Summary

health and safety engineers image
Health and safety engineers identify and correct potential hazards.
Quick Facts: Health and Safety Engineers
2016 Median Pay $86,720 per year
$41.69 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2016 25,900
Job Outlook, 2016-26 9% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 2,200

What Health and Safety Engineers Do

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.

Work Environment

Health and safety engineers typically work in offices. However, they also must spend time at worksites when necessary, which sometimes requires travel.

How to Become a Health and Safety Engineer

Health and safety engineers must have a bachelor’s degree, typically in environmental health and safety or in an engineering discipline. Employers value practical experience, so cooperative-education engineering programs at universities are valuable as well.

Pay

The median annual wage for health and safety engineers was $86,720 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of health and safety engineers is projected to grow 9 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as average for all occupations. As buildings, products, and processes continue to become more complex and new regulations are created, these engineers will be needed to reduce costs, save lives, and produce safe consumer products.

State & Area Data

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

Similar Occupations

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

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

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

What Health and Safety Engineers Do About this section

Health and safety engineers
Health and safety in the workplace is a major concern of 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.

Duties

Health and safety engineers typically do the following:

  • Maintain and apply knowledge of current health and safety policies, regulations, and industrial processes
  • Review plans and specifications for new machinery and equipment to make sure that they meet safety requirements
  • Identify and correct potential hazards by inspecting facilities, machinery, and safety equipment
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of various industrial control mechanisms
  • Ensure that buildings or products comply with health and safety regulations, especially after an inspection that required changes
  • Install safety devices on machinery or direct the installation of these devices
  • Review employee safety programs and recommend improvements

Health and safety engineers also investigate industrial accidents and injuries to determine their causes and to determine whether the incidents were avoidable or can be prevented in the future. They interview employers and employees to learn about work environments and incidents that lead to accidents or injuries. They also evaluate the corrections that were made to remedy violations found during health inspections.

Health and safety engineering is a broad field covering many activities. The following are examples of types of health and safety engineers:

Fire prevention and protection engineers conduct analyses and make recommendations regarding the potential fire hazards of buildings, materials, and transportation systems. They also design, install, and maintain fire prevention and suppression systems and inspect systems to ensure that they meet government safety regulations. Fire prevention and protection engineers must be licensed and must keep up with changes in fire codes and regulations.

Product safety engineers, sometimes called product compliance engineers, develop and conduct tests to make sure that various products are safe and comply with industry or government safety regulations. These engineers work on a wide range of products, from nuclear submarine reactors and robotics to cell phones and computer systems.

Systems safety engineers identify and analyze risks and hazards associated with system designs in order to make them safe while ensuring that the systems remain operational and effective. They work in many fields, including aerospace, and are moving into new fields, such as software safety, medical safety, and environmental safety.

For information on health and safety engineers who work in mines, see the profile on mining and geological engineers.

Work Environment About this section

Health and safety engineers
Health and safety engineers may need to spend time at worksites.

Health and safety engineers held about 25,900 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of health and safety engineers were as follows:

Manufacturing 25%
Construction 18
Government 13
Engineering services 7
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 5

Health and safety engineers typically work in offices. However, they also must spend time at worksites when necessary, which sometimes requires travel.

Work Schedules

Most health and safety engineers work full time.

How to Become a Health and Safety Engineer About this section

Health and safety engineers
Health and safety engineers inspect facilities, machinery, and safety equipment to identify and correct potential hazards.

Health and safety engineers must have a bachelor’s degree, typically in environmental health and safety or in an engineering discipline. Employers value practical experience, so cooperative-education engineering programs at universities are valuable as well.

Education

Entry-level jobs for health and safety engineers require a bachelor’s degree, typically in environmental health and safety or in an engineering discipline, such as electrical, chemical, mechanical, industrial, or systems engineering. Bachelor’s degree programs typically include classroom, laboratory, and field studies in applied engineering. Engineering students interested in becoming health and safety engineers also should take courses in occupational safety and health, industrial hygiene, ergonomics, or environmental safety. ABET accredits programs in engineering.

