environmental safety. These engineers take a systemic approach to identify hazards so that accidents and injuries can be avoided.

For information on health and safety engineers who work in mines, see the profile on mining and geological engineers.

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How To Become An Industrial Hygienist

Health and safety engineers must have a bachelor’s degree, typically in an engineering discipline such as electrical, chemical, mechanical, industrial, or systems engineering. Another acceptable field of study is occupational or industrial hygiene. Employers value practical experience, so cooperative-education engineering programs at universities are valuable as well.


High school students interested in becoming health and safety engineers will benefit from taking high school courses in math and science, such as algebra, trigonometry, calculus, biology, chemistry, and physics.

Entry-level jobs as a health and safety engineer require a bachelor’s degree. Bachelor’s degree programs typically are 4-year programs and include classroom, laboratory, and field studies in applied engineering. Students interested in becoming a health and safety engineer should seek out coursework in occupational safety and health, industrial hygiene, ergonomics, or environmental safety. In addition, programs in mechanical, electrical, and industrial engineering, programs in systems engineering and fire protection engineering constitute good preparation for this occupation. ABET accredits programs in engineering.

Students interested in entering the relatively new field of software safety engineering may pursue a degree in computer science.

Many colleges and universities offer cooperative-education programs, which allow students to gain practical experience while completing their education.

A few colleges and universities offer 5-year accelerated programs through which students graduate with both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. A master’s degree allows engineers to enter the occupation at a higher level, where they can develop and implement safety systems.

Important Qualities

Creativity. Health and safety engineers produce designs showing potential problems and remedies for them. They must be creative to deal with situations unique to a project.

Critical-thinking skills. Health and safety engineers must be able to identify hazards to humans and property in the workplace or in the home before they cause material damage or become a health threat.

Observational skills. Health and safety engineers must observe and learn how operations function so that they can identify risks to people and property. This requires the ability to think in terms of overall processes within an organization. Health and safety engineers can then recommend systemic changes to minimize risks.

Problem-solving skills. In designing solutions for entire organizational operations, health and safety engineers must take into account processes from more than one system at the same time. In addition, they must try to anticipate a range of human reactions to the changes they recommend.

Reading skills. Health and safety engineers must be able to interpret federal and state regulations and their intent so that they can propose proper designs for specific work environments.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as a health and safety engineer. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience, typically at least 4 years
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

The initial FE exam can be taken after one earns a bachelor’s degree. Engineers who pass this exam are commonly called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering.

Only a few states require health and safety engineers to be licensed. Licensure is generally advised for those opting for a career in systems safety engineering. States requiring licensure usually require continuing education for engineers in order to keep their license. Most states recognize licensure from other states, if the licensing state’s requirements meet or exceed their own licensure requirements.

Health and safety engineers typically have professional certification. Certifications include the following:

  • The Board of Certified Safety Professionals offers the Certified Safety Professional (CSP) certification, the Occupational Health and Safety Technologist (OHST), and a new certification called the Associate Safety Professional (ASP)
  • The American Board of Industrial Hygiene awards a certification known as a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH)
  • The American Society of Safety Engineers offers a Certificate in Safety Management (CSM)
  • The International Council on Systems Engineering offers a program leading to a designation as a Certified Systems Engineering Professional (CSEP)

Certification is generally needed to advance into management positions.


New health and safety engineers usually work under the supervision of experienced engineers. To move to more difficult projects with greater independence, a graduate degree is generally required, such as a master’s degree in engineering or a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree.

An advanced degree allows an engineer to develop and implement safety programs. Certification as a safety professional or as an industrial hygienist is generally required for entry into management positions. For more information, see the profile on architectural and engineering managers.

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Industrial Hygienist Career Paths

Industrial Hygienist
Safety Manager Human Resources Manager Director Of Human Resources
Human Resources Vice President
12 Yearsyrs
Safety Manager Human Resources Manager
Corporate Director, Human Resources
12 Yearsyrs
Safety Manager Human Resources Manager Assistant Director
Environmental Services Director
9 Yearsyrs
Safety Specialist Supervisor Quality Assurance Manager
Senior Quality Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Safety Specialist Safety Supervisor
HSE Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Director Nursing Director
Health Director
9 Yearsyrs
Safety Specialist Supervisor Operations Director
Compliance Director
12 Yearsyrs
Consultant Supervisor Quality Assurance Manager
Regulatory Affairs Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Consultant Team Leader Unit Manager
Risk Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Safety Supervisor Field Supervisor Security Manager
Security Director
10 Yearsyrs
Safety Engineer Safety Consultant
Loss Control Consultant
10 Yearsyrs
Safety Engineer Safety Consultant Loss Control Consultant
Loss Control Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Safety Officer Security Supervisor Loss Prevention Manager
Director-Loss Prevention
9 Yearsyrs
Environmental Health Specialist Environmental Specialist
Environmental Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Consultant Senior Accountant Audit Manager
Assurance Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Quality Manager Compliance Manager
Regulatory Compliance Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Manager Food And Beverage Manager Housekeeping Manager
Manager Of Environmental Services
9 Yearsyrs
Manager Account Manager Corporate Account Manager
Corporate Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Director Deputy Director
Emergency Management Director
7 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as an Industrial Hygienist?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Safety Engineer 3.3 years
Top Careers Before Industrial Hygienist
Internship 10.7%
Chemist 4.4%
Consultant 3.1%
Top Careers After Industrial Hygienist
Consultant 5.1%
Manager 3.5%
Owner 2.6%

Do you work as an Industrial Hygienist?

