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Is an Online Master of Science in Public Health in Industrial Hygiene Right for You?

February 7, 2024

Every year, workers worldwide suffer 340 million occupational accidents and 160 million work-related illnesses. These are jaw-dropping numbers, but they likely would be higher if not for the work of industrial hygienists. These specialized public health experts inspect workplaces for health and safety hazards, enforce regulations and devise remediations. The scope of their work is as vast as the safety challenges that arise in the many workplaces they monitor.

This profession requires a significant level of expertise, which is why many early- to mid-career industrial hygienists pursue an advanced degree in this field, such as Tulane University’s online Master of Science in Public Health in Industrial Hygiene (MSPH-IH). If you are interested in industrial hygiene, this article covers what you can learn in this program and why it may be a good decision to earn this degree.  

What Is Industrial Hygiene?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines industrial hygiene as “that science and art devoted to the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, and control of those environmental factors or stresses arising in or from the workplace, which may cause sickness, impaired health and well-being, or significant discomfort among workers or among the citizens of the community.” OSHA establishes mandatory occupational safety and health requirements regulating industrial hygiene in more than 6 million U.S. workplaces

Industrial hygienists utilize technology and analytics to measure worker exposure to hazardous conditions and mitigate or eliminate hazards through engineering, work practice controls, and administrative controls. They visit worksites to evaluate the extent of exposure to dangerous conditions and determine necessary controls to protect employees. They also assist in setting enforcement procedures, contribute to the formulation of standards limiting exposure to toxic chemicals, biological hazards, and harmful physical agents, and provide employers with technical interpretations of OSHA regulations.

Industrial hygienists need to be agile and creative because they must consider each employer’s unique systems, processes, and circumstances in enforcing regulations. Their job requires training and expertise, which is why industrial hygienists must hold a degree in industrial hygiene. In addition, career industrial hygienists typically pursue a certification such as the Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) accreditation.

Should You Earn an Online Master of Science in Public Health in Industrial Hygiene?

Industrial hygienists are typically highly analytical, excellent at problem-solving and communication, and skilled at using technology and software systems to collect data, conduct tests, and make informed decisions. The job involves dealing with employers subject to expensive remediations or fines, which can create stressful situations (so a calm demeanor also helps).

STEM-proficient professionals committed to workplace health and safety are well-suited to industrial hygiene careers. Effective industrial hygienists are observant, thorough, and ethical scientists comfortable in sensitive, potentially dangerous situations. If this describes you, consider earning an MSPH in Industrial Hygiene, a degree that can position you to positively impact workplace safety. The program takes a scientific approach to problem-solving and incorporates hands-on experience throughout the curriculum, ensuring you graduate as a qualified and resourceful industrial hygiene professional.

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What Will You Learn in an Online Master of Science in Public Health in Industrial Hygiene?

The MSPH in Industrial Hygiene program at Tulane University teaches students to identify exposures, estimate risk, improve work practices, and promote personal protective equipment (PPE) to control potential health hazards in the workplace. Students learn to anticipate, recognize, evaluate, and control conditions to prevent injury or illness and create safer, more effective work environments.

The Online MSPH-IH at Tulane University promotes a science-based approach that leverages toxicology, epidemiology, and data analysis to prepare students to:

  • Identify hazards to preempt and prevent workplace hazards using scientific and engineering principles.
  • Quantify risk using analytical chemistry, statistics, and measurement sciences.
  • Design and evaluate engineering and administrative controls for workplace hazards.
  • Communicate clearly the nature of hazards and remediation risks, both verbally and in writing.
  • Interpret data to base decisions on empirical toxicology and epidemiology evidence.
  • Develop programs to evaluate, manage, and promote occupational safety and health regulations and standards.

Coursework covers a broad range of workplace health issues, including:

  • Air quality
  • Chemicals
  • Disease prevention
  • Ergonomics
  • Food and water quality
  • Physical agents, such as temperature, pressure, and noise
  • Radiation

In addition, students gain expertise in the use of biostatistics and data analytics, environmental and workplace law, toxicology, epidemiology, health systems management, risk assessment, and environmental justice. Graduates of the MSPH in Industrial Hygiene receive one year of credit towards the experience requirement to sit for the exam to become a board-certified industrial hygienist (CIH, American Board of Industrial Hygiene).

Why Earn Your Degree Online?

Whether you are already working in the industrial hygiene industry or studying towards a career in this field, opting for online studies makes it easier to accommodate your studies with your work and life. 

Flexible Courses

The online Master of Science in Public Health in Industrial Hygiene program blends self-paced asynchronous coursework with live synchronous classes. Synchronous sessions facilitate interactive discussions and exercises with faculty and other students, while asynchronous content is accessed anytime.

Program Affordability 

Many online graduate students work full time while studying part time, enabling them to spread the expense of their degrees over a longer period and offset costs with earnings. Online studies also allow for cost-saving on commuting or relocation expenses. Your employer may offer a tuition assistance benefit to further reduce your costs. A 2022 Society for Human Resources Management report indicates that nearly half of the employers surveyed offer such a benefit

Career Advancement Opportunities

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 13 percent employment growth for occupational health and safety specialists and technicians over the next decade, with a median annual income of $78,570. Online study will make it easier for you to continue working and advancing your career while you earn your master’s degree. Graduating with the Online MSPH-IH degree can open new career opportunities, including leadership roles or new positions within another company or agency.

Earn Your MSPH-IH Online at Tulane University

Industrial hygienists are critical in promoting workplace safety and eliminating unsafe working conditions. The profession requires the expertise and training achieved with a Master of Science in Public Health in Industrial Hygiene degree.

The online MSPH-IH at Tulane University produces industrial hygiene professionals who can analyze, predict, and preempt potential workplace hazards while balancing regulatory compliance and environmental health factors. Graduates are equally comfortable applying a holistic, scientific approach to workspace safety in commercial, industrial, and academic research settings. 

If you’re an early or mid-career public health and workplace safety professional looking to acquire or advance your skills and credentials, the online MSPH in Industrial Hygiene from Tulane University can meet your needs. Want to learn more? Connect with one of our enrollment advisors today.

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