Occupational Health and Safety Expert

Average Salary $46k - 113k
Years Higher Education 4 - 6
Job Outlook Excellent

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 16 workers are injured on the job every day. Nearly 6,000 workers die from job-related accidents.

Occupational health and safety experts are concerned with the identification, prevention and control of health and safety hazards related to work and the work environment, as well as their prevention and control. They promote health and safety within organizations by developing safer, healthier and more efficient ways of working.

If you pursue a career in this field, you might design programs to control, eliminate or prevent health problems caused by chemical, physical or biological agents. You might advise organizations about using more ergonomically designed equipment or furniture. You might conduct occupational safety inspections or evaluate how well employers adhere to laws, regulations or policies designed to protect their workers’ health and safety.

Working Conditions

Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians work with many different people in a variety of environments. Their jobs often involve considerable fieldwork, and some travel frequently. Many occupational health and safety specialists and technicians work long and often irregular hours.

Academic Requirements

Occupational Health and Safety Expert like food safety specialists typically earn a four-year college degree with a scientific major. Some states offer certification for environmental health practitioners who have a specified amount of work experience and pass an examination.

Acquiring a degree from an accredited environmental health degree program is highly recommended for individuals interested in entering the field of environmental health.

Accreditation helps ensure a well-prepared workforce, and indicates that an academic program has been found to have the curriculum, faculty, facilities and institutional support necessary to provide quality environmental health education. The National Environmental Health Science and Protection Accreditation Council (EHAC) is the only accreditation body for environmental health degree programs.

Accreditation is important to many employers, as well, including the federal government. For example, only students from accredited programs are eligible to participate in the U.S. Public Health Service’s Commissioned Corps Officer Student Extern Training Program. Further, EHAC accreditation assures employers that graduates have completed at least a 180 hour hands-on, practice based internship during their college career.

Experience in the food preparation industry can help you qualify for an entry-level position as a food inspector with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). USDA food safety specialists must pass a written test and have either a four-year degree or job-related experience that involves ensuring compliance with proper food safety standards. Each of these sentences needs to be appropriate for each job description.

Because occupational health and safety expert must work with many different types of people and report their findings, good written and communication skills are essential. It also helps to have acute senses and be highly observant. Commissioned Corps Officer Student Extern Training Program.

Preparation Timeline

In high school

  • Take plenty of courses in math, life sciences, physical sciences and English/writing.
  • Seek opportunities to volunteer with environmental protection or public health organizations or businesses.
  • Design a science fair project that addresses how companies can reduce the risk of a specific type of injury on the job.

In college

  • Major in civil engineering, biology, geology, physics, environmental engineering or some other scientific area.
  • Enroll in a summer program or internship that focuses on environmental health or occupational safety.


The National Environmental Health Science and Protection Accreditation Council reviewed this profile.