How to Become a Certified Occupational Health Nurse

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Licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) and registered nurses (RNs) have the most education, training and responsibilities in the nursing field. Meanwhile, over the years many new nursing specialties have developed, including ICU nurses, lactation nurses, nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, certified occupational health nurses and more. Businesses employ certified occupational health nurses to ensure the health and safety of employees. These nurses work at a wide variety of locations ranging from schools to factories. The path to this profession is relatively straightforward.

Become a registered nurse (RN). This is the first step in becoming a certified occupational health nurse. While it is possible to become an RN with with just two years of schooling and an associate’s degree, most nurses working as certified occupational health nurses have a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN), and many have graduate level degrees or certifications.

Take the exam to become a certified occupational health nurse. This is a comprehensive 150-question, 3-hour exam covering numerous topics relating to workplace safety. It focuses on prevention and emergency responses to various workplace hazards. The American Board of Occupational Health Nurses (ABOHN) administers the exam.

Research the businesses and organizations in your community that employ certified occupational health nurses. Usually only larger companies or agencies keep a certified occupational health nurse on staff, but most big companies, large schools or state or city agencies will have a certified occupational health nurse as part of their team.

Apply to work at the short list of businesses you have researched that represent the best fit for you. Be patient, since the application and decision making process can be lengthy.

Tips & Warnings

  • ABOHN offers several levels of certification for certified occupational health nurses who choose to pursue masters or doctoral level degrees.

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