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Protecting The People: How To Become An Occupational Safety Specialist

safety manager with employee in the field

Workplace safety is not only something to consider in obviously dangerous locations. Each year, thousands of people are injured in the office or on the job, and many of these accidents are preventable. An occupational safety expert provides professional-grade consulting that makes work environments safer on physical and social fronts.


They promote peace, prevent harm and ensure that workplaces are up to code with local, state and federal, and environmental standards. If you're interested in human resources careers and similar fields, then this job may be ideal for you. Here's what you need to know about how to become an occupational safety specialist.


Best Degrees to Pursue

A degree in occupational safety and applied sciences is the best match for someone who aspires to become a professional in the future. However, other disciplines can also be useful, especially at the undergraduate level. Additional certification or a graduate program in occupational safety or industrial management can help you hone your knowledge and become an expert in the field. Programs such as fire science, emergency management, environmental health, and industrial management all make good fits for undergraduate students. These degrees are also flexible enough that you can open numerous career paths and graduate program opportunities upon graduation.


The cost of education will differ depending on the school, your location, and your prior academic experience. However, you can expect a bachelors to cost at least $20,000. At a prestigious school, undergraduate programs can cost over $60,000 with room and board.



You can get a better idea of how much you can afford to pay for your education by exploring private student loan options. Personal loans from private lenders allow students to pay for school on their own terms. Greater principal amounts, fixed low-interest rates, and co-signer options all make them more flexible than federal-issued loans or financial assistance.


Job Description

There are many roles you may take on in this field, and even the title of your job might vary based on your employer. Some of the most common titles are environmental and safety manager, director of safety, and occupational health specialist. These professionals perform a number of tasks related to workplace prevention and security.


Your primary job duty will be developing safety strategies and plans, then integrating them into the workplace at every level. You will ensure that organizations are both efficiently trained and properly equipped with everything they need to keep their environment as safe as possible. This includes things like CPR and first aid response, emergency medical intervention plans, personal injury and property damage threats, and equipment operation. Additional responsibilities include:

  • Analyzing, observing, and compiling research into reports and strategies.

  • Conducting routine risk assessments and integrating appropriate preventive measures.

  • Researching and producing environmental compliance reports in adherence with all levels of environmental regulations.

You will need good communication skills in both writing and speaking. Although your center of operations may be an office, you will also likely perform job site inspections. In a consultation or coaching role, you would travel to different locations and conduct presentations and employee training workshops.


Regulations and Requirements

Any specialist in this field must be well-versed in OSHA regulations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is a part of the United States Department of Labor. This organization is committed to ensuring every individual is protected, and it promotes the value that everyone deserves to work in a secure environment. Even those who have high-risk jobs should be confident that their employers have taken every measure necessary to prevent undue harm and prepare them to handle any of the hazards they may face in their line of work. As a specialist, it will be your job to ensure that every facet of the workplace is in accordance with the relevant OSHA laws and regulations. These include construction and maritime regulations, whistleblowing protection, record-keeping practices, and training standards.


How Much Does an Occupational Safety Specialist Make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual median income is $76,340. For technicians, who work under specialists, the median salary was $56,340 as of May 2020. The growth rate for this job is projected at 4 percent through 2029. The BLS lists both on-the-job training and postsecondary degrees as educational tracks for this career, so carefully reviewing job listings near you can help you decide which direction you want to take your journey.



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