Occupational Health Nurse Career Overview | Nursejournal.org (2023)

how long to become 4-8 years
job outlook 7% growth from 2019-2029
average earning potential $83,000 SOURCE: American Association of Occupational Health Nurses

What Does an Occupational Health Nurse Do?

BSN required

certification optional

OHNs carry out an array of roles and duties as caregivers, administrators, educators, and consultants. Depending on their employment setting, these RNs collaborate with other healthcare professionals, business and human resources managers, government officials, and security specialists. Key responsibilities include the following:

Primary Responsibilities

  • Case management for insurance claims, workers' compensation, and disability benefits
  • Counseling, crisis intervention, and employee assistance programs
  • Health and wellness promotion and developing risk reduction strategies
  • Legal and regulatory compliance
  • Hazard detection and risk assessment in workplaces

Key Skills

  • Interest in health and safety issues
  • Problem solving, communication, and teaching skills
  • Ability to work with diverse populations and in risky environments

Occupational Health Nurse Career Overview | Nursejournal.org (4)

(Video) Occupational Health Nurse Interview Questions and Answers

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Where Do Occupational Health Nurses Work?

RNs can find OHN jobs in clinical and nonclinical settings.

Hospitals and Medical Clinics

Many OHNs work in these settings, treating patients with work-related injuries and illnesses, providing emergency services, and conducting drug and alcohol screening.

Manufacturing and Production Departments

These nurses' duties vary by employer. They may conduct pre-employment examinations, create employee fitness programs, and serve as case managers for insurance claims.


Government agencies employ OHNs to conduct risk assessment research, develop industry-wide safety regulations, and create emergency preparedness policies.

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Why Become an Occupational Health Nurse?

While not as widely known as other nursing specialties, a career as an OHN offers significant personal and professional fulfillment promoting wellness and safety in diverse work environments.

Advantages to Becoming an OHN

  • Rewarding collaborations with other healthcare professionals, health and safety specialists, and business managers striving to provide safe and hazard-free work environments

  • Career opportunities available in less stressful nonclinical environments

  • More focus on preventive care and wellness rather than disease treatment and life-and-death situations

  • High job satisfaction and competitive salaries, especially for those with advanced degrees, certifications, and experience

Disadvantages to Becoming an OHN

  • Slower job growth compared to other nursing specialties

  • Additional skills and training required beyond RN licensure

  • Potential exposure to dangerous work environments

  • Physically taxing work requires standing and walking for inspections and assessments

  • Less recognition in the nursing profession than other specialties

How to Become an Occupational Health Nurse

Occupational Health Nurse Career Overview | Nursejournal.org (5)

Earn a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) or an associate degree in nursing (ADN).

A traditional BSN takes four years to complete compared to two years for an ADN. Accelerated RN-to-BSN programs or bridge programs may shorten the time needed to earn a nursing degree.

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Pass the NCLEX-RN to receive RN licensure.

OHNs must hold a valid RN license in the state where they intend to practice. Graduates of ADN or BSN programs apply to take the NCLEX-RN exam through their state nurse licensing board.

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Gain experience in occupational health nursing.

OHN positions usually require approximately five years of medical/surgical nursing or intensive care nursing experience. RNs planning to acquire OHN certification need a minimum of 3,000 clinical hours.

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Consider becoming a certified occupational health nurse.

Although voluntary, the certified occupational health nurse (COHN) or the certified occupational health nurse-specialist (COHN-S) credential may enhance hiring prospects and career opportunities.

Learn More About How to Become an Occupational Health Nurse

Become an Occupational Health Nurse

How Much Do Occupational Health Nurses Make?

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide data specific to OHNs, the organization projects an average of 175,900 openings for all RNs from 2019 to 2029. According to the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses’ 2018 compensation survey, the median OHN salary has increased by 11% since 2013. In 2018, OHNs earned an average salary approaching $87,000.

Compensation varies by type of certification and degree level. Those with COHN-S and COHN-S/Case Manager certifications enjoy significantly higher salaries, making $95,150 and $97,150 a year respectively. OHNs who hold a master of science in nursing or a doctor of nursing practice degree can expect average annual salaries over $100,000.

