Training programs in safety engineering and safety engineering management are commonly available as certificate, bachelor's and master's degree programs. Coursework will vary by level, but some areas of study include safety evaluation, emergency plan development, accident investigation and hazardous materials usage. Graduates of degree programs may qualify for certification.
Certificate in Safety Engineering
Students prepare for entry-level positions in safety engineering by studying the basics of risk analysis, air pollution, accident reporting, fire protection and product safety design. Safety engineers duplicate the critical components of a given system, prepare for emergencies like chemical spills and demonstrate the health benefits of ergonomic design. Programs are offered at technical colleges, as well as through some engineering departments at 4-year universities. Undergraduate-level certificates take 1-2 semesters to complete; applicants are expected to have completed high school.
Budding safety engineers learn to assess risk and design systems to minimize danger and strain while maximizing redundancies in safety-critical systems. Topics of study include:
- Accident investigation
- Industrial hygiene
- Regulatory compliance
- Safety audits
Bachelor's Degree in Fire and Safety Engineering Technology
Fire and safety engineers apply their expertise by managing emergency field-operations and designing safer buildings, as well as improving on safety gear and procedures. Students in 4-year fire and safety engineering technology bachelor's degree programs learn to investigate fire damage and discover what protective elements failed in a given situation. Students train for leadership positions in the field of emergency response, like local fire departments. Applicants to fire safety and engineering technology programs are required to have graduated high school.
Undergraduate programs in safety engineering teach students to implement efficient strategies, manage teams of emergency responders and understand human behavior in response to a fire. Students learn building construction and to reconstruct fire scenes; core coursework includes:
- Fire behavior
- Hazardous material
- Technical drawing
- Water supply
Master's Degree in Safety Engineering and Emergency Management
Students in graduate-level safety engineering programs focus on preparation for terrorist attacks and the prevention of injuries by designing liabilities out of products. Emergency services management, homeland security, ergonomics, fire safety and occupational safety are all emphasized in training. Graduate programs take 18-24 months to complete. Applicants are required to have earned a bachelor's degree; recommended fields of undergraduate study include engineering and the physical sciences.
Master's degree programs offer students courses like chemical process safety and disaster preparedness, allowing students to learn that safety fundamentals are equally applicable to small-scale and large-scale emergencies. Commonly offered coursework includes:
- Emergency plan development
- Explosion engineering
- Information security
- Safety evaluation
Because the education requirements for firefighters only stipulate applicants must have completed high school, earning an undergraduate degree may help working professionals advance an existing career. Bachelor's degree program graduates are qualified to work in a variety of positions:
- Fire insurance specialist
- Fire protection engineer
- Industrial safety consultant
According to the BLS, 318,790 firefighters were employed across various fields, as of May 2015. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security employs other emergency and safety professionals; job titles available to master's degree program graduates include:
- Chemical safety officer
- Fire safety officer
- Information security professional
- Security director
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many employers prefer to hire firefighters who have some courses or an associate's degree in fire science or a related topic (www.bls.gov). The BLS predicted that job opportunities for firefighters would grow 5% from 20124-2024. The same source reported that firefighters earned a median annual wage of $46,870, as of May 2015.
Continuing Education and Certification Information
Graduate-level certificate programs in safety engineering are available, and these programs can be completed in one semester of study. Programs focus on risk reduction and accident prevention for industries like chemical engineering or mining.
Two recognized certifications are available within the field of emergency management and safety engineering. Both credentials require applicants to have earned an accredited degree, though not specifically in safety, as well as the completion of a certain amount of on-the-job, safety experience.
Safety engineering degrees and certifications can help safety professionals advance their careers and become more knowledgeable about safety issues