OEHS experts apply their backgrounds in science and medicine to protect people in new ways.
If you are a self-starter who takes pride in your work and cares about people and the environment, then Occupational and Environmental Health & Safety may be the career for you. Because the field is so diverse, industrial hygienists are able to choose among many types of work. Plus, there is always the opportunity to become a consultant or start your own business if total employment freedom is your goal.
As an OEHS expert, you'll apply your background in science and medicine to protect people in new ways. If you get excited about any of the careers below, a career in OEHS may be for you.
So if you’re interested in…
- Biomedical/biochemistry engineering
…a future in OEHS may be for you.
Live a day in the life with the many types of IH/OH professionals and hear from them why they do what they do.
Benefits of an OEHS career:
- Little to no tuition debt
- High demand upon graduation
- Higher-than-average starting salary, compared to other science or health-based careers
- Strong career path
According to the 2019 AIHA Salary Survey, the average starting salary among young professionals was $58,300; after 10 years with their certificate, the reported average annual base salary in the US was $113,641.
What can you do with an OEHS degree?
Each day is different, and your “office” could be a manufacturing plant, a pharmaceutical lab, an oil rig, a construction site, a railway or a potential natural disaster site, the possibilities are endless.
Protect workers’ hearing by controlling noise in the workplace. Each year 22 million people in the U.S. are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work.
OEHS experts work with museum curators to keep staff healthy. They develop programs to protect workers from chemicals used to preserve artifacts.
Pandemic and Natural Disaster Response
OEHS experts created industry-specific guidance for both businesses and consumers to safely re-open and re-engage as they emerge from the COVID-19 quarantines. And during the 2015 Ebola outbreak, they protected emergency responders in West Africa and hospital staff taking infected patients to the Nebraska Biocontainment Patient Care Unit.
OEHS volunteers organized in 2012 after Hurricane Sandy. They coordinated procuring donations of personal protective equipment, and offered expertise on mold and environmental hazards.
First Responders Safe
OEHS experts help protect firefighters. They’ve led research which finds better ways to protect firefighters from toxic exposures when responding to fires.
US Public Health Service OEHS professionals assisted in the 2010 Haiti earthquake response effort. IHs helped protect emergency responders from heat, stress, fatigue, and asbestos hazards.
Types of personalities best suited for OEHS
Do you share any of these personality traits? OEHS experts have been self-described as:
- Competitive, ambitious, driven
- Passionate, compelling
- Global, internationally minded
- Technical, analytical
- One foot in white collar, one in blue
- Inclusive and exclusive
- Evidence-based, process-oriented
What’s the next step?
A Student’s Experience:
In high school, I wanted to be a biomedical engineer. I took a class in Industrial Hygiene, and the professor explained the upstream vs. downstream approach to solving public health problems. With this degree, you can prevent the problem before it occurs; help people before they even know there’s a problem. It opened up a new world for me."
Alessandra (Lexi) Pratt, MSPresident of the AIHA Student Local Section Advisory Council, PhD Student, Department of Occupational and Environmental Health • University of Iowa