Occupational Health and Safety Technicians

Summary

occupational health and safety technicians image
Occupational health and safety technicians conduct tests and measure hazards in the workplace.
Quick Facts: Occupational Health and Safety Technicians
2015 Median Pay $48,070 per year
$23.11 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2014 15,100
Job Outlook, 2014-24 9% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 1,400

What Occupational Health and Safety Technicians Do

Occupational health and safety technicians collect data on the health and safety conditions of the workplace. Technicians work with occupational health and safety 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 technicians work in a variety of settings, such as offices, factories, and mines. Their jobs often involve considerable fieldwork and travel. Most work full time.

How to Become an Occupational Health and Safety Technician

Occupational health and safety technicians typically enter the occupation through one of two paths. Some technicians learn through on-the-job training; others enter with postsecondary education such as an associate’s degree or certificate.

Pay

The median annual wage for occupational health and safety technicians was $48,070 in May 2015.

Job Outlook

Employment of occupational health and safety technicians is projected to grow 9 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Technicians will be needed to conduct tests, measure hazards, and ensure that employers are adhering to existing and new safety and health regulations.

State & Area Data

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

Similar Occupations

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

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

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

What Occupational Health and Safety Technicians Do About this section

Occupational health and safety technicians
Occupational health and safety technicians inspect and evaluate workplace environments, equipment, and practices to ensure they follow safety standards and government regulations.

Occupational health and safety technicians collect data on the health and safety conditions of the workplace. Technicians work with occupational health and safety 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 technicians typically do the following:

  • Inspect, test, and evaluate workplace environments, equipment, and practices to ensure that they follow safety standards and government regulations
  • Collect samples of potentially toxic materials
  • Work with occupational health and safety specialists to fix hazardous conditions or equipment
  • Evaluate programs on workplace health and safety
  • Educate employers and workers about workplace safety
  • Demonstrate the correct use of safety equipment
  • Investigate incidents and accidents to identify what caused them and how they might be prevented

Technicians conduct tests and collect samples and measurements as part of workplace inspections. For example, they may collect and handle samples of dust, mold, gases, vapors, or other hazardous materials. They conduct both routine and special inspections that an occupational health and safety specialist orders.

Technicians inspect workplace environments and practices. They may examine machinery and equipment, such as scaffolding and lifting devices, to be sure that they meet appropriate safety regulations. Technicians may check to make sure that workers are using required protective gear, such as masks and hardhats. Technicians also check to ensure that hazardous materials are stored correctly.

In addition to working to maintain employee health and safety, technicians work with specialists to increase worker productivity by reducing absences and equipment downtime. These actions save companies money by lowering insurance premiums and workers’ compensation payments, preventing government fines, and improving productivity and product quality.

Although all occupational health and safety technicians work to maintain the health of workers and the environment, their responsibilities vary by the type of industry and workplace they work in and the hazards that might affect the employees. For example, a technician may test the levels of dangerous gases at a waste-processing plant or may inspect the lighting and ventilation in an office setting. Both of these inspections are focused on maintaining the health of the workers and the environment.

The following are examples of types of occupational health and safety technicians:

Health physics technicians work in places that use radiation and radioactive material. Their goal is to protect people and the environment from hazardous radiation exposure.

Industrial or occupational hygiene technicians examine the workplace for health hazards, such as exposure to lead, asbestos, pesticides, or contagious diseases.

Mine examiners inspect mines for proper airflow and potential health hazards, such as the buildup of methane or other harmful gases.

Work Environment About this section

Occupational health and safety technicians
Technicians take measurements and collect workplace data either for routine inspection or as directed by a specialist.

Occupational health and safety technicians held about 15,100 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most occupational health and safety technicians were as follows:

Government 18%
Manufacturing 16
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 10
Hospitals; state, local, and private 7
Support activities for mining 6

Occupational health and safety technicians work in a variety of settings, including offices, factories, and mines. Most private companies either employ their own occupational health and safety workers or contract with firms that provide such services.

Their jobs often involve considerable fieldwork and travel. In addition, occupational health and safety technicians may be exposed to strenuous, dangerous, or stressful conditions. Injuries are minimized by the use of gloves, helmets, and other safety equipment.

Work Schedules

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

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

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

Occupational health and safety technicians typically enter the occupation through one of two paths. Some technicians learn through on-the-job training; others enter with postsecondary education, such as an associate’s degree or certificate.

