School Safety Specialist: Job Info & Requirements

Find out what a school safety specialist does and how you can become one. Keep reading to see what the career prospects and earning potential are to decide if this career field is a good fit for you.

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Career Definition for School Safety Specialist

School safety specialists focus on ensuring the safety of teachers, students, and other staff in a school system. School safety specialists work with school administrators and local law enforcement to implement preventative programs, communicate with parents and the community, enforce rules at school events, and handle all safety-related issues. The recently established field of school safety focuses on creating and implementing emergency plans, visitor screening procedures, and other security measures, according to the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), www.uft.org. Some states, such as Indiana, now require every school system to have a school safety specialist to coordinate all school safety plans, serve on county school safety commissions, and act as the primary resource for all safety and security concerns in school and at school events.

Education Usually a bachelor's degree in occupational health, safety or other relevant field is required; CSP certification can be helpful
Job Skills Knowledgeable about school violence and prevention, strong communication and authority skills, passion for working with young people
Median Salary (2015) $70,210 (general safety specialists)
Job Growth (2014-2024) 4% (general safety specialists)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), occupational health and safety specialists, including school safety specialists, should earn a bachelor's degree in occupational health, safety, or another relevant field. Because school safety is a relatively new dedicated field, however, no standard education path is pre-determined. Many school safety specialists begin their careers in law enforcement or a security-related field, completing the appropriate educational and training requirements to enter those fields before moving into school safety. Aspiring school safety specialists may also consider becoming Certified Safety Professionals (CSPs) by fulfilling the education and occupational requirements of the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP), www.bcsp.org.

Skills Required

School safety specialists should be knowledgeable about the history, indicators, and established preventative measures of school violence. They should be comfortable with exercising authority, enforcing strict rules, and managing noncompliance issues. Most importantly, perhaps, school safety specialists should be capable communicators who enjoy working with young people and are passionate about their welfare.

Career Outlook

The BLS projects slower-than-average growth in the occupational health and safety field over the next decade, 4% from 2014-2024. However, school safety needs continue to grow nationwide, indicating a faster rate of growth could be seen in this particular sub-field. In May 2015, the median salary for general safety specialists was $70,210; data specifically for those specialists who work in schools was not available.

Alternate Career Options

Building Inspector

A building inspector ensures that structures are safe and meet federal, state or local construction or zoning standards and regulations. Building inspectors oversee the entire process of construction, from reviewing blueprints pre-construction to a final walk-through once the structure is completed, including tests of the heating, electrical, and plumbing systems. Building inspectors typically have at least a high school diploma, and often have postsecondary education in architecture or engineering. Having sufficient related experience is also a common requirement. Licensure and certification requirements are common and vary by location. The BLS reports that jobs in this field are likely to increase 8% from 2014-2024, and that these jobs paid a median salary of $57,340 in 2015.

Health and Safety Engineer

A health and safety engineer is responsible for making sure that workplace machinery and structures are safe for people, within established health and safety rules. In the event of a workplace safety incident, a health and safety engineer can investigate. Health and safety engineers usually have 4-year degrees in an area of engineering specialty. Some states require professional engineering licensing, which requires a series of exams and a minimum of work experience. Professional certification is also available. Jobs in this field are expected to increase 6% from 2014-2024, per the BLS. The median pay was $84,600 in 2015.

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