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Occupational Health and Industrial Hygiene

Program Description

Just the Facts

Occupational Health and Industrial Hygiene. A program that prepares public health specialists to monitor and evaluate health and related safety standards in industrial, commercial, and government workplaces and facilities. Includes instruction in occupational health and safety standards and regulations; health-related aspects of various occupations and work environments; health hazard testing and evaluation; test equipment operation and maintenance; industrial toxicology; worker health and safety education; and the analysis and testing of job-related equipment, behavior practices, and protective devices and procedures.

This program is available in these options:

  • Certificate / Diploma
  • Associate degree
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Graduate Certificate
  • Master's degree
  • Doctoral degree

High School Courses

See the high school courses recommended for programs in this career cluster:

See the high school courses recommended for programs in this pathway:

Related Programs

Often similar programs have different names. Be sure to explore all your options.

Additional Information

If you have an interest in science and a desire to make the workplace safer, check out the field of industrial hygiene. Students learn how to promote and enforce health and safety in the workplace.

Though this is a scientific program, students will work with others a lot. For that reason, good communication skills and a concern for others' well-being are important.

Some schools offer a two-year program that provides the training to become an industrial hygiene technician. There are also a few three- or four-year bachelor's degree programs that may allow you to specialize in this field.

Most programs are offered at the graduate level. Typically, students enter these with a bachelor's degree in a related field.

Western Kentucky University (WKU) has a bachelor's program in public health with a focus on occupational health and safety. It's one of the few undergraduate offerings in this field.

At WKU, you'll take courses such as elements of industrial hygiene, basic electricity and physical hazards. Other courses include safety program management, technical writing and environmental health.

The program includes at least six semester hours of field experience or research. This gives students on-the-job training working with an experienced industrial hygienist.

Neil Zimmerman is an associate professor of health sciences at Purdue University in Indiana. He advises students to take as many science and math courses as they can. The emphasis should be on physics, chemistry, biology and calculus.

Lydia Ma is the outreach and continuing education coordinator of a graduate industrial hygiene program. She says your interests should extend beyond science.

"[While] high school students should place an emphasis on physical or life science courses, it would also be beneficial if some business and law courses were taken as well," she says.

Zimmerman suggests taking every opportunity to take field trips to industrial areas. He even recommends calling your local occupational safety organization to see if you can "shadow" an inspector.

He also advises students to get involved with local hazardous waste recycling programs and to be aware of local issues concerning radon, asbestos and lead.

Ma says you may have to purchase a pair of steel-toed work boots, some protective eyewear and perhaps a lab coat. But the most valuable purchase may be a computer.

In the U.S., the American Board of Industrial Hygiene grants the title of certified industrial hygienist. It's awarded after someone has worked in the field for five years and has successfully completed a comprehensive exam.


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians

Occupational Hygiene (Industrial Hygiene)
This site provides links related to industrial hygiene

Army Industrial Hygiene Program
Learn about the role of industrial hygiene in the army

American Industrial Hygiene Association
Check out the student career section of the AIHA website


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