Occupational health and safety personnel examine workplaces and create programs that help prevent employee injury or illness. While some programs offer a master's degree in occupational health and safety, others award master's degrees in related disciplines, such as safety and security or public health, with an occupational health and safety concentration. Many schools offer these master's degree programs online.
Students usually already have a bachelor's degree and a job in the field and are looking to move up the career ladder to a management position. Other prerequisites may include minimum undergraduate GPAs, GRE scores and completed coursework in science, math and engineering.
Master's Degree in Occupational Health and Safety
Class topics cover the basics of managing workplace health and safety. Students learn how to design, evaluate and implement programs that promote safer work environments. They are also taught how to handle emergency situations and, when possible, how to prevent them from occurring. Often the completion of an internship and/or thesis is required for graduation. Programs may include some of the following subject matter:
- Industrial hygiene
- Disaster preparedness and communication
- Epidemiology and disease theory
- Health and safety program design and integration
- Disease management in international settings
- Safety laws and litigation
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that employment of occupational health and safety specialists will grow 4% between 2014 and 2024, which will be slower than average for all professions. As of May 2015, the BLS also reported that occupational health and safety specialists earned a median annual salary of $70,210.
Continuing Education Information
Master's degree holders can go on to pursue doctoral study in occupational health and safety. The Ph.D. is usually offered in public health, with a concentration in environmental and occupational safety. Graduates of these programs are prepared for leadership and research positions in the field. They can go on to specialize in a diverse range of areas, including toxicology, ergonomics, indoor air quality and occupational reproductive risks.
Employees in the field of occupational health and safety who already hold a bachelor's degree can pursue a master's degree in this field to advance their career.