Occupational Health Specialist Job Description

Occupational health specialists analyze work environments to ensure that they follow health, safety, and environmental guidelines. They examine ventilation, temperature, equipment, lighting, and other systems that impact the safety and performance of workers.

Many occupational health specialists work for the government. Most government agencies employ people in this occupation to ensure that their workers remain safe on the job.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also hires many occupational health specialists to analyze work environments at non-governmental organizations to make sure that they are providing a safe work environment for their employees.

Not all of the opportunities in this occupation are with the government, though. Many occupational health specialists are employed by hospitals, manufacturing facilities, and consulting firms.

Occupational health specialists who work in the private sector are concerned with health and safety standards, but they also look for ways that they could improve productivity. For example, if people are more productive in a certain type of lighting, then they will recommend that type of lighting is installed to increase productivity.

Occupational health specialists frequently work with other specialists to help correct hazardous conditions. For example, if they’re analyzing the working conditions in a factory, they may consult with an industrial engineer to help understand more about the production processes and working environment.

Depending on their area of specialty, occupational health specialists may work in settings like mines, factories, or offices. The conditions can sometimes be dangerous, and workers have to take many safety precautions to minimize the risk of the injury.

The majority of occupational health specialists work full time. Working on nights and weekends is required in the case of an emergency.

Some occupational health specialists travel very frequently to analyze the working conditions at different organizations around the country.

How to Become an Occupational Health Specialist

A minimum of a bachelor’s degree is required for most occupational health specialist jobs. People in this occupation come from many different academic backgrounds, but some of the most common are occupational health, chemistry, biology, and engineering.

A master’s degree is required for some senior level positions in this field. Health physics and industrial hygiene programs are very relevant for this occupation. They normally include courses in respiratory protection, radiation science, and hazardous material management.

Many employers prefer to fill their entry level positions with candidates who have relevant work experience. One of the best ways to get work experience is by getting an internship while in college. To learn more about the internship options available to you, stop by the career center at your college or university.

All occupational health specialists are trained on the job. In training, employees learn how to evaluate working environments. They also learn about the regulations and laws that apply to the working environments that they will be analyzing.

There are many certifications available to occupational health specialists. They are not always required, but many employers prefer to hire certified candidates. The type of certification you earn should align with the field you work in.

Employment Outlook

There are currently occupational health specialists in the United States, with new occupational health specialist job openings created each year.

Occupational Health Specialist jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.

Occupational Health Specialist Salaries

Overall Salaries

Occupational Health Specialist salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most occupational health specialists make between per year, or per hour.

Updated: 05/04/2017

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