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Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians

Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qj18Q4EhUQ.
Quick Facts: Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians
2023 Median Pay $77,580 per year
$37.30 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, 2022 138,400
Job Outlook, 2022-32 13% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2022-32 17,700

What Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians Do

Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians collect data on, analyze, and design improvements to work environments and procedures.

Work Environment

Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians work in a variety of indoor or outdoor settings, such as offices and factories or construction sites. Their jobs may involve considerable travel and fieldwork. Most work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week.

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 a related field. Occupational health and safety technicians typically need at least a high school diploma to enter the occupation, and they receive training on the job.

Pay

The median annual wage for occupational health and safety specialists was $81,140 in May 2023.

The median annual wage for occupational health and safety technicians was $57,920 in May 2023.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of occupational health and safety specialists and technicians is projected to grow 13 percent from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 17,200 openings for occupational health and safety specialists and technicians are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

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, analyze, and design improvements to many types of work environments and procedures. Specialists inspect workplaces and enforce adherence to regulations on safety, health, and the environment. Technicians work with specialists to implement and evaluate programs aimed at mitigating risks to workers, property, the environment, and the public.

Duties

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

  • Inspect, test, and evaluate workplace environments, programs, equipment, and practices to ensure that they follow government safety regulations
  • Design and implement workplace programs and procedures that control or prevent chemical, physical, or other risks to workers
  • Educate employers and workers about maintaining workplace safety
  • Demonstrate use of safety equipment and ensure proper use by workers
  • Investigate incidents to determine the cause and possible prevention
  • Prepare written reports of their findings

Occupational health and safety specialists examine worksites for environmental or physical factors that could harm employee health, safety, comfort, or performance. They then find ways to improve potential risk factors. For example, they may notice potentially hazardous conditions inside a chemical plant and suggest changes to lighting, equipment, materials, or ventilation.

Occupational health and safety technicians assist specialists by collecting data on work environments and implementing the worksite improvements that specialists plan. Technicians also may check to make sure that workers are using required protective gear, such as masks and hardhats.

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

In the event of a workplace safety incident, specialists and technicians investigate its cause. They then analyze data from the incident, such as the number of people impacted, and look for trends in occurrence. This evaluation helps them to recommend improvements to prevent future incidents.

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 113,800 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of occupational health and safety specialists were as follows:

Government 20%
Manufacturing 17
Construction 14
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 7
Hospitals; state, local, and private 3

Occupational health and safety technicians held about 24,700 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of occupational health and safety technicians were as follows:

Manufacturing 24%
Construction 9
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 9
Government 9
Hospitals; state, local, and private 3

Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians work in a variety of indoor or outdoor settings, such as offices and factories or construction sites. Their jobs may involve considerable travel and fieldwork.

The work of these specialists may be strenuous and involve a lot of standing, squatting, and lifting. It also may be stressful, such as in cases of emergency, falling debris, or other hazardous situations. To minimize the risk of illness or injury, they use gloves, helmets, respirators, and other personal protective and safety equipment.

Work Schedules

Most occupational health and safety specialists and technicians work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. Technicians may be on call to work weekends or irregular schedules in emergencies.

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

Occupational health and safety specialists
Occupational health and safety technicians usually receive some training on the job.

Occupational health and safety specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety or a related field. Technicians typically need at least a high school diploma to enter the occupation, and they receive training on the job. Some pursue professional certification.

Education

Occupational health and safety specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety or a related field, such as biology or healthcare and related majors. For some positions, a master’s degree is required. In addition to science, coursework should include topics such as ergonomics, safety management, and industrial hygiene.

Occupational health and safety technicians typically need at least a high school diploma to enter the occupation. High school students interested in this occupation should take classes in chemistry, biology, and physics. Some technicians earn an associate’s degree or certificate from a community college or university. These programs typically take 2 years or less and include courses in hazardous materials, fire prevention, and safety regulations.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Employers may prefer or require occupational health and safety specialists and technicians to have professional certification. This certification is available through several organizations, such as the Board for Global EHS Credentialing, Board of Certified Safety Professions, and National Association of Safety Professionals.

Obtaining certification typically requires graduating from an accredited educational program, completing work experience, and passing an examination. Maintaining certification usually requires completing a specified number of hours of continuing education.

