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How to Become an Occupational Health Nurse

Updated April 17, 2017

An occupational nurse is a certified nurse who works to encourage better health in their workplace. These nurses can work anywhere from small offices to large corporations and their duties including helping management provide a safe healthy workplace for employees, administering pre-employment medical checks, treating patients who become injured or sick while at work, giving preventive health education, training employees in first aid, giving risk assessments, maintaining employee health records and establishing emergency health plans. The field of occupational nursing is growing and many people are on their way to becoming an occupational health nurse.

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Do as well as possible in high school. To become a nurse, you will need constantly to strive to be the best among your peers. The nursing shortage has affected the openings in nursing schools. There are a lot of nursing schools with wait lists, so you want to ensure you always stand out.

Enrol in an undergraduate program. You will need to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. You can opt to go to a two year college then transfer to a university or start off at the university. Either option will work.

Specialise. You can specialise in occupational health in two ways. The first way is to work 3,000 hours in 5 years in health nursing. You can also complete a certificate program in occupational health nursing. Many colleges offer this as postgraduate degree program.

Pass Certified Occupational Health Nurse-Specialist (COHN-S). After passing the COHN-S, you will officially be certified.

Remain certified. Every five years you will need to recertify. To stay certified, you need 3,000 hours of occupational health work experience and 50 Continuing Nursing Education hours in occupational health practice.


It is possible to become a Certified Occupational Health Nurse with just an associate's degree. You would still need to complete Step 3 and then you would pass Certified Occupational Health Nurse board. This option does limit your job growth and earning potential.

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About the Author

Danielle Dean is a 2003 Magna Cum Laude graduate from the University of West Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She expanded into freelance writing in 2005. Dean joined Ehow in 2006 and has been publishing since that time.

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