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Health and Safety Engineer Job Description, Career as a Health and Safety Engineer, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: College

Salary: Median—$63,730 per year

Employment Outlook: Fair

Definition and Nature of the Work

Health and safety engineers plan, implement, and coordinate safety programs to prevent or correct unsafe environmental working conditions. They promote workplace and product safety by identifying and monitoring potential hazards to people or property. They then apply an advanced knowledge of industrial processes and human performance principles to reduce or eliminate the risk of injury or damage.

To create a safe and environmentally sound workplace, engineers coordinate with outside organizations, such as fire departments or the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA); design and install safety devices on machinery or clothing; and investigate causes of industrial accidents to prevent further incidents. They also conduct tests to ascertain air quality, noise level, temperature, or radiation. Once the analysis is complete, they then consult with governmental organizations on how to handle such problems in compliance with safety regulations. Health and safety engineers then coordinate the training of workers on safety procedures using safety equipment, devices, and clothing.

At a wastewater treatment plant, a health and safety engineer takes a sample. (© Martha Tabor/Working Images Photographs. Reproduced by permission.)

Most health and safety engineers work in federal, state, or local government agencies. Others work in manufacturing industries.

Education and Training Requirements

A bachelor's degree in engineering is required for any position in health and safety engineering. Like other engineers, health and safety engineers must be licensed. A licensed engineer then becomes known as a professional engineer (PE). To be licensed, an engineer must have a degree from an accredited engineering program, four years of relevant work experience, and a passing score on a state examination. The first part of the examination, however, can be taken right after graduation from college. Once passing this exam, an engineer is then called an engineer in training (EIT) or an engineer intern (EI). The American Society of Safety Engineers offers a specialty certification program in this field.

Getting the Job

Most jobs in this field are concentrated in federal, state, or local government agencies. Candidates may have to take a civil service exam for these positions. For work in the manufacturing industry, candidates can apply directly to the company, check Internet job sites, or consult their college job placement center.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Experienced health and safety engineers can become responsible for larger and more important projects. They can also supervise other health and safety engineers or technicians on large-scale projects.

The job outlook for health and safety engineers is fair, as the field is expected to grow at the average rate through 2014. As the demand for healthy and safe work-places increases, the services of health and safety engineers will be in greater demand.

Working Conditions

Health and safety engineers generally work a standard forty-hour week in comfortable offices, laboratories, or industrial plants. They may be required to travel and work onsite if they are working on a particular project. Dealing with serious environmental and safety issues that directly affect the health and safety of humans and animals can be stressful.

Earnings and Benefits

The median annual salary for health and safety engineers is $63,730, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Experienced engineers can earn more than $92,870 per year.

Where to Go for More Information

American Society of Safety Engineers
1800 E. Oakton St.
Des Plaines, IL 60018
(847) 699-2929

National Safety Council
1121 Spring Lake Dr.
Itasca, IL 60143-3291
(630) 285-1121

Health, dental, and life insurance, 401K plans, and paid vacations are standard benefits for health and safety engineers.

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