Training

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

Occupational health and safety specialists sometimes receive on-the-job training. However, training is less common for specialists than it is for technicians.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Some employers prefer to hire occupational health and safety specialists who have prior experience in the industry. Specialists may gain this experience by working in a related occupation, such as health and safety engineer.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians deliver safety trainings and instruction to employees and managers. They also write reports that effectively convey their findings.

Detail oriented. Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians must be meticulous when checking work environments. They need to ensure that sites follow safety standards and government regulations.

Physical stamina. Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians must be able to stand for long periods and may have to squat or kneel. Some work in uncomfortable environments, such as tunnels or mines.

Problem-solving skills. Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians determine proper design and implementation of workplace processes or procedures to help protect workers from hazardous conditions.

Technology skills. Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians use a variety of digital tools and testing equipment, such as devices that measure air quality.

Pay About this section

Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians

Median annual wages, May 2023

Occupational health and safety specialists

$81,140

Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians

$77,580

Other healthcare practitioners and technical occupations

$61,020

Occupational health and safety technicians

$57,920

Total, all occupations

$48,060

 

The median annual wage for occupational health and safety specialists was $81,140 in May 2023. 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 $49,550, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $128,040.

The median annual wage for occupational health and safety technicians was $57,920 in May 2023. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $40,030, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $97,360.

In May 2023, the median annual wages for occupational health and safety specialists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Hospitals; state, local, and private $95,370
Manufacturing 82,160
Government 82,040
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 81,830
Construction 80,780

In May 2023, the median annual wages for occupational health and safety technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Construction $74,710
Manufacturing 63,170
Government 56,980
Hospitals; state, local, and private 53,310
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 50,630

Most occupational health and safety specialists and technicians work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. Some may be on call and work weekends or irregular hours in emergencies.

Job Outlook About this section

Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians

Percent change in employment, projected 2022-32

Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians

13%

Occupational health and safety specialists

13%

Other healthcare practitioners and technical occupations

11%

Occupational health and safety technicians

10%

Total, all occupations

3%

 

Overall employment of occupational health and safety specialists and technicians is projected to grow 13 percent from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 17,200 openings for occupational health and safety specialists and technicians are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians will be needed in a variety of industries and government agencies to ensure safe working conditions that comply with regulations.

In recent years, employers have emphasized worker health, safety, and wellness. This trend is expected to continue, which should contribute to increased demand for occupational health and safety specialists and technicians.

Among the factors contributing to this demand are the adoption of new technologies, such as robotics, that require updated safety practices and the need to protect workers from climate-related hazards, such as excessive heat.

Employment projections data for occupational health and safety specialists and technicians, 2022-32
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2022 Projected Employment, 2032 Change, 2022-32 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians

19-5000 138,400 156,100 13 17,700 Get data

Occupational health and safety specialists

19-5011 113,800 128,900 13 15,200 Get data

Occupational health and safety technicians

19-5012 24,700 27,200 10 2,500 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) 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 OEWS 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.org. 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 on Entry-Level Education 2023 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Construction and building inspectors Construction and Building Inspectors

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

High school diploma or equivalent $67,700
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.

Bachelor's degree $78,980
Fire inspectors and investigators Fire Inspectors

Fire inspectors detect fire hazards, recommend prevention measures, ensure compliance with state and local fire regulations, and investigate causes of fires.

See How to Become One $71,420
Health and safety engineers Health and Safety Engineers

Health and safety engineers combine knowledge of engineering and of health and safety to develop procedures and design systems to protect people from illness and injury and property from damage.

Bachelor's degree $103,690
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 $50,660

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about credentialing in industrial hygiene, visit

Board for Global EHS Credentialing (BGC)

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

Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP)

National Association of Safety Professionals (NASP)

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 and technicians, 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,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/occupational-health-and-safety-specialists-and-technicians.htm (visited June 10, 2024).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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 and Wage Statistics (OEWS) 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 and Wage Statistics (OEWS) 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).

2023 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 and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2023, the median annual wage for all workers was $48,060.

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, 2022

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2022, which is the base year of the 2022-32 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2022-32

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032. The average growth rate for all occupations is 3 percent.

Employment Change, 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

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 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

2023 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 and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2023, the median annual wage for all workers was $48,060.