Occupational Safety Technician: Job Description and Information

Learn about the educational requirements for an occupational safety technician. Explore work duties, salary and employment outlook to decide if this is the right career for you.

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Career Definition for a Occupational Safety Technician

Occupational safety technicians (also known as health and safety professionals) inspect and collect data and evaluate potential hazards of the work place to ensure safety regulations are in place. Many travel extensively to examine work conditions and observe health and safety procedures. Ideally, the work of an occupational safety technician will reduce employee absenteeism by helping develop a more ergonomic workspace.

Education Associate's degree is the typical requirement, however, a bachelor's degree in healthcare administration or management may be required for a government position
Job Skills Knowledge of government health and safety policies and regulations, detail-oriented, and understanding of insurance claims and workers' compensation
Median Salary (May 2015)* $48,070 (occupational health and safety technicians)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 9% (occupational health and safety technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Educational Requirements

Although an associate degree might be sufficient for an entry-level position, some occupational safety technicians may work in government institutions that require a bachelor's degree in healthcare administration or healthcare management. Many employers also look favorably at certification. The Council on Certification of Health, Environmental and Safety Technologists offers a professional certificate, referred to as OHST, to technicians who continue to meet high government safety and inspection requirements. Occupational safety technicians can advance to a position in management by obtaining certification as Safety Trained Supervisors (STS), or by gaining a master's degree in healthcare administration or healthcare management.

Required Skills

Because occupational safety technicians document and inspect potential health hazards in the work environment, they require a fluent knowledge of government health and safety policies and regulations. Superior attention to detail and extensive knowledge concerning insurance claims and workers compensation are also necessary in this field.

Employment and Salary Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that because of the rise of worker's compensation in recent decades, many insurance companies seek occupational safety technicians in order to minimize work hazards and prevent accidents through a well-designed workspace. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for occupational safety technicians was $48,070 in 2015.

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Alternative Careers

Similar careers requiring more advanced education, but offering higher salaries, include the following:

Occupational Safety Specialist

Although some data and chemical sample collection activities may overlap those of an occupational safety technician, safety specialists also develop and execute new methods for keeping employees safe by examining work environments and reviewing accident reports. They also train management and employees about safety issues and practices.

Most occupational safety specialists earn a bachelor's degree in occupational safety, biology, chemistry or engineering before seeking employment, and master's degrees could be required for some jobs in the field. Professional certification is available for safety specialists and may provide an advantage when applying for positions.

With the development of new manufacturing technology and the increase of nuclear power production, the BLS predicts that employment opportunities for occupational safety specialists will increase by 4% between 2014 and 2024. In 2015, the BLS estimated that safety specialists received $70,210 in median yearly compensation.

Safety Engineer

For those who prefer to manage safety practices at a company and make safety modifications on equipment, becoming a safety engineer may be the right fit. Safety engineers explore machines and install modifications to make them safer to operate. They also determine if safety regulations and policies are being adhered to and make recommendations for new practices.

To enter the profession, a bachelor's degree in a relevant field such as chemical, electrical or industrial engineering is required, and a small number of states require licensure of safety engineers. Professional organizations such as the Board of Certified Safety Professionals and the American Board of Industrial Hygiene also offer certification that is beneficial when seeking a management job.

As determined by the BLS in 2015, over 25,000 non-mining health and safety engineers worked in the U.S. and earned a median salary of $84,600 that year. Employment growth of 6% is expected for this occupation during the 2014-2024 decade.

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