Average Yearly Salary
View Detailed Salary Report
Min 10%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
BP America Inc.
Highest Paying City
Berkeley, CA
Highest Paying State
Avg Experience Level
4.5 years
How much does an Industrial Hygienist make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Industrial Hygienist in the United States is $90,791 per year or $44 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $60,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $136,000.

Real Industrial Hygienist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
SR Industrial Hygienist BP America Inc. Blaine, WA Dec 15, 2011 $101,150
Senior Industrial Higienist Hp Environmental, Inc. Herndon, VA May 10, 2015 $96,200
Industrial Hygienist Vintage Pharmaceuticals LLC D/B/A Qualitest Pharmaceuticals Huntsville, AL Sep 14, 2015 $85,634
Industrial Hygienist Vintage Pharmaceuticals LLC Huntsville, AL Mar 24, 2016 $78,312
Industrial Hygienist Vintage Pharmaceuticals LLC Huntsville, AL Aug 10, 2015 $78,312
Industrial Hygienist Vintage Pharmaceuticals LLC Huntsville, AL Oct 16, 2015 $78,312
Industrial Hygienist Vintage Pharmaceuticals LLC Huntsville, AL Oct 01, 2015 $78,214
Industrial Hygienist II The Sherwin-Williams Company Cleveland, OH Oct 26, 2015 $76,000 -
Industrial Hygienist II Freeport-McMoran Morenci Inc. Morenci, AZ Apr 01, 2015 $72,176
Industrial Hygienist Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Berkeley, CA Apr 06, 2015 $72,000
Associate Industrial Hygienist, North America Manufacturing General Motors Company Warren, MI Aug 16, 2016 $72,000
Industrial Hygienist-I KCI Technologies, Inc. MD Jul 30, 2013 $64,438
Industrial Hygienist Health Science Associates Los Alamitos, CA Nov 29, 2016 $61,200
Industrial Hygienist Health Science Associates, Inc. Los Alamitos, CA Jun 03, 2014 $58,800
Industrial Hygienist I Freeport-McMoran Corporation Safford, AZ Sep 04, 2012 $57,000
Industrial Hygienist KCI Technologies, Inc. MD Jul 31, 2010 $54,080
Industrial Hygienist R. Sterling & Associates, Inc. Milpitas, CA Oct 01, 2011 $54,000
Industrial Hygienist Health Science Associates Los Alamitos, CA Sep 29, 2010 $53,580
Industrial Hygienist Ellis Environmental Management, Inc. Rancho Palos Verdes, CA Oct 01, 2014 $53,000
Staff Industrial Hygienist Sandler Occupational Medicine Associates, Inc. Gaithersburg, MD Oct 01, 2011 $50,489
Staff Industrial Hygienist Sandler Occupational Medicine Associates, Inc. Gaithersburg, MD Oct 01, 2011 $50,409
Industrial Hygienist Dominion Environmnetal Consultants, Inc. Phoenix, AZ Jan 18, 2010 $50,000
Industrial Hygienist Dominion Environmental Consultants, Inc. Phoenix, AZ Apr 01, 2010 $50,000

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Top Skills for An Industrial Hygienist

  1. Safety Program
  2. Exposure Assessments
  3. Ensure Compliance
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Audited safety programs including respiratory protection, fall protection, hearing conservation and confined space entry.
  • Provided industrial hygiene support to large aluminum manufacturer including conducting personal exposure assessments, respiratory fit-testing, and HES training.
  • Participated in a company corporate audit conducted every three years to ensure compliance of company policies and applicable regulations.
  • Developed and implemented first plant safety shoe program, including employee education, for 500 employees to meet OSHA safety requirements.
  • Perform specialized surveys involving indoor air quality.


Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Industrial Hygienists

  1. North Dakota
  2. Minnesota
  3. Ohio
  4. Rhode Island
  5. Wyoming
  6. Massachusetts
  7. Connecticut
  8. Nevada
  9. Alaska
  10. Tennessee
  • (3 jobs)
  • (31 jobs)
  • (63 jobs)
  • (0 jobs)
  • (2 jobs)
  • (28 jobs)
  • (7 jobs)
  • (11 jobs)
  • (0 jobs)
  • (21 jobs)

Industrial Hygienist Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 2,368 Industrial Hygienist resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Industrial Hygienist Resume

View Resume Examples

Industrial Hygienist Demographics










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Industrial Hygienist Education


Columbia Southern University


Montana Tech of the University of Montana


Tulane University


University of Central Missouri


Utah State University


University of Cincinnati


West Virginia University


University of Utah


University of Houston


Eastern Kentucky University


Old Dominion University


Colorado State University


Wayne State University


Murray State University


Texas A&M University


Indiana University of Pennsylvania


Purdue University


Illinois State University


School of Health


University of North Alabama

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Public Health


Environmental Science




Occupational Safety And Health


Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians












Industrial Technology


Health Sciences And Services


Chemical Engineering


Environmental Engineering


Health Care Administration






Civil Engineering




Homeland Security

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Industrial Hygienist Videos

Career Advice on becoming a Health and Safety Manager by Hamish B (Full Version)

Career Advice on becoming a Manufacturing Engineer by Lloyd M (Full Version)

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