There are roughly five schools in Alabama that offer degree programs related to safety engineering, but several of these programs are at the graduate level. Aside from degrees in safety engineering, safety engineering may also be offered as a focus or concentration in an engineering degree program.
Students looking to enter a graduate degree or certificate program will need a bachelor's degree, and may also need work experience in the field. Graduate students may be required to complete a thesis or a dissertation. All levels of students gain hands-on experience through practicum courses and internships. The following paragraphs provide overviews for four of the not-for-profit institutions with programs that can prepare students to pursue safety engineering careers.
Located in Auburn, this institution provides graduate degree and certificate programs in industrial and systems engineering with a focus option in occupational safety ergonomics. At the master's degree level, students can pursue a professional or research-based option. Both programs require students to complete the same courses, but the research-based program requires each student to write a thesis. Students can also elect to enroll in the doctoral degree program in this field, which includes additional coursework and a dissertation. Graduate-level courses for the master's or doctoral degree programs include safety engineering, ergonomics, human factors engineering, methods engineering, ergonomics laboratory and industrial safety. There is also a practicum course, which requires students to take field trips and participate in clinical field training through occupational safety activities.
Lastly, the school has a graduate certificate program that focuses on occupational safety and ergonomics, which includes 15 units of coursework. Courses include ergonomics studies, human factors, safety studies and industrial hygiene.
Jacksonville State University
At Jacksonville State University, students can pursue a bachelor's degree program in occupational safety and health management. Courses in the occupational safety and health management degree program discuss topics like industrial safety management, fire safety technology, industrial training, quality control, employer employee relations, industrial hygiene, hazard control technology and industrial ergonomics. Students are also required to complete an industrial internship.
University of Alabama at Birmingham
There aren't any undergraduate safety engineering programs offered at this campus in Birmingham, but students can find a master's degree program in advanced safety engineering and management. As of 2013, six faculty members taught this program. Admission requirements include holding a bachelor's degree in a related field and having five years of work experience in the safety industry. Incoming students also need a letter of recommendation from a current supervisor.
Curriculum requirements include 15 units of business and leadership courses, 12 units of engineering and technical courses and six units in advanced safety engineering and management development courses. Topics discussed may include safety audits and investigations, value and decision models, assessment, hazard lists, occupational biomechanics, professional ethics and business practice policies.
University of Alabama at Huntsville
Students at this Huntsville school have several safety engineering degree options available. Undergraduates can earn a bachelor's degree in engineering with a concentration in industrial and systems engineering. Required courses for the concentration include probability and engineering statistics, work design, operations research, systems analysis, inventory control systems and facilities design.
Graduate programs in this field include master's and doctoral degree programs in engineering with concentration options in systems engineering and industrial engineering. Industrial engineering courses cover systems modeling, operations research, system simulation, economic analysis and quality control. Courses in the systems engineering concentration include integrated product and process design, decision analysis and engineering systems. Students in the master's programs also choose two smaller areas of study totaling six credits each. The doctoral programs require 60 credits of coursework beyond the bachelor's level, and students must complete a dissertation in addition to courses and comprehensive/qualifying examinations.
Also referred to as industrial engineers or occupational health and safety specialists, safety engineers inspect job sites to determine such factors as whether an office is ergonomically compliant, factory production lines are set up efficiently or environmental factors are creating potential hazards for employees. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, these workers generally only require bachelor's degrees to find employment. As of 2013, licensure and certification for these workers still remained voluntary.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Safety Engineering Degrees Offered||Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)|
|Auburn University||4-year; public; small city|| Master of Industrial and Systems Engineering with a focus in occupational safety and ergonomics,
Master of Science in Industrial and Systems Engineering with a focus in occupational safety and ergonomics,
Graduate Certificate in Occupational Safety and Ergonomics,
Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial and Systems Engineering with a focus in occupational safety and ergonomics
|$10,418 in-state; $28,022 out-of-state (graduate figures)*|
|Jacksonville State University||4-year; public; small city||Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety and Health Management||$7,500 in-state; $14,700 out-of-state (undergraduate figures)*|
|University of Alabama at Birmingham||4-year; public; midsize city||Master of Engineering in Advanced Safety Engineering and Management||$7,340 in-state; $16,628 out-of-state (graduate figures)*|
|University of Alabama at Huntsville||4-year; public; midsize city|| Bachelor of Science in Engineering - Industrial and Systems Engineering,
Master of Science in Engineering with a concentration in industrial engineering,
Master of Science in Engineering with a concentration in systems engineering,
Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering with a with a concentration in industrial engineering,
Doctor of Philosophy in with a concentration in systems engineering
| $9,128 in-state; $20,622 (undergraduate figures)*
$9,548 in-state; $21,402 out-of-state (graduate figures)*
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics.