Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians

Summary

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Quick Facts: Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians
2016 Median Pay $66,820 per year
$32.13 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education See How to Become One
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training See How to Become One
Number of Jobs, 2016 101,800
Job Outlook, 2016-26 8% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 8,100

What Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians Do

Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians collect data on and analyze many types of work environments and work procedures. Specialists inspect workplaces for adherence to regulations on safety, health, and the environment. Technicians work with specialists in conducting tests and measuring hazards to help prevent harm to workers, property, the environment, and the general public.

Work Environment

Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians work in a variety of settings, such as offices or factories. Their jobs often involve considerable fieldwork and travel. Most work full time.

How to Become an Occupational Health and Safety Specialist or Technician

Occupational health and safety specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety or in a related scientific or technical field. Occupational health and safety technicians typically enter the occupation through one of two paths: on-the-job training or postsecondary education, such as an associate’s degree or certificate.

Pay

The median annual wage for occupational health and safety specialists was $70,920 in May 2016.

The median annual wage for occupational health and safety technicians was $48,820 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of occupational health and safety specialists and technicians is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Specialists and technicians will be needed in a wide variety of industries to ensure that employers adhere to both existing and new regulations.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for occupational health and safety specialists and technicians.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of occupational health and safety specialists and technicians with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about occupational health and safety specialists and technicians by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians Do About this section

Occupational health and safety specialists
Occupational health and safety specialists inspect workplaces for adherence to regulations on safety, health, and the environment.

Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians collect data on and analyze many types of work environments and work procedures. Specialists inspect workplaces for adherence to regulations on safety, health, and the environment. Technicians work with specialists in conducting tests and measuring hazards to help prevent harm to workers, property, the environment, and the general public.

Duties

Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians typically do the following:

  • Inspect, test, and evaluate workplace environments, equipment, and practices to ensure that they follow safety standards and government regulations
  • Prepare written reports on their findings
  • Design and implement workplace processes and procedures that help protect workers from hazardous work conditions
  • Evaluate programs on workplace health and safety
  • Educate employers and workers about workplace safety by preparing and  providing training programs
  • Demonstrate the correct use of safety equipment
  • Investigate incidents and accidents to identify what caused them and how they might be prevented

Occupational health and safety specialists examine the workplace for environmental or physical factors that could affect employee health, safety, comfort, and performance. They may examine factors such as lighting, equipment, materials, and ventilation. Technicians may check to make sure that workers are using required protective gear, such as masks and hardhats.

Some develop and conduct employee safety and training programs. These programs cover a range of topics, such as how to use safety equipment correctly and how to respond in an emergency.

Work Environment About this section

Occupational health and safety specialists
Occupational health and safety technicians often work with complex equipment to test and evaluate workplace environments and equipment.

Occupational health and safety specialists held about 83,700 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of occupational health and safety specialists were as follows:

Government 26%
Manufacturing 15
Construction 8
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 6
Hospitals; state, local, and private 4

Occupational health and safety technicians held about 18,100 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of occupational health and safety technicians were as follows:

Government 17%
Manufacturing 15
Construction 9
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 8
Hospitals; state, local, and private 7

Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians work in a variety of settings, such as offices or factories. Their jobs often involve considerable fieldwork and travel. They may be exposed to strenuous, dangerous, or stressful conditions. They use gloves, helmets, respirators, and other personal protective and safety equipment to minimize the risk of illness and injury.

Work Schedules

Most occupational health and safety specialists and technicians work full time. Some may work weekends or irregular hours in emergencies.

How to Become an Occupational Health and Safety Specialist or Technician About this section

Occupational health and safety specialists
Specialists and technicians carry out and evaluate programs on workplace safety and health.

Occupational health and safety specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety or in a related scientific or technical field. Occupational health and safety technicians typically enter the occupation through one of two paths: on-the-job training or postsecondary education, such as an associate’s degree or certificate.

Education

Occupational health and safety specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety or a related scientific or technical field, such as engineering, biology, or chemistry. For some positions, a master’s degree in industrial hygiene, health physics, or a related subject is required. In addition to science courses, typical courses include ergonomics, writing and communications, occupational safety management, and accident prevention.

Employers typically require technicians to have at least a high school diploma. High school students interested in this occupation should complete courses in English, mathematics, chemistry, biology, and physics.

Some employers prefer to hire technicians who have earned an associate’s degree or certificate from a community college or vocational school. These programs typically take 2 years or less. They include courses in respiratory protection, hazard communication, and material-handling and storage procedures.

Important Qualities

Ability to use technology. Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians must be able to use advanced technology. They often work with complex testing equipment.

Communication skills. Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians must be able to communicate safety instructions and concerns to employees and managers. They frequently prepare written reports and prepare and deliver safety training to other workers.

Detail oriented. Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians need to understand and follow safety standards and complex government regulations.

Physical stamina. Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians must be able to stand for long periods and be able to travel regularly. Some work in environments that can be uncomfortable, such as tunnels or mines.

