It will depend on her goals and ambitions, but job experience is very important, whether paid or volunteer. If she is interested in a more traditional industrial hygiene career then she should try to get that type of experience. I recommend that she try and get comprehensive experience, not just work related to asbestos, lead, or mold. If she is more interested in chemical hygiene or laboratory safety (maybe to include biosafety), then of course some place where she can get experience with laboratory/research safety should be her target. If she doesn’t know or doesn’t care right now, then I would suggest that she simply look for a good opportunity.
A master’s degree will help her get more knowledge and experience, and is desirable for people seeking entry level jobs. Again, the degree program will depend on her exact goals, but a traditional master’s degree in industrial hygiene provides broad education. If she needs or want to work while going to school there are several distance programs, with Montana Tech and Tulane being just a couple of examples. If she wants to concentrate more on chemical hygiene she might consider a graduate degree in chemistry, with some IH short courses to fill in gaps (e.g., ventilation and other IH topics). There are no specific biosafety programs that I am aware of, so graduate work in microbiology is something to consider (with additional short courses).
Ben Owens, CIH, CBSP, CCHO
Assistant Director, Laboratory Safety
Environmental Health and Safety Dept., MS 328
University of Nevada, Reno 89557
Office Phone: 775-327-5196
Cell Phone: 775-843-2113
One of the joys of being a teacher is hearing from a former student who is making their way in the world. I was recently contacted by a 2010 Wittenberg graduate with the following query:
I am currently working as a Lab Manager at a small company. Working here I have come to realize I like the knowing, researching, and implementing the safety measures in the lab, and that I would like to do more of that. I am thinking that I would like to pursue a career in the safety field as an Industrial Hygienist and/or a Chemical Hygiene Officer. I know that to be an Industrial Hygienist or a Chemical Hygiene Officer one needs to be certified and the steps for that are laid out in multiple places, but I'm having some issues finding information on how I could start down this path. Is it a re-education, or a few classes I can take while working, getting lucky and finding the right job? I have also seen some references to an apprentice program, but I'm not sure if it is real or not or required. So my real question, can you please advise on the appropriate education and steps I would need to explore to become an Industrial Hygienist or Chemical Hygiene Officer?
I’d be happy to collect responses from the group and forward them to her.
Thanks, in advance.
David C. Finster
Professor, Department of Chemistry
University Chemical Hygiene Officer
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