Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians collect data on and analyze many types of work environments and work procedures. Technicians work with specialists in conducting tests and measuring hazards to help prevent harm to workers, property, the environment, and the general public.

Duties

Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians typically do the following:

  • Inspect, test, and evaluate workplace environments, equipment, and practices to ensure that they follow safety standards and government regulations
  • Prepare written reports on their findings
  • Design and implement workplace processes and procedures that help protect workers from hazardous work conditions
  • Evaluate programs on workplace health and safety
  • Educate employers and workers about workplace safety by preparing and  providing training programs
  • Demonstrate the correct use of safety equipment
  • Investigate incidents and accidents to identify what caused them and how they might be prevented

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Work Environment

Occupational health and safety technicians held about 19,900 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of occupational health and safety technicians were as follows:

Manufacturing 18%
Government 14
Construction 11
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services                       7
Hospitals; state, local, and private 5

Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians work in a variety of settings, such as offices or factories. Their jobs often involve considerable fieldwork and travel. They may be exposed to strenuous, dangerous, or stressful conditions. They use gloves, helmets, respirators, and other personal protective and safety equipment to minimize the risk of illness and injury.

Work Schedules

Most occupational health and safety specialists and technicians work full time. Some may work weekends or irregular hours in emergencies.

Education and Training

Occupational health and safety technicians typically enter the occupation through one of two paths: on-the-job training or postsecondary education, such as an associate’s degree or certificate.

Education

Employers typically require technicians to have at least a high school diploma. High school students interested in this occupation should complete courses in English, mathematics, chemistry, biology, and physics.

Some employers prefer to hire technicians who have earned an associate’s degree or certificate from a community college or vocational school. These programs typically take 2 years or less. They include courses in respiratory protection, hazard communication, and material-handling and storage procedures.

Training

Occupational health and safety technicians usually receive on-the-job training. They learn about specific laws and inspection procedures, and learn to conduct tests and recognize hazards. The length of training varies with the employee’s level of experience, education, and industry in which he or she works.

Some technicians enter the occupation through a combination of related work experience and training. They may take on health and safety tasks at the company where they are employed. For example, an employee may volunteer to complete annual workstation inspections for an office in which he or she already works.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although certification is voluntary, many employers encourage it. Certification is available through several organizations, depending on the field in which the specialists work.

Occupational safety and health specialists and technicians can earn professional certifications including the following:

  • The Board of Certified Safety Professionals offers the following certifications:
    • Certified Safety Professional (CSP) certification
    • Associate Safety Professional (ASP)
    • Occupational Health and Safety Technologist (OHST)
    • Construction Health and Safety Technician (CHST)
  • The American Board of Industrial Hygiene awards a certification known as a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH)
Personality and Interests

Occupational health and safety technicians typically have an interest in the Building and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Building interest area indicates a focus on working with tools and machines, and making or fixing practical things. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.

If you are not sure whether you have a Building or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as an occupational health and safety technician, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

Occupational health and safety technicians should also possess the following specific qualities:

Ability to use technology. Occupational health and safety technicians often work with computers and complex testing equipment.

Communication skills. Occupational health and safety technicians must be able to work with specialists to collect and test samples of possible hazards, such as dust or vapors, in the workplace.

Detail oriented. Occupational health and safety technicians must be able to understand and adhere to specific safety standards and government regulations.

Physical stamina. Occupational health and safety technicians must be able to stay on their feet for long periods of time and to travel on a regular basis.

Problem-solving skills. Occupational health and safety technicians must be able to use their skills to find solutions to unsafe working conditions and environmental concerns in the workplace.

Pay

The median annual wage for occupational health and safety technicians was $51,550 in May 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,830, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $89,720.

In May 2019, the median annual wages for occupational health and safety technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Construction $58,340
Government 51,030
Manufacturing              
50,080
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services     46,390
Hospitals; state, local, and private 43,350

Most occupational health and safety specialists and technicians work full time. Some may work weekends or irregular hours in emergencies.

Job Outlook

Employment of occupational health and safety technicians is projected to grow 7 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations.

Specialists and technicians will be needed to work in a variety of industries and government agencies to ensure that employers are adhering to both existing and new regulations. An aging population is remaining in the workforce longer than past generations did, and older workers usually have a greater proportion of workers’ compensation claims.

Job Prospects

Applicants for jobs as occupational health and safety technicians with a background in the sciences, experience in more than one area of health and safety, or certification will have the best prospects.

For More Information

For more information about credentialing in industrial hygiene, visit

American Board of Industrial Hygiene

For more information about occupations in safety, a list of safety and related academic programs, and credentialing, visit

Board of Certified Safety Professionals

For more information about occupational health and safety, visit

U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

To find job openings for occupational health and safety positions in the federal government, visit

USAJOBS

CareerOneStop

For a career video on occupational health and safety specialists, visit

Occupational Health and Safety Specialists

 

FAQ

Where does this information come from?

The career information above is taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. This excellent resource for occupational data is published by the U.S. Department of Labor every two years. Truity periodically updates our site with information from the BLS database.

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I think I have found an error or inaccurate information on this page. Who should I contact?

This information is taken directly from the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Truity does not editorialize the information, including changing information that our readers believe is inaccurate, because we consider the BLS to be the authority on occupational information. However, if you would like to correct a typo or other technical error, you can reach us at help@truity.com.

I am not sure if this career is right for me. How can I decide?

There are many excellent tools available that will allow you to measure your interests, profile your personality, and match these traits with appropriate careers. On this site, you can take the Career Personality Profiler assessment, the Holland Code assessment, or the Photo Career Quiz.

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