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Occupational Hygienist

Occupational hygienists use scientific methodology, technical knowledge, and experience to anticipate, recognize, and evaluate workplace exposures from biological, chemical, physical, and ergonomic hazards. They recommend and implement controls to reduce or eliminate the exposures from these 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.

Also Known As

Industrial Hygienist, Investigator, Occupational Hazards Specialist, Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety Professional, 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

  • 4161.2: Occupational/Industrial Hygienists

2006 NOC-S

  • E031: Natural and Applied Science Policy Researchers, Consultants and Program Officers

2011 NOC

  • 4161: Natural and applied science policy researchers, consultants and program officers

2016 NOC

  • 4161: Natural and applied science policy researchers, consultants and program officers

2021 NOC

  • 41400: Natural and applied science policy researchers, consultants and program officers

2023 OaSIS

  • 41400.02: Occupational or industrial hygienists
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Occupational hygienists work to prevent illness, disease, and injury from arising in the workplace. They anticipate, recognize, evaluate, control, and re-evaluate workplace hazards. They may check work environments and processes for health and safety hazards related to:

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

Specific duties and responsibilities 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, and ergonomic risks
  • Assess work stressors such as safety, pace of work, and social environment as contributing factors to workplace risks
  • 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 (PPE) 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 alongside HSE professionals, occupational health nurses, engineers, leadership, and front-line workers
  • 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 and provide training on how to identify, avoid, and control workplace hazards
  • 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, 2024
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

Work settings and hours vary widely in this profession. Occupational hygienists work in offices, laboratories, industrial plants, and any other worksite with hazards that may impact health. Some of these operate 24 hours a day. They must use personal protective equipment (PPE) when observing work processes or conducting tests in industrial plants or other hazardous work locations. In some cases, the work may involve climbing ladders. In other cases, they may need to access crawlspaces, ceiling spaces, or industrial plant equipment in confined spaces. Travel to remote facilities may be required.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Occupational/Industrial Hygienists

2006 NOC: 4161.2

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

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


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


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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2024

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.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Natural and applied science policy researchers, consultants and program officers

2016 NOC: 4161

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 42 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Oct 27, 2021 and Jun 10, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Health benefits: Health care plan
Health benefits: Dental plan
Health benefits: Vision care benefits
Green Job: Involves duties and responsibilities that lead to positive environmental outcomes
Tasks: Report and document investigations and conclusions/recommendations
Construction Specialization: Team player
Other benefits: Team building opportunities
Other benefits: Learning/training paid by employer
Long term benefits: Other benefits
Computer Systems: Willing to travel
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary

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.

Post-secondary schools throughout Alberta offer suitable 4-year bachelor’s degree programs. 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 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.

Toronto Metropolitan 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 (CCOHS) website.

Related Education

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

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Certification Not Regulated

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 or CIH 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, 2024

Occupational hygienists work for:

  • Industrial plants, including hazardous waste plants
  • Governments
  • Consulting firms
  • Public utilities
  • Insurance companies
  • Hospitals
  • Labour unions
  • Educational and research institutions
  • Businesses in construction, manufacturing, agriculture, and other industries

Experienced hygienists may advance 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 cooperatively on health and safety issues. Opportunities exist for occupational hygienists to work on industry-wide and even international projects through industry groups.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 4161: Natural and applied science policy researchers, consultants and program officers occupational group, 75.5% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 4161: Natural and applied science policy researchers, consultants and program officers occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.5% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 109 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2024

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

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Natural and applied science policy researchers, consultants and program officers

2016 NOC: 4161
Average Wage
Per Hour
Average Salary
Per Year
Average Hours
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 4161 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

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.

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $25.00 $65.00 $40.41 $38.67
Overall $33.16 $74.78 $50.28 $49.22
Top $34.31 $100.84 $62.90 $58.36

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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Oil & Gas Extraction
Transportation and Warehousing
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services
Educational Services
Health Care & Social Assistance
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
Vacancy Rate
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, 2024

American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH) website:

American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) website:

Board for Global EHS Credentialling (BGC) website:

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety website:

Canadian Registration Board of Occupational Hygienists (CRBOH) website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2024. 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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