Getting an industrial hygienist job.

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How did you get your start doing industrial hygienist work, and what career moves did you make to get to your current position?

Do you need a particular educational background?

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J in Middletown, Delaware

62 months ago

Oh... the art and science of recognizing, evaluating, and controlling health hazards on the job.

My background was a BS in Chemistry. I had no plans to work in a lab so I went for an MS in Environmental Health. While working on my Master's degree I took a class in Industrial Hygiene and Safety, and got hooked on it. This was a long time ago. Then, few people knew what Industrial Hygiene (IH) was, and judging for the number of people who are writing here few people know what it is now. Back then most companies had someone from the production area (engineer) posing as an industrial hygienist/safety. It took me 4 years to find a job as an IH. My first experience was with the Navy as a civilian. It was great training. I worked most with government (military)in research facilities and hospitals. It provided excellent training and exposure to a variety of hazards/challeges. I still work for the government but now I do enforcement now. This is different and I love it.

Educational background: It is helpful to have a background in chemistry. I think that to work as an IH in the government you need 18 credits in Chemistry, but this is not the case for every job. Many private companies do not require that.

My career moves: While working as an IH, I took as many courses as I could in Safety and kept current in Environmental Regulations. It helped me to stay employed more than once. I took management and personnel courses, and how to handle difficult people. A strong background in blueprint reading and industrial (mechanical) ventilation, helped my credibility when dealing with contractors and mechanical engineers, specially being a woman.

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M. Fischer in Avon, Indiana

62 months ago

Check out accredited colleges/universities in your area. I know Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana has an outstanding IH program. So does University of Illinois at Chicago.

I graduated from Purdue's IH program and then went right into consulting. The previous post was correct. You should have a good grasp of chemistry and HVAC.

Consulting gives you the most experience in shortest amount of time. Plus, it is great variety. No day is the same. Once you get a good amount of experience, move to private industry.

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