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Occupational Profile

Occupational Hygienist

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

  • Avg. Salary $74,121.00
  • Avg. Wage $38.64
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook Down
  • Employed 3,900
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

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

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

53%
53%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Occupational Hygienist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Occupational/Industrial Hygienists
NOC code: 4161.2
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 Dec 15, 2016

Occupational hygienists work to prevent disease and injury arising from the workplace through the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, control and re-evaluation of workplace hazards. They may check work environments and processes for health and safety hazards related to:

  • chemical agents (for example, dust, gases, vapours)
  • physical agents (for example, heat, cold, noise, radiation)
  • biological agents (for example, viruses, bacteria, molds)
  • ergonomic agents (for example, repetitive motion, static postures, awkward postures)
  • psychosocial agents (for example, violence, stress, bullying).

Specific duties and responsibilities may vary considerably from one job to another. In general, however, occupational hygienists:

  • observe processes, procedures and operating conditions both inside and outside work sites to identify and evaluate hazards
  • develop strategies for evaluating the work site to determine the degree of risk
  • 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 levels of agents and compare them to regulatory standards and guidelines and accepted occupational exposure criteria
  • evaluate the effectiveness of control strategies implemented to protect against workplace exposures and hazards (for example, personal protective equipment, 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
  • advise managers and employees about regulations, standards, legal compliance, risk assessment and ways to reduce risk
  • teach safe work procedures
  • prepare and review product safety and health data
  • interpret the results of exposure surveys to assess the degree of 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
  • conduct investigations into suspected work-related health and safety problems
  • develop and implement standards for health and safety management systems
  • testify at hearings (for example, Workers' Compensation Board hearings, civil proceedings, environmental pollution hearings)
  • report important findings at scientific conferences or in scientific journals.
Working Conditions
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Work environments and hours vary tremendously in this occupation. Occupational hygienists work in offices, laboratories and industrial plants (which may operate 24 hours a day). They must wear protective gear when observing work processes in industrial plants or conducting tests. 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 Dec 15, 2016

Occupational hygienists need the following characteristics:

  • good oral and written communication skills
  • the intellect, patience and perseverance required to solve complex problems
  • the ability to think quickly and act decisively when a situation requires it
  • an even temperament combined with tact and confidence
  • commitment to worker health and safety
  • the ability to establish rapport with all kinds of people.

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

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Most occupational hygienists start with a bachelor's degree in science or engineering, then take further education specifically related to occupational hygiene (for example, 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 but generally 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 (for example, 30-level math and science courses).

Many post-secondary schools offer university transfer programs that allow students to apply up to 2 years of study toward university bachelor's degree programs. It is the student's responsibility to ensure that the courses they choose to take 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.

Certification is not required in Alberta, but may be an asset when seeking employment. 2 organizations offer certification for occupational hygienists:

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 are required to have more work experience than applicants who have a graduate degree in occupational hygiene.

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

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Below-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Occupational hygienists work for:

  • industrial plants
  • governments
  • consulting firms
  • public utilities
  • insurance companies
  • hospitals
  • labour unions
  • educational and research institutions.

Experienced occupational hygienists may be promoted to management positions or set up their own consulting firms. Advancement for those who have doctoral degrees generally takes the form of salary increases, more demanding research responsibilities 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 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.

Over 3,900 Albertans are employed in the Natural and applied science policy researchers, consultants and program officers occupational group. This group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.5% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 59 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As occupational hygienists form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for occupational hygienists. 

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 15, 2016

According to the 2010 Cross Canada Occupational Hygiene Salary Survey, salaries for occupational hygienists in Alberta ranged from $49,000 to over $120,000 per year.

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
NOC code: 4161

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 $18.00 $42.44 $28.94 $27.79
Overall $22.21 $54.87 $38.64 $36.89
Top $27.22 $78.06 $52.05 $46.05

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.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Public Administration
ALBERTA, ALL INDUSTRIES
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services
Other Services (Repair, Personal Services and Related)

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

53%
53%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

33%
33%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

6%
6%

2015 Vacancy Rate

1%
Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Languages (other than English)
  • Mathematics
  • Science
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
  • Health, Recreation and Human Services
    • Health Care Services
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 Dec 15, 2016

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, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 23, 2016. 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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