moneyIndustrial hygienists are being compensated more for their work than they were five years ago, according to new data released by the American Industrial Hygiene Association® (AIHA). A 2013 AIHA survey, conducted among IH professionals to determine prevailing annual salary and total compensation levels, indicates that the average salary increased from $94,947 in 2008 to $105,166 in 2013.

The survey, which was sent to both AIHA members and non-members and yielded a high 24.5 percent response rate, also revealed a significant increase in salary for upper management in the last five years. The average salary for IH management positions increased from $104,430 in 2008 to $120,276 in 2013.

"Encouraging results"

“These survey results are extremely encouraging to our members and to the IH profession,” said AIHA President Barbara J. Dawson, CIH, CSP. “IH is a rewarding career choice, with tremendous growth and opportunity, particularly for young professionals pursuing careers in occupational and environmental health and safety. IHs work with employees at all job levels and possess a genuine commitment to caring about people and the environment. It’s exciting to see that the work we do to protect the health and well-being of workers is being appropriately compensated.”

Industries with highest compensation

One of the survey’s key findings was that respondents who are independent consultants reported the highest average salary. As of June 2013, the average salary among IH consultants who responded to the survey was $135,023. This figure was higher than both the overall mean salary of $105,166 and the median salary of $100,000. IH professionals employed in the pharmaceutical, energy, construction, and manufacturing industries also earn salaries above the overall mean.

Location counts, too

Not surprisingly, location also affects salary level and compensation, with those located in the New England area earning the highest mean annual salary of $115,742 and those located in the West North Central region earning the lowest mean salary of $97,111. This demonstrates a geographic shift from 2008 survey data, which found the West South Central region to be the highest-earning location.

Certification effects

The survey also revealed that numerous factors, such as education, certification, current employer, and primary job role affect salary and compensation levels. The data indicated that for most professionals, a premium is paid for Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) and/or Certified Safety Professional (CSP) certification. The survey found that in several fields including pharmaceutical/biotechnology, manufacturing, energy, government/military, consulting firms, and academia, higher salaries tends to correlate more often with CIH certification than CSP.