(Video) Careers in occupational health

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Opportunities for Career Advancement

Industries must implement workplace wellness and safety plans to comply with U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations that protect employees. Increasingly, corporations hire on-site OHNs to help them achieve compliance, reduce costs due to injuries and illness, and reduce workers' compensation and disability claims.

COHN certifications, graduate degrees, and advanced practice RN training prepare prospective OHNs for the most rewarding career paths. These credentials ready candidates for management positions implementing health and safety protocols and administering budgets for programs and staff. OHNs also take supervisory positions in case management, overseeing policies and claims. As consultants, they conduct research and advise corporate clients in disease prevention, emergency preparedness, or legislative compliance.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to become an OHN?

Prospective OHNs usually earn a BSN, which can take up to four years in a traditional program, and then apply for an RN license. A master's or doctoral program requires 2-5 more years of study. Many employers prefer to hire nurses with occupational health certifications that require a minimum of 3,000 clinical hours.

What is the difference between COHN and COHN-S certification?

The COHN certification focuses primarily on clinical practice. This credential best serves nurses who spend more than 50% of their time providing direct patient care and performing tasks such as spirometry or audiology. Nurses who spend more than half of their time in management and administrative practice, engaging in policy development, program planning, and budget and fiscal areas, benefit from COHN-S certification.

Can a licensed practical nurse or licensed vocational nurse (LPN/LVN) be an OHN?

An LPN/LVN may work as an OHN only under an RN or a medical supervisor. These positions require a high school diploma and completion of an approved LPN/LVN program. While LPNs/LVNs may find job opportunities in occupational health, most employers prefer to hire COHN-certified RNs who hold BSNs or graduate degrees.

What types of nursing experience are important for OHNs?

OHNs typically enter the field after earning an undergraduate nursing degree with specialties or gaining clinical experience in ambulatory care, critical care, emergency nursing, or community health. OHNs may decide to pursue a master's or doctoral degree to strengthen their professional competencies in advanced practice nursing, public health, and business.

Resources for Occupational Health Nurses

  • American Association of Occupational Health Nurses

    This professional association provides education and access to research, public policy information, and resources for occupational and environmental health nurse practice. AAOHN members enjoy networking opportunities, updates on industry trends, and webinars and digital collections that address issues like disability case management, health promotion, and safety and environmental regulations.
  • AAOHN Career Center

    Free to members, the AAOHN's official online Career Center offers a full range of professional services for job seekers and employers. The Career Center offers job coaching and provides help with reference checking, resume writing, and creating LinkedIn profiles. Members may post resumes, apply for jobs, and sign up for job alerts.
  • American Board for Occupational Health Nursing

    ABOHN serves as the sole independent certification board for OHNs. The board establishes professional standards for the field and administers the COHN, COHN-S, and case manager credentials. ABOHN also places job postings for employers seeking board-certified OHNs.
  • OSHA's Office of Occupational Medicine and Nursing

    A division of OSHA, OOMN helps employers comply with regulations, from enforcement and rulemaking to outreach and training activities. OOMN administers the OSHA Medical Examination Program for agency compliance officers and clinical programs for physicians and RNs.

Related Pages

Reviewed by:

Occupational Health Nurse Career Overview | Nursejournal.org (9)

Nicole Galan, RN, MSN

Nicole Galan is a registered nurse who earned a master's degree in nursing education from Capella University and currently works as a full-time freelance writer. Throughout her nursing career, Galan worked in a general medical/surgical care unit and then in infertility care. She has also worked for over 13 years as a freelance writer specializing in consumer health sites and educational materials for nursing students.

Galan is a paid member of our Healthcare Review Partner Network. Learn more about our review partners.

(Video) Brief Overview of a Career in Nursing


What is the job summary of an occupational health nurse? ›


Occupational health nurses work in a variety of settings to keep workers healthy and to prevent work-related injuries. These nurses provide direct care services to employees on the job, host health promotion activities, and provide workers' compensation case management.

What are the goals for occupational health nurse? ›

The major objective of any occupational health nursing service is to provide an adequate program for employees which will help them maintain the highest potential level of health and efficiency.

What are the skills of an occupational health nurse? ›

Interpersonal and Communication Skills

Occupational health nurses interact with others daily. Whether suggesting strategies for organization-wide improvements or delivering care to an injured employee, their interpersonal and communication skills make all the difference in how well they can do their jobs.