Many colleges and universities offer cooperative-education programs, which allow students to gain practical experience while completing their education.

A few colleges and universities offer 5-year accelerated programs through which students graduate with both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. A master’s degree allows engineers to enter the occupation at a higher level, from which they can develop and implement safety systems.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Health and safety engineers must be able to interpret federal and state regulations and their intent so that they can propose proper designs for specific work environments. Health and safety engineers also prepare and present training materials to workers and must be able to describe new regulations and procedures to a variety of audiences.

Creativity. Health and safety engineers produce designs showing potential problems and remedies for them. They must be creative, in order to deal with situations that are unique to a project.

Critical-thinking skills. Health and safety engineers must be able to identify hazards to humans and property in the workplace or in the home before those hazards cause material damage or become a health threat.

Observational skills. Health and safety engineers must observe and learn how operations function so that they can identify risks to people and property. This requires the ability to think in terms of overall processes within an organization. Health and safety engineers can then recommend systemic changes to minimize risks.

Problem-solving skills. In designing solutions for entire organizational operations, health and safety engineers must take into account processes from more than one system at the same time. In addition, they must try to anticipate a range of human reactions to the changes they recommend.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as a health and safety engineer. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience, typically at least 4 years
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

The initial FE exam can be taken after one earns a bachelor’s degree. Engineers who pass this exam are commonly called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE).

Each state issues its own licenses. Most states recognize licensure from other states, as long as the licensing state’s requirements meet or exceed their own licensure requirements. Several states require continuing education for engineers to keep their licenses.

Health and safety engineers can earn professional certifications, including the following:

Pay About this section

Health and Safety Engineers

Median annual wages, May 2016

Engineers

$91,010

Health and safety engineers, except mining safety engineers and inspectors

$86,720

Total, all occupations

$37,040

 

The median annual wage for health and safety engineers was $86,720 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 $50,580, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $134,110.

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

Engineering services $95,790
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 92,380
Government 86,470
Manufacturing 85,950
Construction 77,530

Most health and safety engineers work full time.

Job Outlook About this section

Health and Safety Engineers

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Health and safety engineers, except mining safety engineers and inspectors

9%

Engineers

8%

Total, all occupations

7%

 

Employment of health and safety engineers is projected to grow 9 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Health and safety engineers are employed mainly in construction, manufacturing, state and local government, and engineering and consulting firms. As buildings, products, and processes continue to become more complex and new regulations are created, these engineers will be needed to reduce costs, save lives, and produce safe consumer products.

Employment projections data for health and safety engineers, 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

Health and safety engineers, except mining safety engineers and inspectors

17-2111 25,900 28,100 9 2,200 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 health and safety engineers.

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
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
Industrial engineers

Industrial Engineers

Industrial engineers find ways to eliminate wastefulness in production processes. They devise efficient systems that integrate workers, machines, materials, information, and energy to make a product or provide a service.

Bachelor's degree $84,310
Mining and geological engineers

Mining and Geological Engineers

Mining and geological engineers design mines to safely and efficiently remove minerals such as coal and metals for use in manufacturing and utilities.

Bachelor's degree $93,720
Occupational health and safety specialists

Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians

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.

See How to Become One $66,820

Contacts for More Information About this section

For information about general engineering education and career resources, visit

American Society for Engineering Education

American Society of Safety Engineers

Technology Student Association

For more information about accredited engineering programs, visit

ABET

For more information about the Professional Engineer license, visit

National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying

National Society of Professional Engineers

For information about protecting worker health, visit

American Industrial Hygiene Association

For information about certification, visit

American Board of Industrial Hygiene

American Society of Safety Engineers

Board of Certified Safety Professionals

International Council on Systems Engineering

O*NET

Fire-Prevention and Protection Engineers

Health and Safety Engineers, Except Mining Safety Engineers and Inspectors

Industrial Safety and Health Engineers

Product Safety Engineers

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Health and Safety Engineers,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/health-and-safety-engineers.htm (visited October 31, 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.