Darrah Sleeth, PhD, MPH, CIH
Acting Industrial Hygiene Program Director
RMCOEH Graduate Academic Advisor
The statistics are stark.
Each year, there are more than 5,000 occupational deaths in the U.S., along with 2.7 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Industrial hygienists are on the front lines of the fight to reduce those numbers and ensure workers return home, healthy, to their families each day. The Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health’s Industrial Hygiene program is a leader in preparing students for successful careers in the field, and we are eager to train the next generation of professionals who are passionate about making a difference.
What is Industrial Hygiene?
Industrial hygiene is the art and science of anticipating, recognizing, evaluating and controlling occupational and environmental health and safety concerns with the aim of protecting workers and their communities.
Industrial hygienists are trained to address a range of health and safety concerns relating to chemical, biological, and physical hazards. These include indoor air quality, asbestos, welding fumes, chemical exposures, infectious diseases, radiation, noise, thermal stress, and more. Job tasks are varied and include investigating workplaces for existing or potential risks, working with interdisciplinary teams to develop solutions to challenging problems, designing occupational and environmental health and safety programs, and communicating complex concepts to people who lack technical health and safety knowledge, including organizational leaders and decision-makers.
Degrees and Requirements
- Master of Occupational Health
- Master of Science in Occupational Health
- PhD in Occupational and Environmental Health
RMCOEH supports industrial hygiene training at the master’s (Master of Science in Occupational Health) and doctoral (PhD in Occupational and Environmental Health) levels through the University of Utah, and our program is known throughout the occupational and environmental health industry for our well-prepared graduates who rise quickly. In a 2022 survey of 116 graduates of our Industrial Hygiene program, more than 42% indicated they are either managers or directors.
There are several components that make our program stand out. The MSOH-IH program is accredited through the Applied and Natural Science Accreditation Commission of ABET. Our faculty are experts in the field and passionate about teaching and mentoring, with an eye toward pushing each student to achieve his or her potential. Our facilities and labs provide a fertile environment for learning. And the interdisciplinary nature of our training provides students with expertise in industrial hygiene as well as a foundational knowledge in other occupational and environmental safety and health disciplines, equipping them to tackle the multifaceted challenges they’ll encounter in the workplace.
“Just having the degree positioned me for opportunities that otherwise would not be available,” one graduate said in our survey. “I regularly think back to lessons, anecdotes, and even general counsel I received from the RMCOEH faculty as I make daily work and career decisions.”
A student trained in industrial hygiene will find the latitude to pursue a career path that aligns with their interests. Given the importance and breadth of their work, industrial hygienists are in demand in dozens of industries, ranging from manufacturing to government to academia, with varied opportunities in each. One student may, for instance, envision a career designing systems for hazardous waste management at construction sites, while another may aspire to conduct research into the long-term effects of radiation exposure on commercial airline pilots.
The career also affords financial stability: According to a 2019 study from the American Industrial Hygiene Association, certified industrial hygienists in the U.S. had an average base salary of $123,305, with respondents holding a doctorate degree reporting the highest salaries, followed by those with a master’s degree.
- Undergraduate training: While RMCOEH only directly supports graduate-level training in industrial hygiene, students can pursue an undergraduate degree in the discipline through Utah State University. Some students opt to begin their careers after completing a bachelor’s at USU, but many choose to further their education in our graduate programs.
- More information about industrial hygiene: The American Industrial Hygiene Association provides significant online resources for industrial hygienists and people considering entering the field.