Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians collect data on and analyze many types of work environments and work procedures.
What they do
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.
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.
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.
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 and/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 degree or certificate.
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 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.
The median annual wage for occupational health and safety specialists was $74,100 in May 2019. 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 $43,630, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $111,130.
Employment of occupational health and safety specialists is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment of occupational health and safety technicians is projected to grow 5 percent from 2019 to 2029, 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.
Similar Job Titles
Technician: Advisory Industrial Hygienist; Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH); Construction Safety Consultant; Health and Safety Technician; Industrial Hygiene Consultant; Industrial Hygiene Engineer; Industrial Hygienist; Safety and Environmental Compliance Officer; Safety Research Professional; Safety, Health, and Environmental Engineer (SHE Engineer)
Specialist: Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH); Chemical Hygiene Officer; Environmental Health and Safety Officer; Environmental, Health, and Safety Officer (EHS Officer); Industrial Hygienist; Industrial Hygienist Consultant; Safety Consultant; Safety Management Consultant; Safety Officer; Safety Specialist
Environmental Engineering Technician, Occupational Health and Safety Specialist, Fire Inspector, Agricultural Inspector, Construction and Building Inspector
Environmental Compliance Inspector, Industrial Safety and Health Engineer, Product Safety Engineer, Soil and Water Conservationist, Occupational Health and Safety Technician
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- American Board of Industrial Hygiene
- American Chemical Society
- American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists
- American Industrial Hygiene Association
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- Board of Certified Safety Professionals
- National Fire Protection Association
- National Safety Council
Magazines and Publications
- OHS Magazine
- Safety and Health Magazine
- Industry Safety and Hygiene News Magazine
- Health and Safety International Magazine
Safety on the job is no accident; occupational health and safety specialists and technicians keep workplaces as accident-free as possible, by looking for safer, healthier, and more efficient work practices. Occupational health and safety specialists inspect workplaces to ensure they meet safety and environmental regulations. They examine factors such as lighting, ventilation, and whether materials are stored or disposed of correctly. Occupational health and safety technicians work with specialists to conduct tests and measure hazards. They may perform checks to make sure workers are using required protective gear, such as masks and hardhats. After a workplace accident or injury occurs, occupational health and safety specialists and technicians investigate potential causes and plan how to prevent future events. They may develop training programs to correct risky conditions, and coordinate rehabilitation for injured employees. Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians generally work full time, and travel from their offices or factories to conduct fieldwork. They use gloves, respirators, and other gear to minimize exposure to hazards. In emergencies, they work weekends and irregular hours. Occupational health and safety specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety or a related field, while technicians typically enter the field through on-the-job training, or a related associate’s degree or certificate.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org