Education

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.

Postsecondary programs include instruction on standard laws and procedures; however, some on-the-job training usually is required to familiarize the technician with specific work environments.

Training

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.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Certification is not required for someone to become an occupational health and safety technician; however, many employers encourage it.

To apply for certification, technicians must have earned a high school diploma, possess related on-the-job experience, and pass a standardized health and safety exam. The Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) offers the following certifications at the technician level:

The Construction Health and Safety Technician (CHST) Certification requires the applicant to have specific education or experience in construction safety. These technicians protect workers on construction sites from injury or illness.

The Occupational Health and Safety Technologist (OHST) Certification is designed for workers who perform occupational health and safety tasks full or part time as part of their job duties.

Important Qualities

Ability to use technology. Occupational health and safety technicians often work with computers and complex testing equipment.

Communication skills. Occupational health and safety technicians must be able to work with specialists to collect and test samples of possible hazards, such as dust or vapors, in the workplace.

Detail oriented. Occupational health and safety technicians must be able to understand and follow safety standards and complex government regulations.

Physical stamina. Occupational health and safety technicians must be able to stay on their feet for long periods and travel on a regular basis.

Problem-solving skills. Occupational health and safety technicians must be able to solve problems in order to assist specialists in protecting workers from hazardous work conditions.

Advancement

Occupational health and safety technicians can become occupational health and safety specialists by earning a bachelor’s degree or advanced degree.

Pay About this section

Occupational Health and Safety Technicians

Median annual wages, May 2015

Other healthcare practitioners and technical occupations

$57,990

Occupational health and safety technicians

$48,070

Total, all occupations

$36,200

 

The median annual wage for occupational health and safety technicians was $48,070 in May 2015. 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 $30,610, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $77,780.

In May 2015, the median annual wages for occupational health and safety technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Government $48,740
Support activities for mining 47,540
Manufacturing 46,400
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 44,930
Hospitals; state, local, and private 42,010

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

Job Outlook About this section

Occupational Health and Safety Technicians

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Other healthcare practitioners and technical occupations

10%

Occupational health and safety technicians

9%

Total, all occupations

7%

 

Employment of occupational health and safety technicians is projected to grow 9 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Technicians will be needed to conduct tests, measure hazards, and ensure that employers are adhering to existing and new safety and health regulations.

In addition, technological advances will allow for the use of new machinery, and technicians will be needed to conduct inspections and evaluate usage of the machinery with regard to worker health and safety.

Insurance and workers’ compensation costs have become a concern for many employers and insurance companies. Because older workers usually have a greater incidence of workers’ compensation claims, these costs can become higher with an aging population remaining in the workforce longer. Occupational health and safety technicians will be needed to work with occupational health and safety specialists in maintaining safety for all workers.

Although most occupational health and safety technicians work under the supervision of specialists, technicians can complete many routine tasks with little or no supervision. As a result, some employers may operate with more technicians because they are more cost effective than specialists.

Job Prospects

Applicants for jobs as occupational health and safety technicians with knowledge or a background in the sciences and 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 technicians, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Occupational health and safety technicians

29-9012 15,100 16,500 9 1,400 [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.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet 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 technicians.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2015 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 $57,340
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. In addition, they work to ensure that environmental violations are prevented.

Associate's degree $43,030
Fire inspectors and investigators

Fire Inspectors

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

See How to Become One $54,790
Occupational health and safety specialists

Occupational Health and Safety Specialists

Occupational health and safety specialists analyze many types of work environments and work procedures. Specialists inspect workplaces for adherence to regulations on safety, health, and the environment. They also design programs to prevent disease or injury to workers and damage to the environment.

Bachelor's degree $70,210

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about occupational health and safety technicians, visit

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

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

For information on industrial or occupational hygiene, visit

American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA)

For more information on careers in safety and a list of safety and related academic programs, visit

Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP)

Information about jobs in state and local governments and in private industry is available from state employment service offices.

O*NET

Occupational Health and Safety Technicians

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Occupational Health and Safety Technicians,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/occupational-health-and-safety-technicians.htm (visited July 24, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015

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. This tab may also provide information on earnings in the major industries employing the occupation.

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 Career InfoNet.

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).

2015 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 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.

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, 2014

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2014, which is the base year of the 2014-24 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2014-24

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

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 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

2015 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 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.