Problem-solving skills. Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians must be able to solve problems in order to design and implement workplace processes and procedures that help protect workers from hazardous conditions.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although certification is voluntary, many employers encourage it. Certification is available through several organizations, depending on the field in which the specialists work. Specialists must have graduated from an accredited educational program and have work experience to be eligible to take most certification exams. To keep their certification, specialists usually are required to complete periodic continuing education.

Occupational safety and health specialists and technicians can earn professional certifications including the following:

  • The Board of Certified Safety Professionals offers the following certifications:
    • Certified Safety Professional (CSP) certification
    • Associate Safety Professional (ASP)
    • Occupational Health and Safety Technologist (OHST)
    • Construction Health and Safety Technician (CHST)
  • The American Board of Industrial Hygiene awards a certification known as a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH)

Training

Occupational health and safety technicians usually receive on-the-job training. They learn about specific laws and inspection procedures, and learn to conduct tests and recognize hazards. The length of training varies with the employee’s level of experience, education, and industry in which he or she works.

Some technicians enter the occupation through a combination of related work experience and training. They may take on health and safety tasks at the company where they are employed. For example, an employee may volunteer to complete annual workstation inspections for an office in which he or she already works.

Pay About this section

Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians

Median annual wages, May 2016

Occupational health and safety specialists

$70,920

Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians

$66,820

Other healthcare practitioners and technical occupations

$59,260

Occupational health and safety technicians

$48,820

Total, all occupations

$37,040

 

The median annual wage for occupational health and safety specialists was $70,920 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $41,320, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $104,460.

The median annual wage for occupational health and safety technicians was $48,820 in May 2016. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,820, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $79,990.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for occupational health and safety specialists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Manufacturing $71,980
Hospitals; state, local, and private 70,170
Construction 69,410
Government 67,650
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 67,320

In May 2016, the median annual wages for occupational health and safety technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Construction $54,180
Government 48,750
Manufacturing 48,070
Hospitals; state, local, and private 43,380
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 43,250

Most occupational health and safety specialists and technicians work full time. Some specialists may work weekends or irregular hours in emergencies.

Job Outlook About this section

Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Other healthcare practitioners and technical occupations

12%

Occupational health and safety technicians

10%

Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians

8%

Occupational health and safety specialists

8%

Total, all occupations

7%

 

Employment of occupational health and safety specialists is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment of occupational health and safety technicians is projected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.

Specialists and technicians will be needed to work in a variety of industries and government agencies to ensure that employers are adhering to both existing and new regulations. In addition, specialists will be necessary because insurance costs and workers’ compensation costs have become a concern for many employers and insurance companies. An aging population is remaining in the workforce longer than past generations did, and older workers usually have a greater proportion of workers’ compensation claims.

Job Prospects

Applicants for jobs as occupational health and safety specialists or technicians with a background in the sciences, experience in more than one area of health and safety, or certification will have the best prospects.

Employment projections data for occupational health and safety specialists and technicians, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians

29-9010 101,800 109,900 8 8,100 employment projections excel document xlsx

Occupational health and safety specialists

29-9011 83,700 90,100 8 6,400 employment projections excel document xlsx

Occupational health and safety technicians

29-9012 18,100 19,800 10 1,700 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of occupational health and safety specialists and technicians.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2016 MEDIAN PAY Help
Construction and building inspectors

Construction and Building Inspectors

Construction and building inspectors ensure that construction meets local and national building codes and ordinances, zoning regulations, and contract specifications.

High school diploma or equivalent $58,480
Environmental scientists and specialists

Environmental Scientists and Specialists

Environmental scientists and specialists use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment and human health. They may clean up polluted areas, advise policymakers, or work with industry to reduce waste.

Bachelor's degree $68,910
Fire inspectors and investigators

Fire Inspectors

Fire inspectors examine buildings in order to detect fire hazards and ensure that federal, state, and local fire codes are met. Fire investigators, another type of worker in this field, determine the origin and cause of fires and explosions. Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists assess outdoor fire hazards in public and residential areas.

See How to Become One $56,130
Health and safety engineers

Health and Safety Engineers

Health and safety engineers develop procedures and design systems to protect people from illness and injury and property from damage. They combine knowledge of engineering and of health and safety to make sure that chemicals, machinery, software, furniture, and other products will not cause harm to people or damage to property.

Bachelor's degree $86,720
Environmental science and protection technicians

Environmental Science and Protection Technicians

Environmental science and protection technicians monitor the environment and investigate sources of pollution and contamination, including those affecting public health.

Associate's degree $44,190

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about credentialing in industrial hygiene, visit

American Board of Industrial Hygiene

For more information about occupations in safety, a list of safety and related academic programs, and credentialing, visit

Board of Certified Safety Professionals

For more information about occupational health and safety, visit

U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

To find job openings for occupational health and safety positions in the federal government, visit

USAJOBS

CareerOneStop

For a career video on occupational health and safety specialists, visit

Occupational Health and Safety Specialists

O*NET

Occupational Health and Safety Specialists

Occupational Health and Safety Technicians

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/occupational-health-and-safety-specialists-and-technicians.htm (visited November 22, 2017).

Last Modified Date: Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2016

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2016, which is the base year of the 2016-26 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2016-26

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.