Industrial Hygienist Career Interview
Kevin Roegner works as a private consultant in industrial hygiene in Addison, Texas. He has worked in the field for 15 years.
Industrial Hygienist Career Path
Kevin used his interested in environmental management to find his passion for industrial hygiene.
“Environmental management is a closely related field,” says Kevin. “After some time studying that, I discovered that I was better suited for industrial hygiene.”
Industrial Hygienist Experiences
Kevin earned his Bachelor’s degree in safety management and risk management from Indiana State University and his Master’s degree in public health with a specialty in occupational health from St. Louis University.
Kevin worked for a chemical manufacturer for several years while earning his Master’s. There, he gained experience doing industrial hygiene work.
After earning his Master’s degree, he worked for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. He has worked for the last nine years as a self-employed product consultant.
Industrial Hygiene Degree Programs
“The best education for industrial hygiene work is a Bachelor’s degree in a core science, such as chemistry or physics,” Kevin explains. “On top of that, for most jobs, you need a Master’s degree in public health or a Master of Science degree in industrial science.”
Industrial Hygienist Job Description
Kevin works as the executive manager of private consulting practice. In his practice, he and his employees provide prevention and compliance health services by traveling to various production companies to evaluate employee exposures to occupational hazards such as chemicals, noise and radiation.
Industrial Hygienist Daily Routine
A typical industrial hygienist spends half of his or her day working and analyzing in the office and the other half going to companies.
“It’s a good blend between office and field work,” says Kevin. “Any industrial hygienist should spend half of their time traveling to different manufacturing companies and evaluating their health risks.”
While about half of all industrial hygienists do consulting work like Kevin, the other half are employed by various industrial manufacturers and insurance companies.
Industrial Hygienist: Steps to Success
Communication skills are critical for an industrial hygienist.
“You need the ability to communicate with line production folks about their jobs and their interests, and then go communicate with upper management about changes to the workplace that must be done.”
A successful industrial hygiene professional must also have a strong understanding of science and mathematics.
Industrial Hygienist Job Opportunities
For a willing industrial hygienist, the opportunities are out there: you just have to know where to look.
“They need a willingness to travel,” Kevin advises. “There is an emerging demand for industrial hygiene professionals in emerging economies such as China and Mexico. The growth areas are more international.”
“In this country, the demand for industrial hygienists has hit a plateau,” he adds.
Industrial Hygienist Favorite Aspect
Kevin enjoys the balance between office work and fieldwork in industrial hygiene.
“You can be more outdoors working in the field as opposed to a strictly office job like finance,” he says.
As a consultant, Kevin also loves variety that he sees every day.
“I can be at a company that makes Doritos one day and a place that makes semi-conductors the next,” Kevin adds.
Industrial Hygienist Professional’s Future Ambitions
“I hope to continue to develop my knowledge and skills in environmental management,” says Kevin. “I’ve been working in industrial hygiene for 15 years so I’ve got that down. It would be beneficial for my career to develop more environmental and people management skills.”
Advice for Prospective Industrial Hygienists
Industrial hygienists need to develop not just their industrial hygiene skills, but also safety management and environmental management methods.
“Senior industrial hygienists are proficient in all three of these fields,” Kevin explains. “To advance your career, you need to work on all three.”
“Industrial hygiene is a noble profession,” he continues. “You work to protect people’s health. You get to work outside and apply science. A lot of people come to this field after working in a core science like chemistry, and they realize that they don’t want to just work in a lab.”