How to Become an Occupational Health Nurse
Occupational health nurses are responsible for ensuring safety in the workplace, and they are often the first ones on call when an injury occurs on the job. If you think you would do well as an occupational health nurse, you will need to go through the necessary training to become one. The guide here explains how to become an occupational nurse, from the college education to the certification and beyond. Every occupational health nurse goes through a slightly different process to start his or her career, so you may need to adjust this slightly to reflect your situation. If you remain dedicated to the process, you should be able to enter into a rewarding career path.
Step 0 – Determine If This Is the Right Career for You
Before you can learn how to become an occupational health nurse, you need to figure out if this is the right career for you. Qualities of a good occupational health nurse include:
- The ability to work on a team
- A keen eye for occupational health hazards
- A general knowledge of medical issues and solutions
- An approachable, kind, and caring personality
- The ability to work in stressful situations
Occupational health nurses work in businesses, not hospitals. Thus you will need to be capable of adjusting to new work environments based on the employers you work under. As an occupational health specialist, you will need to understand the dangers of your work place and do whatever it takes to help people avoid them. You may be asked to consult with the management team for a company to figure out ways to promote employee safety, or you may be called upon to watch over a certain sector of a company. Whatever the case may be, you have to be flexible enough to get the job done. If you think this sounds like the perfect opportunity for you, read the rest of this guide to learn how to become an occupational health nurse.
Step 1 – Get an Education
To become an occupational health nurse, you will need to obtain a college degree in nursing. There are several different options to consider, and almost all of them could lead you to a career in some communities. Possible degree programs include:
- Diploma in Nursing (DN)
- Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN)
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
- Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
If you want to have guaranteed employment no matter where you go, you need to go through a four year baccalaureate program. That will allow you to have all knowledge you need to work as an RN or an occupational health nurse in the future. If you want to work in management, education, or research, you will need to pursue an MSN or higher. This will take an additional two years of education, but you can work while you go through your degree. You can always take online classes to give you the best scheduling options possible, or you can try to maneuver your work schedule around your time on campus. That is up to you.
Step 2 – Pass a Licensure Exam
With your education behind you, you will be able to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to obtain your RN certification. Then you will be able to work alongside other nurses because you can show that you know enough to successfully get through this career field. If you do not pass your exam in the first round, you can retake it until you gain your nursing license.
Step 3 – Gain Work Experience
You may need to work in a hospital setting for at least a year before becoming an occupational health nurse. Some people do this when they complete their associate’s degree program, especially if they are taking courses online. If you obtain your RN certification early enough, you can work while you go to school so you can enter the field right after graduation.
Step 4 – Find a Job
Finding a job as an occupational health nurse should not be too difficult because there is a high demand for these workers at the moment. You may want to look at some of the salary opportunities in different businesses because some pay better than others. As long as you have the right education and experience to apply for a job, you should be able to secure a steady income well into the future.