There are many ways to enter the safety field and advance along a career path. Here are a few routes of entry:
Safety and Health Degrees. A common career path is to obtain a bachelor’s or master’s degree in safety and enter the field as a professional. Some may begin with an associate degree in safety, health or the environment or a closely related field.
Safety by Assignment. Many people get involved in safety at various levels because their employer or union assigned them safety responsibility. The assignment may be on a safety committee, plant safety committee, as a collateral duty or part-time assignment, or as a full-time safety person. These assignments often progress in responsibility. Some may start in other roles, such as human resources, with safety as part of their job. The responsibility grows with the effort to improve safety performance and compliance.
Craft-to-Professional. A number of people begin their involvement in safety through a leadership role in their craft or work group. As a supervisor or team leader, they may have responsibility for the safety of others. Interest in advancing safety may lead to a greater safety assignment.
Safety by Experience. Sometimes people get involved in safety because they were part of a significant incident in which they or others were injured or became ill. The experience moves them to pursue safety as a career field. Roles and responsibilities may increase over time.
Careers in Safety
The primary focus of safety practice is to prevent incidents and accidents that may lead to injuries, illnesses, damage to property and equipment, or harm to the environment. Many companies have combined safety, health, and environmental matters into a single department.
While there are many opportunities for people to participate in safety matters on a part-time basis, most career positions are full-time positions. There are safety positions with different levels of responsibility in a safety career path. Each advancing level typically requires that one have higher levels of experience, education, and knowledge and skills in leadership, business practices, safety and health, and communication and information technology.
A number of surveys report that job satisfaction in the safety field is high. Typically, 90% of respondents say they are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their careers in safety. The reasons often include work differing each day and being able to contribute to the welfare of others.
Individuals looking to advance in a safety career often want to know where to get academic training. BCSP maintains a database of academic programs at accredited U.S. colleges and universities. Many programs offer online courses or full degrees. Additionally, The Career Guide to the Safety Profession is a free booklet and downloadable PDF that gives greater details on careers in safety.