Occupational safety and health may be a profession that doesn’t often receive attention, but it’s a rewarding career path with plenty of projected growth and opportunities. In this article, we take a closer look at why pursuing occupational safety and health can be a worthwhile career decision.
A safety professional’s goal is to ensure workplace safety and prevent illness and injuries in their organization. Preventing accidents and keeping workers safe can be a good fit for people who enjoy helping others.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported more than 122,000 jobs for occupational health and safety specialists and technicians in 2019, and that number is projected to grow by 4% over the next 10 years.
Safety professionals can work in a variety of different industries. According to the Safety+Health Magazine 2020 Job Outlook, the following were the most common industries for survey respondents:
- Manufacturing: 25%
- Construction: 19%
- Government: 13%
Although those three were the most common responses, safety professionals can also find jobs in education, health care, retail and many other sectors. As each of these individual industries grow, the need for health and safety specialists will also grow.
Shortage of Qualified Workers
The BLS data supports the idea that occupational safety and health is growing as a whole. More jobs are expected to be added, but will there be enough qualified safety professionals to fill those positions?
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reported in 2011 that the demand for safety professionals was greatly outpacing the supply. According to the report, 10% of safety professionals were expected to be retiring within a year of the survey, and 48% of the workforce was 50 years or older.
The Safety+Health 2020 Job Outlook supported the general notion that shortages of qualified workers still exist now. In the survey:
- 57% of respondents have personally observed a shortage of qualified occupational safety and health professionals.
- 60% of respondents indicated there aren’t any other employees in their organization who, with training, would be able to replace them within six months.
If you’re a qualified candidate in an industry with a labor shortage, you’ll have a stronger chance of getting the job you want.
Jobs within occupational safety and health also tend to have good job stability. Of the survey respondents in the Safety+Health 2020 Job Outlook, 90% believed their job to be very or relatively stable, and 94% believed the job market for safety and health professionals to be better than or the same as last year.
Another benefit of a career in occupational safety is the salary. According to the BLS, the median annual wage for safety specialists and technicians was $70,480 in May 2019, while the median annual wage for all occupations was $39,810.
In the Safety+Health Magazine 2019 Salary Survey, the most common salary range for respondents was between $100,000 and $125,999. The survey also revealed the importance of education; the most common range for respondents with a four-year or advanced degree was $100,000 and $125,999, while the most common range for respondents with some college was $80,000 to $89,999.
At Columbia Southern University, our occupational safety and health degree programs are taught by industry experts, and our bachelor’s and master’s degree programs are recognized by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals as Graduate Safety Practitioner® Qualified Academic Programs.
To learn more about degree programs that will help you meet the safety needs of today’s workplace, visit ColumbiaSouthern.edu/OSH or call (877) 347-6050.