Occupational safety professionals are responsible for the well-being of 130 million people in the workforce, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). As a result of a thriving American labor force, the occupational safety careers are on the rise to protect workers, employers, and the general public from job-related hazards.
The industry employs more than 100,000 people, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). BLS also estimates that the occupational health and safety industry is expected to grow as much as 10 percent over the next eight years.
Occupational health and safety specialists enforce Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) rules and regulations at companies to protect workers from job-related hazards and industries. Safety professionals also draft written reports based on their findings after jobsite visits, as well as educate workers and employers on the latest OSHA safety standards.
According to the College Board, almost two out of five occupational health and safety specialists work for the government on the local, state, or federal level. Major companies such as Amazon, Boeing, and Disney also employ occupational health and safety specialists.
Occupational safety careers can also be found at hospitals and medical offices, health departments, manufacturing plants, educational institutions such as colleges and universities, theme parks and other enterprises.
The right candidate is comfortable using the latest technology, has exceptional and clear oral and written communication skills, pays close attention to detail, and possesses excellent quick-thinking and problem-solving skills. Occupational health and safety specialists generally spend most of their workday out in the field and must be physically capable of standing for extended periods of time, as well as traveling from site to site on a regular basis.
Occupational Safety Careers A bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety from an accredited university, plus any necessary certifications, is required for all occupational health and safety specialist careers in the public or private sector. They earn an average annual salary of $66,820, according to the BLS.
Some of the most popular careers include:
1 – Safety Engineer
Average annual salary: $86,720
Safety engineers monitor workplaces to ensure that required safety standards are followed and implemented. Responsibilities include inspecting and testing a company’s operating equipment for proper function, as well as reviewing plans to safely bring in new machinery, examine buildings for hazardous violations, and make safety recommendations.
Optional certifications: Certificate in Safety Management from the American Society of Safety Engineers.
2 – Industrial Hygienist
Average annual salary: $69,442
Industrial hygienists are responsible for keeping workers safe and healthy on the job. They concentrate on managing harmful conditions such as indoor air quality, hazardous waste management, and lead exposure. They also educate and advise workplace management on the best possible safety and health rules and regulations for workers and their families and make sure those policies are properly implemented.
Optional certifications: Industrial Hygienist Certificate from the American Board of Industrial Hygiene.
3 – Environmental Health and Safety Specialist
Average annual salary: $59,790
Environmental health and safety specialists usually work for the government and typically inspect manufacturing work environments, such as mines and production plants, where big machinery is frequently used. They enforce rules and regulations related to safety, including reducing workers’ exposure to pollutants, and developing a plan of action when hazards are found.
Optional certifications: Environmental Health and Safety Certificate from the Institute for Safety and Health Management Certifications.
4 – Safety Coordinator
Average annual salary: $57,978
A safety coordinator works with companies and businesses to diminish workplace hazards that can result in an injury to the worker, thus keeping the overall costs of workplace accidents to a minimum. Safety coordinators work closely with employees at all levels to develop policies and protocols that protect workers from harm. In the event of an accident on the job, safety coordinators will conduct a thorough investigation.
Optional certifications: Safety Professional or Associate Safety Professional Certificate from the Board of Certified Safety Professionals.
5 – Fire Protection Engineer
Average annual salary: $78,415
Fire protection engineers work with employers and employees to eliminate possible fire risks in buildings and surrounding areas. In addition to decreasing fire risks at places of employment, fire protection engineers develop policies and protocol for workers to follow in the event of a fire emergency. Ultimately, their goal is to protect workers and workplace environments as well as property from damage caused by fires and smoke.
Optional certifications: Certified Fire Protection Specialist from the National Fire Protection Association.
Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) offers an online bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety to meet the demands of the rapidly growing field. Students can take full advantage of the program’s cutting-edge education without stepping foot in the classroom. In addition to a bachelor’s degree, students should explore certification options to ensure their working knowledge is in compliance with the latest federal standards for workplace safety.
EKU’s program can be completed in as little as two and a half years and prepares students for the workforce through professional opportunities such as internships and career development. The school offers five online concentrations degrees in occupational health and safety:
- Fire Protection Administration
- Fire Protection and Safety Engineering Technology
- Homeland Security
- Occupational Safety
- Emergency Medical Care, Administrative Option
About Eastern Kentucky University’s Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety Program
EKU’s online Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety program helps students learn how to identify and analyze potential workplace hazards, infractions, and risks, making them marketable job candidates in a rapidly growing industry of safety professionals. The program offers a top-notch curriculum as well as professional development and on-the-job training from industry-experienced safety professionals. The fully accredited program prepares graduates with the professional experience that employers are seeking. For more information, contact EKU.