Which are the responsibilities of an occupational health nurse quizlet? ›

An occupational and environmental health nurse recognizes a range of practice issues and functions comfortably in roles as clinician, coordinator, and case manager following company procedures, utilizing assessment checklist and clinical protocols to provide treatment.

What are examples of occupational nurse? ›

Workplace activities might include health and wellness, case management, ergonomics, workplace safety, infection control, disaster preparedness and others such as travel health. Occupational health nurses fill a variety of roles in their jobs, including clinicians, case managers, educators, directors and consultants.

What is a summary of occupational profile? ›

“The occupational profile is a summary of a client's (person's, group's, or population's) occupational history and experi- ences, patterns of daily living, interests, values, needs, and relevant contexts” (AOTA, 2020, p. 21).

What are the main objectives of occupational health? ›

The focus in occupational health is on the three different objectives: (i) the maintenance and promotion of workers' health and working capacity; (ii) the improvement of working environment and work to become conducive to safety and health; and (iii) the development of work organizations and working cultures in a ...

What are smart goals for occupational health? ›

A SMART goal is an acronym for a goal that consists of five different essential factors: Specific; measurable; attainable; relevant; and time-based. This is a great tool for occupational therapists and other health professionals when composing goals and checking that each goal contains all of the essential components.

What are the 5 domains of occupational health and safety? ›

These 5 domains are: Communication and Collaboration, Social Intelligence, Problem Solving and Conflict Management, Security and Safety, and Fairness and Integrity.

What skills do you need to practice in OT? ›

The sections cover the following essential skills for effective occupational therapy practice: clinical skills, management and leadership skills, evidence-based and research skills, and thinking, judgement and decision-making skills.

What are 3 skills you need to be a nurse? ›

Skills needed to be a nurse are important in various health care settings, from acute care to emergency rooms. Despite the field's diverse nature, all nursing specialties are bound by leadership, communication, problem-solving, analytical and teamwork skills.

What are the core skills of occupational therapy? ›

  • Analysis of body functions and structures. ...
  • Performance analysis. ...
  • Observational skills. ...
  • Functional activity analysis. ...
  • Standardised and non-standardised assessment skills. ...
  • Outcome measurement skills. ...
  • Listening and interviewing. ...
  • Communication skills.

Which of the following best describes the role of the occupational health nurse? ›

The customary role of the occupational health nurse extends beyond emergency treatment and prevention of illness and injury and also includes the promotion and maintenance of health, overall risk management, care for the environment, and efforts to reduce health-related costs in business.

What does the focus of occupational health nursing include quizlet? ›

Occupational health nursing is best described as a specialty practice that focuses on: promoting, preventing, and restoring health within the context of a safe and healthy environment.

Which are the main categories of occupational health nursing practice quizlet? ›

Occupational health nursing practice can be divided into three main categories: compliance, care, and health promotion. An occupational and environmental health nurse recently treated approximately 20 employees for hand injuries.

What are 3 examples of occupational health? ›

The science and practice of occupational health involves several disciplines, such as occupational medicine, nursing, ergonomics, psychology, hygiene, safety and other.

What is another name for occupational nurse? ›

As an occupational nurse, also referred to as an occupational health nurse, your main responsibilities involve monitoring the health, well-being, and safety of the employees of your employer.

What is the difference between RN and OT? ›

“Nurses work to heal people by providing direct care with a focus on medical issues that negatively impact people's lives,” says Roberts. “They are the beating heart of our healthcare system. In contrast, occupational therapists don't do things to people; we do things with people.”

What is occupational profile nursing? ›

“The occupational profile is a summary of a client's (person's, group's, or population's) occupational history and experi- ences, patterns of daily living, interests, values, needs, and relevant contexts” (AOTA, 2020, p. 21).

What is the summary importance of occupational health and safety? ›

Reduced risk or accidents or injuries by identifying and mitigating hazards. Improved efficiency and productivity due to fewer employees missing work from illness or injury. Improved employee relations and morale (a safer work environment is a less stressful work environment)

What information can you learn from the occupation profile? ›

Each occupational profile describes the typical duties performed by the occupation, the work environment of that occupation, the typical education and training needed to enter the occupation, the median pay for workers in the occupation, and the job outlook over the coming decade for that occupation.

What are the key concepts in occupational health? ›

Some key concepts in OSH are: Occupational health and safety policy: policy to prevent work-related injury and ill health to worker(s) and to provide a safe and healthy workplace(s).

What are the main components of occupational health? ›

Components of an effective OHS management system
  • Management leadership and commitment. ...
  • Identifying hazards and managing risk. ...
  • Inspection of premises, equipment, workplaces & work practices. ...
  • Investigation of incidents. ...
  • Joint health and safety committee & representatives. ...
  • Occupational health and safety programs.
Feb 22, 2023

What are the two primary goals of occupational health and safety? ›

Answer & Explanation. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) became effective in 1970. Its primary goals are to foster safe and healthy workplaces and to encourage proactive education and outreach regarding these issues (Cihon & Cassandra, 2017).

What are the 5 SMART nursing goals? ›

What Are Nursing SMART Goals?
  • Be specific. Setting broad nursing goals allows them to be open for interpretation. ...
  • Keep it measurable. For goals to be effective, there must be some way to measure your progress. ...
  • Keep it attainable. ...
  • Be realistic. ...
  • Keep it timely.
Aug 3, 2018

What is occupational wellness goal? ›

Definition of Occupational Wellness

Occupational wellness allows you to explore various career options and encourages you to pursue the opportunities you enjoy the most. This dimension of wellness recognizes the importance of satisfaction, enrichment and meaning through work.

What is an example of an occupational goal? ›

Short-term goals: Hone skills that support stability in your role, build time management skills, build strong work relationships. Long-term goals: Earn a specific salary, get a job with strong benefits, practice work-life balance, build a strong reputation at work.

What are the 6 major categories of occupational hazards? ›

Workplace hazards fall into six core types – safety, biological, physical, ergonomic, chemical and workload.

What are the 4 major elements of an effective occupational safety and health program? ›

The four factors OSHA recommends include management commitment and employee involvement, worksite safety analysis, hazard prevention and control, and safety and health training.

What are the three 3 basic occupational skills? ›

Research has found there are three basic categories of skills in the world: knowledges, transferable skills and self-management skills.

What are the four pillars of practice occupational therapy? ›

1.4 The Framework is structured around four interacting Pillars of Practice, namely: Professional Practice; Facilitation of Learning; Leadership; and Evidence, Research and Development.

What are occupational skills? ›

Occupational skills are a set of knowledge and skills that employees need for a specific job or occupation. Employability skills or workplace skills prepare individuals for any job.

What is the strongest skill as a nurse? ›

The key to being a successful nurse is communication.

Communication skills are one of the most important requirements of a nurse's job—both following directions and communicating with patients and families. Patients who are sick or suffering often are not in a position of strength to speak up for themselves.

What are the strongest skills in nursing? ›

Ten Essential Skills for Nurses
  • Teamwork. ...
  • Networking. ...
  • Critical thinking and creative problem solving. ...
  • Professionalism. ...
  • Empathy. ...
  • Conflict resolution. ...
  • Adaptability. ...
  • Initiative and strong work ethic.
Jan 16, 2021

What are the 8 areas of occupation in occupational therapy? ›

The broad range of occupations is categorized in the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework (OTPF-4) as activities of daily living, instrumental activities of daily living, health management, rest and sleep, education, work, play, leisure, and social participation.

What is the unique role of occupational therapy? ›

Occupational therapy is unique because it helps people with disabilities improve their quality of life. It is a field that allows people with physical, cognitive, and communication impairments to do things they can do independently, like dress themselves or use a computer.

What is an occupational therapy objective resume? ›

Example: "Passionate, responsible and knowledgeable occupational therapist with one year of experience seeking a full-time position with South Gilbert Hospital to increase my medical skills and expertise and create a larger professional network."

What is the top occupational health concern of nurses? ›

Nurses can experience extreme physical or mental burnout or exhaustion due to stressful working conditions, a major safety issue in nursing.

What is the role of nurse in management of occupational hazards? ›

Occupational health nurses work to prevent, investigate, and treat workplace-related illnesses and injuries. To prevent workplace injuries and illnesses, occupational health nurses assess workplaces to identify possible hazards. These nurses also educate employers and employees on how to prevent accidents and injuries.

What does the focus of occupational health nursing include? ›

Occupational health nurses are registered nurses that focus on caring for the workforce. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), occupational health nurses work to assess workers' health status with respect to their job tasks and hazards.

