How to Study For and Pass the CIH Exam -

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Monday, December 19, 2016

How to Study For and Pass the CIH Exam

Note: A shortened version of this article was posted as a blog by ASSE on the Industrial Hygiene Practice Specialty Member Portal. The original, unedited version is below.

There are many different occupational safety and health certifications available to increase your marketability to employers and clients. As part of our efforts to educate and inform our members, the volunteer Advisory Committee of the Industrial Hygiene Practice Specialty is developing a series of articles about some of these certifications. This article focuses on the Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) designation from the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH). In this article, we�ll share some of our study tips, useful free resources on the internet to help with difficult topics, and explain why this certification may benefit your career. Relevant websites are hyperlinked throughout the article.

What is a CIH?

A CIHis someone who has qualified for and passed the CIH exam administered by ABIH. The CIH 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. In order to be eligible for the exam, you must have completed at least a four-year Bachelor�s degree with a science, engineering, safety, or industrial hygiene focus. You must also have at least four years of professional-level, broad-scope industrial hygiene experience. Questionnaires from two professional references are needed; one of them must be a CIH. There are additional requirements for 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 from some of the following providers:

Study Tips for the CIH Exam

ABIH has recommendations to help you prepare for the exam. This is a difficult test � you should provide plenty of time for study and review. For some of us, that meant years of studying and multiple tries to pass the exam.  You can take a CIH certification preparation class (there are in-person and online options available from many different providers) to assist you with determining where to focus your studying. The exam is 5 hours and 180 questions, 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 of the testing center. AIHA has developed a 12-step �Preparing for the CIH Exam� guide for students and young professionals. 

Free Resources for the CIH Exam

The Advisory Council developed this list of free internet resources to assist you in studying particularly challenging topics.

General Safety and Health (Multiple Topics)

Air Sampling

Analytical Chemistry

Basic Science

  • Crash Course science episodes on YouTube on chemistry, biology, anatomy/physiology, physics, and math 
  • Khan Academy science resources


Biostatistics and Epidemiology

Community Exposure

Engineering Controls and Ventilation


Health Risk Analysis and Hazard Communication

Industrial Hygiene Program Management



Other Useful Topics

Certification Preparation Courses/Software

The following CIH certification preparation courses are currently available. 

Good Luck with your Studying!

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

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