The other day, my friend Carla Reinhard and I were chatting about the academic degree program she administers at the School of Public Health. Her department wants to get the word out that there are a lot of great career opportunities available for graduates of their master’s program in occupational and environmental hygiene (MSPH). Essentially, students study “Industrial Hygiene” – and what, you may ask, is this? By definition, “Industrial Hygiene is the science and art devoted to the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, and control of workplace environmental factors which may cause sickness, impaired health and well-being, or significant discomfort and inefficiency among workers or among citizens of the community.” An Industrial Hygienist anticipates, recognizes, evaluates and controls workplace environmental hazards.


            Carla, an Academic Program Administrator, explained that there are various titles someone can hold with a degree in OEH, (to name a few) Industrial Hygienist, Environmental Risk Assessor, Occupational Health Specialist, Environmental Policy Specialist. Do these titles sound familiar? I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts they do. Why? Because you’re bound to see them advertised in newspapers, online employment sites, and just about everywhere. They’re the ones that usually have a few impressive zeroes attached to the pay grade. And where do their graduates become employed? The largest employment percentile land in industry, with consulting firms and government following along.


            Carla emphasized that students need a strong background in science and math (the prerequisites are biology, chemistry, calculus and physics).Current students and graduates come from a variety of backgrounds. All have undergraduate degrees in a science-related field. They’ve had engineers, nurses and doctors who’ve decided to switch careers, or perhaps they’ve just decided to enhance their skills should they decide on a professional change. Geographically, students from around the world and around the country find the program. Currently they have a student from British Columbia, Nigeria, China, and Mongolia, not to mention those scattered throughout the US – even Alaska.


            Typically, more and more students find the program through Google. (Surprise!) The program has a strong online component, and their part-time/internet-based students all work on their degree while holding a full-time job. Carla mentioned that many realized they needed more education to successfully perform their jobsor to advance their careers.


            I agreed with Carla that her program does indeed deserve more attention. With such varied opportunities, the value of a program like this seems well worth investigating. Look for our interview with Dr. Patrick Breysse, who spearheads the program, in the days ahead. 


Alonzo LaMont

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