Should I Become a Product Safety Engineer?
Product safety engineers test products to determine whether they're safe for use by consumers. If safety hazards are found, product safety engineers come up with solutions so that safety risks can be reduced. Knowledge of mechanical, chemical and systems engineering is essential. Product safety engineers also help companies compile product usage instructions and safety warnings for consumers.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree|
|Degree Field||Engineering disciplines: electrical, mechanical, industrial, etc.|
|Licensure/Certification||Some states require licensure; certification is common|
|Experience||Practical experience is preferred|
|Key Skills||Creativity, deductive reasoning, problem-solving|
|Salary (2015)||$84,600 (median for health and safety engineers)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
A bachelor's degree in an engineering discipline is usually the minimum education requirement for product safety engineers. Possible majors include electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering and aerospace engineering. Bachelor's degree programs in engineering may take longer to complete than most other bachelor's degree programs, and some programs can last 5-6 years.
Engineering students typically spend their first two years taking basic science and general education courses, such as chemistry, calculus, physics, English composition and humanities. Their remaining years are spent taking general engineering courses, design and engineering courses that are concentrated in their chosen specialty.
- Secure an internship or co-op. Many undergraduate programs offer internships or co-ops to students in their final year of school. These programs allow students to work hands-on and apply classroom learning to real-life situations.
Step 2: Gain Work Experience
Most employers require a few years of previous experience working in product safety or engineering. Previous work or internship experience may help a person develop or improve the skills needed to work as a product safety engineer, including communication and presentation skills, analytical abilities, customer service skills, creativity and attention to detail. Those who are familiar with working as a part of a team, troubleshooting, reading and interpreting regulations, managing projects, following testing protocols and using a technical writing style may have an easier time finding employment.
Step 3: Get Licensed/Certified
Not all states require product safety engineers to be licensed. However, licensure typically entails holding a bachelor's degree from an ABET-accredited school, passing exams and having a certain amount of work experience, which may vary depending on the state.
Product safety engineers may increase their job prospects by earning the Certificate in Safety Management from the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE). To earn certification, a person must attend required seminars and complete a certain number of continuing education units, which may be earned by attending workshops and other events. The ASSE also offers a more advanced certification for more experienced product safety engineers, known as the Executive Program in Safety Management. Additionally, the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) offers a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) certification for those who have a bachelor's degree and at least three years of professional experience.
- Continue education. To keep up with certification, CSP-members must earn at least 25 recertification points every five years. Continuing education is usually a requirement to renew state licensing as well.