Making Career Decisions with AIHA’s Salary Survey

Earlier this year, AIHA released the results of its 2019 salary and compensation survey. While an executive summary of the survey is available to the public, the detailed results, which are presented as an online calculator, are a benefit of membership. 

The online calculator is more than just a tool for industrial hygiene professionals who are looking for a new job. It presents snapshots of the profession across different demographic segments, including age, geographic region, education level, and professional expertise (as indicated by the possession of certifications, including, of course, the CIH). Comparing the results to our previous salary survey in 2013 yields interesting insights about how the profession has grown in a few short years. WHO RESPONDED Nearly 11,000 industry professionals were invited to participate in our 2019 salary survey. We received 2,347 responses, about 21 percent of those invited. Respondents anonymously provided information on their salaries and other compensation. Of the responses we received, 88 percent were from professionals in the United States, 8 percent from Canada, and 4 percent from elsewhere. AIHA’s members-only online tool provides a granular geographic breakdown of the data from the U.S. so that members can compare average compensation and benefits packages across regions. The age of respondents roughly mirrors the age breakdown of AIHA’s membership, with around 57 percent over the age of 46. A little more than two-thirds of respondents had an advanced degree (master’s or doctorate), and about 64 percent had attained the CIH credential. The next most common certifications among respondents were the CSP at 38 percent and the CHMM at 8 percent.  INSIDE THE NUMBERS The average base salary for all respondents in 2019 was $110,807 compared to $105,166 in 2013, an increase of about 5.36 percent. When we compare total compensation, which includes retirement contribution and other income, we see an even larger increase. In 2019 the average total compensation for all respondents was $131,692 compared to $114,730 in 2013 for an increase of 14.78 percent.
Respondents who hold the CIH credential report significantly higher compensation than those with a different credential or no credential at all.
KATHLEEN S. MURPHY, CIH, is AIHA president and director of Global Regulatory Affairs at Sherwin Williams in Cleveland, Ohio.

As in previous AIHA salary surveys, respondents who hold the CIH credential in 2019 report significantly higher compensation than those with a different credential or no credential at all. The average base salary for CIHs is $123,305, an increase of 31.5 percent over the average base salary for those with other certifications ($93,757) and an impressive 48 percent increase over the average base salary for those with no certifications ($83,223). Experience certainly accounts for some of the difference in salaries between CIHs and those who aren't certified. But there’s good news for students and early-career professionals, too. In the U.S., the average starting salary for IH professionals is $59,714. This compensation is similar to the starting salaries for software and chemical engineers, which were identified as the highest-paying college degrees in a report from Forbes in 2017. Across the U.S., the starting salary for IH professionals ranges from a low of $52,152 in the middle Atlantic region to a high of $67,672 in the Pacific region.  A TOOL FOR CAREER DEVELOPMENT Whether you’re just entering the profession, searching for a new job, or trying to move up the ladder at your current company, AIHA’s salary and compensation report can be a useful resource for your career development plan. For example, the survey results can help you decide whether that enticing job in a different city is worth the upheaval and expense of moving across the country. To view your online dashboard, visit AIHA's IH/OH salary information page and click on the link for member access.