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So You Want to Pass the CIH Exam?

Morgan Bliss, Vic D’Amato and Jeff Nesbitt
Nov 22, 2016

Many different OSH certifications are available to increase your marketability to employers and clients. To help you better understand these options, this article focuses on the certified industrial hygienist (CIH) designation from the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH). In this article, we share study tips and links to useful free online resources, and explain why this certification may benefit your career. want-pass-cih-exam_112216

What Is a CIH?

CIH is someone who has qualified for and passed the CIH exam administered by ABIH. The designation is the premier certification available for practicing industrial hygienists and academic professionals. CIHs work in many fields, from consulting to electronics, pharmaceuticals to oil and gas, public health to wastewater, healthcare to academia, and many more.

Who Can Take the CIH Exam?

ABIH has established clear guidelines to determine your eligibility for the CIH exam, including an eligibility self-assessment form and a path to certification. To be eligible for the exam, you must have completed at least a 4-year bachelor’s degree with a science, engineering, safety or industrial hygiene focus. You must also have at least 4 years of professional-level, broad-scope industrial hygiene experience. Questionnaires from two professional references are needed, one of whom must be a CIH. Other requirements address academic contact hours and continuing education, including a 2-hour ethics course requirement. Make sure to review the Candidate Handbook for the most up-to-date information.

The ethics coursework can be completed via:

Why Take the CIH Exam?

The CIH is a desirable credential that is achieved by only a small subset of professionals in the OSH field; less than 7,000 OSH professionals in the workforce today have achieved the CIH credential. A CIH may be specified for professional work at desirable private employers and governmental positions, and has been referenced in numerous regulations and standards. If you want to set yourself apart from the applicant pool, achieving the CIH designation is a great way to increase your marketability.

Study Tips for the CIH Exam

ABIH has recommendations to help you prepare for the exam. This is a difficult test so you should provide plenty of time for study and review. For some, it has meant years of studying and multiple exam attempts before passing. You can take a CIH certification preparation class (in-person and online options are available from various providers) to help you determine where to focus your studies.

The 180-question exam takes 5 hours and is delivered via computer-based testing at a Prometric testing center. If you haven’t taken a computer-based exam in a while, Prometric has a “What to Expect” website to familiarize you with the operations at the testing center. In addition, AIHA has developed a 12-step “Preparing for the CIH Exam” guide for students and young professionals.

Free Resources for the CIH Exam

The Industrial Hygiene Practice Specialty Advisory Council developed this list of free Internet resources to assist you in studying particularly challenging topics.

Certification Preparation Courses/Software

The following CIH certification preparation courses are currently available.

Good Luck With Your Studies

If you’ve decided to start the process of studying for the CIH exam, good luck! Many free resources are available to assist you, and previous test takers are often willing to share their experiences and challenges.

Morgan Bliss, CSP, CIH, is an assistant professor in the Safety and Health Management Program at Central Washington University.

Vic D'Amato, CSP, CIH, is associate director of safety, health and environment for AstraZeneca in Maryland.

Jeff Nesbitt, CSP, CIH, is supervisor of industrial hygiene at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.

Originally published Nov. 22, 2016.


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