Like working offsite? Enjoy business? Combine your love of nursing and business and become an occupational health nurse!

How to Become an Occupational Health Nurse Guide
How to Become an Occupational Health Nurse Guide

Quick Summary

Occupational Health Nurses are registered nurses that care for people within their work environment.  Their focus is to provide occupational health nursing to all employees in hopes of preventing work-related injuries and illnesses.  Also, they provide direct patient care for both non-occupation and occupational illnesses and injuries.

Occupational Health Nurses provide direct patient care to individuals but also employee groups in a vast number of settings. These parameters include manufacturing plants, chemical companies, clinics, nuclear power plants, schools, and employment health hospitals.

Degree needed to practice: Bachelors of Science in Nursing

License required: Unrestricted Registered Nursing License (RN).

Certification Available: Certification is available but not required through The American Board for Occupational Health Nurses (ABOHN). They offer the Certified Occupational Health Nurse (COHN) Certification for those meeting specified requirements.

How much does Occupational Health Nurse earn? The Median annual salary is $102,670 annually.


What does an Occupational Health Nurse do?

Occupational Health Nurses are vital towards the health and success of companies both large and small. With their expertise, nursing background, and knowledge they allow businesses to operate at their highest performance.

They do this by identifying unsafe working conditions that could lead to employee injuries and illnesses. This allows companies to focus on profitability and performance.

As an Occupational Health Nurse, you will spend a significant portion of your work restoring and maintaining employees’ health. Employers to make independent expert nursing judgments, opinions, and recommendations will call upon you.

You will strive to implement early intervention strategies and methods. You will provide employee consulting and educational teaching. The purpose of this is to keep potential occupational-related injuries from occurring. You will be responsible for developing and administering health services that follow all company practices, policies, and procedures.

Occupational health nurses utilize their expert nursing skills to travel from one company location to the next ensuring employees have surroundings that are safe and healthy. They critically analyze and observe work activities, work equipment used and assess employees’ overall work environments.

Many view their role in a more multi-dimensional way paying particular attention to both the potential short-term, long-term effect this can have on employee health.  Will this problem affect others workers? What resources does the company have to combat this issue? They have a broad perspective when it comes to viewing a problem or workplace problems.

Society and employees call for improved working conditions. As a nursing student, you may have heard about dirty and dangerous work environments at some point or another. Company employees in the past and present have been exposed to hazardous physical, chemical, and biological conditions that have led to poor health outcomes.

Employees spend half their life working and when companies decide to ignore the problems it has consequences for all parties involved.

When employees fall victim to fatal accidents their health may never be the same, companies’ insurance premiums go up and can be quite costly, not to mention by ignoring the issue could lead to severe economic outcomes.

Nonetheless, improved working conditions need not be outdated, and employers who choose to recognize these problems can dramatically improve employees’ quality of life by introducing safe management practices.

What is the Occupational Health Nurse Job Duties:

  • Providing direct patient care – evaluations, patient screenings, physicals, etc.
  • Manage and maintain company cases of reported occupational and non-occupational illnesses and injuries.
  • Provide health hazard assessments.
  • Investigate and monitor internal and external illness outbreaks, trends, and events.
  • Maintain all legal and regulatory as well as ethical guidelines for employees and environmental safety and health standards.


Career Outlook

The job outlook for Occupational Health Nursing appears bright. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) in 2014, there were more than 3 million reported workplace injuries and illnesses. This is equivalent to 1 in 100 employees becoming ill or injured because of unsafe working environments.

Looking at these alarming numbers, we can see there is a high demand and need for Occupational Health Nurses to keep employees safe and protected within the work environment.

Read also – How to Become a Registered Nurse (RN) Guide

Check out our other Nursing School Guides.