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Occupational Hygienist

Occupational hygienists use scientific methodology to anticipate, identify, and evaluate workplace exposures and hazards. They recommend and implement controls to reduce or eliminate the exposures and hazards. They suggest changes to work environments and processes and inform managers and workers on ways to reduce the risk of injury or illness from occupational hazards.

  • Avg. Salary $92,250.00
  • Avg. Wage $47.99
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed 4,700
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Industrial Hygienist, Investigator, Occupational Hazards Specialist, Occupational Health and Safety Specialist, Physical Scientist

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Occupational/Industrial Hygienists (4161.2) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Natural and Applied Science Policy Researchers, Consultants and Program Officers (E031) 
  • 2011 NOC: Natural and applied science policy researchers, consultants and program officers (4161) 
  • 2016 NOC: Natural and applied science policy researchers, consultants and program officers (4161) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

49%
49%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Interest Codes
The Occupational Hygienist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Occupational/Industrial Hygienists
INNOVATIVE

Interest in co-ordinating information to evaluate physical, chemical and biological hazards and stresses in the workplace; may participate in emergency response planning

DIRECTIVE

Interest in consulting to suggest changes to work environments and processes; and in providing information to workers and managers or employers on how to reduce the risks of injury or illness from specific occupational hazards

METHODICAL

Interest in handling equipment to conduct research; and in controlling physical, chemical and biological hazards

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Occupational hygienists work to prevent illness, disease, and injury arising in the workplace. They do this by anticipating, recognizing, evaluating, controlling, and re-evaluating workplace hazards. They may check work environments and processes for health and safety hazards related to:

  • Chemical agents, such as dust, gases, and vapours
  • Physical agents, such as heat, cold, noise, and radiation
  • Biological agents, such as viruses, bacteria, and molds
  • Ergonomic agents, such as repetitive motion, static postures, and awkward postures

Specific duties and responsibilities may vary a great deal from one job to another. In general, occupational hygienists observe processes, procedures, and operating conditions inside and outside worksites to identify and evaluate hazards. They also:

  • Develop strategies to determine the degree of risk in the worksite
  • Collect and analyze samples or data to assess worker exposure to physical, chemical, biological, ergonomic, and psychosocial agents
  • Use direct reading instruments, sampling techniques, and other methods to measure levels of hazardous agents
  • Determine exposure to levels of agents and compare them to regulatory standards, guidelines, and criteria for accepted occupational exposure
  • Assess the effectiveness of control strategies that protect against workplace exposures and hazards, such as personal protective equipment and ventilation systems
  • Interpret the results of exposure evaluations and determine risk to human health based on scientific research
  • Work in multidisciplinary teams to design and implement control measures
  • Report and document investigations, audits, and conclusions
  • Recommend ways to control workplace hazards through engineering methods, improved work procedures, and protective equipment
  • Work with occupational health and safety committees

Occupational hygienists also may design, implement, and manage health and safety programs. They may advise managers and employees about regulations, standards, legal compliance, risk assessment, and risk reduction. They may also:

  • Teach safe work procedures
  • Prepare and review product safety and health data
  • Interpret the results of exposure surveys to assess risk and determine requirements for remedial action
  • Review product and process design to minimize risk of injury or illness
  • Work on environmental programs and issues associated with business activities
  • Participate in emergency response planning by providing information about health hazards, protective equipment, and work procedures to help protect emergency response personnel and the public
  • Investigate suspected work-related health and safety problems
  • Develop and implement standards for health and safety management systems
  • Testify at hearings, such as Workers’ Compensation Board hearings, civil proceedings, and environmental pollution hearings
  • Report important findings at scientific conferences or in scientific journals
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Work settings and hours vary widely in this profession. Occupational hygienists work in offices, laboratories, and industrial plants, which may operate 24 hours a day. They must use protective gear when observing work processes or conducting tests in industrial plants. In some cases, the work may involve climbing ladders or accessing industrial plant equipment in confined spaces. Travel to remote facilities may be required.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Occupational hygienists need:

  • Commitment to worker health and safety
  • Tact, confidence, and an even temperament
  • Communication, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills
  • Quick thinking
  • Decisiveness
  • Customer-service skills

They should enjoy analyzing problems, consulting with others, and taking a methodical approach to their work.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Most occupational hygienists start with a bachelor’s degree in science or engineering. They take further education directly related to occupational hygiene. This may be a master’s degree or university certificate in occupational hygiene or health and safety.

Suitable 4-year bachelor’s degree programs are offered by post-secondary schools throughout Alberta. Admission requirements vary. In general, they include a competitive average (ranging from 60% to 80% depending on the program) in English Language Arts 30-1 and 4 other appropriate Grade 12 subjects, such as 30-level math and science courses.

Many post-secondary schools offer university transfer programs. These allow students to apply up to 2 years of study toward university bachelor’s degree programs. It is up to the student to ensure the courses they choose will be accepted for credit at the school to which they wish to transfer.

Ryerson University in Toronto offers a 4-year bachelor’s degree program with a specialization in occupational health and safety.

The following universities offer master’s-level training focusing on occupational hygiene:

For more information on occupational health and safety programs offered in Canada, visit the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety website.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

British Columbia Institute of Technology

Concordia University of Edmonton

Grande Prairie Regional College

Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

University of Victoria

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Certification is not required in Alberta, but it can be an asset when seeking employment. It can help to register with:

Applicants for these designations must have a suitable combination of education and work experience, and pass a qualifying exam. To qualify for the ROH examination, graduates of general occupational health and safety certificate programs must have more work experience than applicants with a graduate degree in occupational hygiene.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Occupational hygienists work for:

  • Industrial plants
  • Governments
  • Consulting firms
  • Public utilities
  • Insurance companies
  • Hospitals
  • Labour unions
  • Educational and research institutions

Experienced hygienists may be promoted to management positions or start their own consulting firms. Those with doctoral degrees may take on more demanding research duties or senior management positions.

Industry and government often work co-operatively on health and safety issues. Opportunities exist for occupational hygienists to work on industry-wide and even international projects through industry groups.

Occupational hygienists are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 4161: Natural and applied science policy researchers, consultants and program officers. In Alberta, 78% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook (pdf) in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • Size of the occupation.

 Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

In Alberta, the E031: Natural and Applied Science Policy Researchers, Consultants and Program Officers occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.5% from 2016 to 2020. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 59 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2019

For information about current collective agreements in the public and not-for-profit sectors, see the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website.

Natural and applied science policy researchers, consultants and program officers

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $21.70 $52.51 $35.70 $35.83
Overall $27.47 $89.03 $47.99 $46.49
Top $32.97 $97.72 $59.05 $50.38

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services
ALL INDUSTRIES
Public Administration
Educational Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

49%
49%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

29%
29%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

7%
7%

Vacancy Rate

2%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Engineering and Science Technologies
  • Engineering, Architecture and Related Studies
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
  • Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2019

American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH) website: www.abih.org

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety website: www.ccohs.ca

Canadian Registration Board of Occupational Hygienists (CRBOH) website: www.crboh.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports Centre near you.

Updated Mar 31, 2019. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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