Health and safety engineers essential information:
- 2011 median pay: $75,470
- 2010, number of jobs: 23,700
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 13 percent
- Entry level education requirements: Bachelor’s degree
Health and safety engineers; what they do:
Health and safety engineer careers attract people who care about preventing others from getting sick or injured and demonstrate a keen ability to adapt to changing environments, situations and challenges. Health and safety engineers combine knowledge of health, safety and systems engineering to ensure chemical biohazards, machinery, software and other products won’t harm people or buildings. Health and safety engineering also involves investigating industrial accidents, injuries, or work-related diseases to determine their causes and implement prevention.
The field of health and safety engineering includes positions such as aerospace safety engineers, fire protection and prevention engineers, product safety engineers and systems safety engineers.
Health and safety engineers play an active role in two related fields: Industrial hygiene and occupational hygiene. In industrial hygiene, health and safety engineers focus on the effects of physical, chemical, and biological agents.
They analyze and control hazardous agents to prevent people from getting injured or sick. In occupational hygiene, health and safety engineers investigate work environments and utilize science and engineering to recommend changes to ensure workers don’t get exposed to sickness or injuries.
Health and safety engineers job titles:
- Health and Safety Consultant
- Environmental Safety Specialist
- Chief Security and Safety Officer
- Environmental Safety Manager
- Corporate Health, Safety and Security Manager
- Environmental Affairs Manager
- Environmental Health and Safety Director
- Health and Safety Manager
Health and Safety Engineers Education, Certification and License Requirements
Typically, a person seeking a health and safety engineer career needs a bachelor’s degree in electrical, mechanical, chemical, industrial or some other engineering field.
Students interested in entering the relatively new field of software safety engineering should pursue a computer science degree. Applicable bachelor’s degree programs, typically four-year programs, include classroom, lab, and field studies in applied engineering.
Employers value hands-on experience, thus students should consider taking a college cooperative-education engineering program. Some colleges offer health and safety engineering courses designed in conjunction with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). These programs incorporate field experience into the curriculum.
Health and safety engineers programs cover subjects such as:
- Industrial hygiene
- Industrial ergonomics
- Hazardous materials management
- Safety supervisor
- Safety project management
ABET (formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) accredits engineering programs.
Career Advancement Opportunities
A few schools provide five-year accelerated programs leading to both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. A master’s degree allows engineers to enter the field at a higher level providing them opportunities to create and implement safety systems.
Health and Safety Engineers Job Outlook
Forecast: 13 percent employment growth for health and safety engineers from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Health and safety engineers work in manufacturing industries to lower costs, save lives, and produce safe consumer products. Health and safety engineers also apply the same principles in sectors such as health care, accident prevention lowers costs.
The emerging field of software safety engineering plays an increasing role in powering employment in health and safety engineering. Software development and implementation is an exact science in every aspect, especially when controlling products such as automobiles. Any problem with software could seriously injure people and damage a vehicle. As a result, applying the principles of systems safety engineering should grow.
Health and Safety Engineers Salary
- 2011 median annual wage: $75,470
- 2011 workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $75,470
- 2011 workers at the 25th percentile annual wage: $58,840
Health and Safety Engineers Major Employers
- State government
- Local government
- Architectural, engineering and related services
- Management, technical and scientific consulting services