Which is one of the most challenging areas for the occupational health nurse quizlet? ›

Corporations. Which of the following is one of the most challenging areas for the occupational health nurse (OHN)? Managing ethical conflicts between responsibilities to management and responsibilities to employees.

Which component of occupational health is the most important? ›

Planning. The first key component of any occupational health and safety (OHS) management system is planning. Whether you use a paper-based 'Safety Statement' or dedicated occupational health and safety (OHS) management software, planning should be front and centre of everything you do.

Which of the following is a unique characteristic of the role of the occupational health nurse? ›

Which of the following is a unique characteristic of the role of the occupational health nurse? The occupational health nurse role is unique in that the nurse adapts to an agency's needs and to the needs of specific groups of workers (i.e., coal miners, word processors, health care workers).

What is the summary section of a nursing resume? ›

What is a nursing resume summary? A nursing resume summary is a brief section at the top of your resume that highlights your relevant experiences, skills, and achievements. Typically, this summary is between one to four sentences long, meaning it is important to be concise when writing yours.

How to write a summary for a resume occupational therapy? ›

Start with a well-written occupational therapy resume objective or professional summary. In your professional summary, explain the benefits of hiring you, including your work history, your personal qualities, and your skills. Be sure to note how you engage with and provide care for patients.

What is the summary of nursing position? ›

Registered Nurse responsibilities include:

Monitoring patient's condition and assessing their needs to provide the best possible care and advice. Observing and interpreting patient's symptoms and communicating them to physicians. Collaborating with physicians and nurses to devise individualized care plans for patients.

What is the main purpose of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration quizlet? ›

It was created in 1970 to protect the rights and safety of the workers. Its responsibilities are to encourage employees and employers to reduce workplace hazards, improve existing safety, and monitor job related injuries and illnesses.

What is the importance of Occupational Safety and Health Administration? ›

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) assures safe and healthful working conditions by setting and enforcing standards, and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.

What is a good professional summary for a nurse? ›

Bringing experience, care, and extensive knowledge to help improve the lives of patients. * Compassionate and hard-working nurse looking for a position in a small-town hospital. Bringing my experience working in high-stress situations in the emergency room and other fields.

How do I make my nursing resume stand out? ›

10 Tips for Creating a Great Nursing Résumé
  1. Be Specific, Not Generic. ...
  2. Keep an Eye on Length. ...
  3. Proofread, Proofread, and Proofread. ...
  4. Highlight Success. ...
  5. List Computer Skills. ...
  6. Indicate Facility and Unit Type. ...
  7. Be Keyword Friendly. ...
  8. Include Education.

What is a good nursing objective for a resume? ›

To obtain a position in a Health Care Facility where I can utilize my skills, knowledge and experience to provide quality health care. Seeking a Registered nurse position which will give me an opportunity to expand my practical experience at the same time as providing quality health care to residents.

How do you write a strong summary for a resume? ›

An effective resume summary typically follows the following structure:
  1. Your experience summary (how many years, doing what, etc.)
  2. Your general experience (more specific skills, what's your focus)
  3. Your top achievements (career highlights, including quantifiable change and data)
Mar 21, 2023

What is a professional summary for resume healthcare? ›

A healthcare resume objective or summary, also called a professional profile, is meant to be the resume's version of an elevator pitch. A short paragraph in length, it gives hospital hiring managers a brief glimpse into your medical background, healthcare skills, hospital experience, and career goals.

How do you write a nursing assessment summary? ›

How to write a nursing progress note
  1. Gather subjective evidence. ...
  2. Record objective information. ...
  3. Record your assessment.
  4. Detail a care plan. ...
  5. Include your interventions. ...
  6. Ask for directions. ...
  7. Be objective. ...
  8. Add details later.
Mar 10, 2023

What is the summary of the nurses health Study? ›

The Nurses' Health Study is a series of prospective studies that examine epidemiology and the long-term effects of nutrition, hormones, environment, and nurses' work-life on health and disease development.


1. Overview of a Career in Nursing
2. What is an occupational health assessment? (S1E1)
(The Smart Clinic)
3. A Complete Nursing Career Overview
4. Brief Overview of a Career as a Registered Nurse
5. Federal Occupational Health Overview
6. What Nursing Career Is Right For You?
(Dress A Med)


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