Why Choose a Career in Safety?
First and foremost, occupational safety and health (OSH) professionals have rewarding jobs, creating safe work environments by preventing workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses. But choosing to be a safety professional isn’t only about being altruistic. It is also a practical decision. Safety careers offer job availability, excellent salaries and career advancement and leadership opportunities.
Grow Professionally in a Growing Profession
The safety profession is approximately 110,000 safety professionals strong, with employment opportunities across all safety-related roles projected to increase through 2024, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Growth is being driven by:
Organizations are increasingly focusing on reputation management — and keeping their workforces safe as a component of being perceived as a good corporate citizen.
More than half of safety professionals are quickly approaching retirement age, making room for new professionals to enter the field and seasoned professionals to advance.
As workplace safety evolves from being compliance-driven into a strategic return on investment and competitive advantage, and as today’s safety managers retire, the stage is being set for current safety professionals and newcomers to the field to both move up the ranks and take on increasingly valued roles.
What Do OSH Professionals Do?
OSH professionals advise, develop strategies, and lead workplace safety and health management. They provide advice, support and analysis to help employers establish risk controls and management processes that promote sustainable business practice. They work to reduce and eliminate fatalities, injuries, occupational illnesses, and property damage. They also provide advice on matters related to health and wellness and even security.
Safety professionals often specialize in different areas, such as ergonomics, industrial hygiene, training, occupational psychology and occupational health, or in allied professions such as nursing, fire protection engineering or physiotherapy. Others may be more involved in environmental management, emergency management or security. To explore OSH specialties that may interest you, read about our practice specialty member communities.
What OSH Professionals Need to Know
Safety professionals should have a fundamental knowledge of:
Read our detailed guidelines
- Evidence-Based Practice
- Professional Communication
- Risk Management
- Business Practices
- Informatics and Data Analysis
The OSH Career Path
OSH professionals take various paths into the profession. Some transition from other careers, but increasingly, students are choosing to study occupational safety and health in university programs. Graduates with the best career prospects generally attend an ABET-accredited applied sciences program.
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The OSH profession has two general career paths: vocational and managerial. Those who fall into the “vocational” group typically have two-year associate degrees and have titles including terms like “practitioner,” “technician,” “technologist” or “senior technical specialist.” Those on the “managerial” path have at least a four-year degree and often a master’s degree in safety, or an M.B.A. They often have titles such as “manager,” “director” or “vice president.”
You can find more details on the recommended education, experience and credentials for safety professionals in the OHS Professional Capability Framework: A Global Framework for Practice from International Network of Safety and Health Practitioners Organizations. ASSP is a founding member of INSHPO.
Read the capability framework
How ASSP Can Help You Along Your OSH Career Path
For more than 100 years, ASSP has been at the forefront of helping occupational safety and health professionals protect people and property. We aspire to help members reach their highest level of performance by connecting them to great resources and great people through a variety of offerings, including:
See ASSP member benefits