Safety Professionals: Demand in the U.S.

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Safety leader demonstrates a fire extinguisher to warehouse workers.Safety is a fundamental component of a productive workplace. It is also a right granted to workers through federal law. If a business is lax about meeting safety standards and regulations, it can face a host of consequences, including increased risk of worker injury, reduced productivity and negative impact on not only its bottom line but its public image.

With so much at stake, it makes sense for companies to do what they can to ensure a safe work environment for their workers. Safety professionals can play a key role in making sure a company has effective policies and meets crucial benchmarks for job safety. Those interested in a career in a safety-based profession would do well to explore earning a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety. This degree is often the first step safety professionals take toward entering this field, which is marked by steady, consistent demand.

Demand for Safety Professions

A career in safety is a career of reliable job prospects and opportunities. Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects job growth for occupational health and safety specialists and technicians to be 7% between 2020 and 2030, there is more to the demand for safety professionals than job growth numbers suggest.

Because safety is a worker’s right, and because the consequences of an unsafe workplace are always going to be high, there will always be a need for qualified safety professionals to make sure organizations are operating in a manner that prioritizes safety and protects workers from harm. The steady growth of the construction industry is a perfect example of this. As long as there are new construction projects happening, there will also be a need for safety professionals to make sure these sites operate in a safe, legally compliant manner.

Recent federal funding for infrastructure and a positive overall outlook for commercial and infrastructure construction are expected to increase the demand for safety professionals even more. As a 2019 report by environmental, health and safety advisor EHS noted, “Commercial and residential construction, as well as infrastructure projects, will fuel construction industry growth, leading to an increased need for safety professionals well versed in construction-specific hazards and controls.”

An even more significant factor are the demographics of the safety profession itself, according to EHS. Both an aging workforce and new initiatives centered around diversity are expected to create new openings for safety professionals at a rapid pace throughout the coming decade.

Safety Professional Salary

Those who complete a bachelor’s degree in occupational safety and pursue a career in the occupational safety field can potentially land a role that is as rewarding as it is important. According to the salary aggregate site Payscale, the median annual salary for professionals with a bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety was $73,000 as of August 2021. Payscale also highlights a broad salary range for the degree that stretches from $35,000 to $142,000.

Several reasons contribute to this broad range in a safety professional’s salary. Education level plays a contributing role, as does experience in the profession. The precise type of role in the safety field can also play a determining factor in salary level. Positions that entail greater responsibility, such as setting policy or managing a team, and positions in higher-risk industries typically pay more.

Job location can also impact a safety professional’s annual salary. A person working in a city or a region with a higher average cost of living or a higher demand for safety professionals will likely receive a higher annual salary.

Careers in Health and Safety

Earning a bachelor’s degree in occupational safety can prepare an individual to take advantage of a broad spectrum of intriguing career paths. While each of these careers in health and safety has responsibilities that approach safety in different ways, the common goal is to make sure a business is taking safety as seriously as possible.

Fire Inspector

Fire inspectors examine buildings to find potential fire hazards and ensure a building’s federal, state and local fire codes are properly satisfied. They also test a building’s fire-related safety equipment such as fire alarms and sprinklers. Additionally, they review a building’s evacuation plans and lead fire and safety education programs. Professionals in this field can also concentrate on fire investigation, a role that examines the causes of fires and works with other professionals, such as chemists and attorneys, to help build legal cases for criminally-based incidents.

The BLS lists the 2021 median annual salary of fire investigators at $63,080.

Safety Manager

Safety managers monitor a company’s safety procedures and operations to ensure a safe and legally compliant work environment. They can oversee the removal of hazardous materials from a workplace, such as biological or chemical waste. They also act as advisors to a company’s administrative team, keeping them abreast of potential safety and compliance issues. Additionally, they analyze and maintain incident reports and provide safety training for a company’s employees.

Payscale listed the median annual salary for safety managers at around $72,660 as of August 2022.

Industrial Hygienist

Industrial hygienists examine, research and analyze the way various hazards can potentially impact a worker’s health. These hazards can include chemical, biological, physical or ergonomic hazards as well as air contaminants. They also provide recommendations for businesses to address and rectify the issues that could lead to illness or injury if left unchecked.

The median annual salary for industrial hygienists as of August 2022 was approximately $80,000, per Payscale.

Safety Engineer

Safety engineers use their knowledge of current health and safety regulations to build and design compliant safety systems, procedures and equipment. They review the specifications of a wide range of workplaces and apparatus, including facilities, machinery and safety equipment, identifying vulnerabilities within the specs and recommending methodologies to correct these issues. They can also review employee safety programs and recommend ways to improve their procedures.

The BLS lists the 2021 median annual salary for the profession at $99,040.

Lead Businesses and Their Employees to Safety

The work of safety professionals keeps employees protected from harm, keeps organizations compliant, and prevents a host of workplace accidents and incidents from happening. As long as there is a need to keep workers protected, there will always be a need for professionals to make sure they stay safe. In other words, safety is here to stay, and so are the careers that keep it in place.

Eastern Kentucky University’s online Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety program can help you gain the knowledge and skills to build and maintain safe work environments. Our program is designed to prepare you to help organizations of any size and type offer workspaces that protect and value employees, and it also trains you to keep current with new regulations and emerging industry trends.

Learn how EKU can help you take on a career in this important and always-needed industry.

Recommended Readings

8 Environmental Health and Safety Careers You Should Consider

How to Conduct a Job Hazard Analysis

What Is Occupational Safety and Why Does It Matter?


EHS, “Big Growth–and Change–Expected for the Safety Profession”

Houston Chronicle, “Duties of Fire Investigators”

Indeed, “How to Become a Safety Engineer in 6 Steps

Indeed, Safety Manager Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Industrial Safety & Hygiene News, “How Does Your Safety Culture Impact Workers?”

Occupational Safety & Health Administration, Industrial Hygiene

Occupational Safety & Health Administration, OSHA Worker Rights and Protections

Occupational Safety & Health Administration, Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs

Payscale, Average Industrial Hygienist Salary

Payscale, Average Safety Manager Salary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Construction Workers and Helpers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Fire Inspectors

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians