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Become A Safety Director

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Working As A Safety Director

  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • $100,680

    Average Salary

What Does A Safety Director Do

Health and safety engineers develop procedures and design systems to prevent people from getting sick or injured and to keep property from being damaged. They combine knowledge of systems engineering and of health or safety to make sure that chemicals, machinery, software, furniture, and other consumer products will not cause harm to people or damage to buildings.

Duties

Health and safety engineers typically do the following:

  • Review plans and specifications for new machinery and equipment to make sure they meet safety requirements
  • Identify and correct potential hazards by inspecting facilities, machinery, and safety equipment
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of various industrial control mechanisms
  • Ensure that buildings or products comply with health and safety regulations, especially after an inspection that required changes
  • Install safety devices on machinery or direct the installation of these devices
  • Review employee safety programs and recommend improvements
  • Maintain and apply knowledge of current policies, regulations, and industrial processes

Health and safety engineers also investigate industrial accidents, injuries, or occupational diseases to determine their causes and to determine whether the incidents could have been or can be prevented in the future. They interview employers and employees to learn about work environments and incidents that lead to accidents or injuries. They also evaluate the corrections that were made to remedy violations found during health inspections.

Health and safety engineers are also active in two related fields: industrial hygiene and occupational hygiene. In industrial hygiene, they focus on the effects of chemical, physical, and biological agents. They recognize, evaluate, and control these agents to keep people from becoming sick or injured. For example, they might anticipate that a particular manufacturing process will give off a potentially harmful chemical and recommend either a change to the process or a way to contain and control the chemical.

In occupational hygiene, health and safety engineers investigate the environment in which people work, and then use science and engineering to recommend changes to keep workers from being exposed to sickness or injuries. They help employers and employees understand risks, and improve working conditions and practices. For example, they might observe that the noise level in a factory is likely to cause harm to workers’ hearing and recommend ways to reduce the noise level through changes to the building or reducing exposure time, or by having workers wear proper hearing protection.

Health and safety engineering is a broad field covering many activities. The following are examples of types of health and safety engineers:

Aerospace safety engineers work on missiles, radars, and satellites to make sure that they function safely as designed.

Fire prevention and protection engineers design fire prevention systems for all kinds of buildings. They often work for architects during the design phase of new buildings or renovations. They must be licensed and must keep up with changes in fire codes and regulations.

Product safety engineers investigate the causes of accidents or injuries that might have resulted from the use or misuse of a product. They create solutions that reduce or eliminate safety issues associated with products. They also help design new products to prevent injuries, illnesses, or property damage.

Systems safety engineers work in many fields, including aerospace, and are moving into new fields, such as software safety, medical safety, and environmental safety. These engineers take a systemic approach to identify hazards so that accidents and injuries can be avoided.

For information on health and safety engineers who work in mines, see the profile on mining and geological engineers.

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How To Become A Safety Director

Health and safety engineers must have a bachelor’s degree, typically in an engineering discipline such as electrical, chemical, mechanical, industrial, or systems engineering. Another acceptable field of study is occupational or industrial hygiene. Employers value practical experience, so cooperative-education engineering programs at universities are valuable as well.

Education

High school students interested in becoming health and safety engineers will benefit from taking high school courses in math and science, such as algebra, trigonometry, calculus, biology, chemistry, and physics.

Entry-level jobs as a health and safety engineer require a bachelor’s degree. Bachelor’s degree programs typically are 4-year programs and include classroom, laboratory, and field studies in applied engineering. Students interested in becoming a health and safety engineer should seek out coursework in occupational safety and health, industrial hygiene, ergonomics, or environmental safety. In addition, programs in mechanical, electrical, and industrial engineering, programs in systems engineering and fire protection engineering constitute good preparation for this occupation. ABET accredits programs in engineering.

Students interested in entering the relatively new field of software safety engineering may pursue a degree in computer science.

Many colleges and universities offer cooperative-education programs, which allow students to gain practical experience while completing their education.

A few colleges and universities offer 5-year accelerated programs through which students graduate with both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. A master’s degree allows engineers to enter the occupation at a higher level, where they can develop and implement safety systems.

Important Qualities

Creativity. Health and safety engineers produce designs showing potential problems and remedies for them. They must be creative to deal with situations unique to a project.

Critical-thinking skills. Health and safety engineers must be able to identify hazards to humans and property in the workplace or in the home before they cause material damage or become a health threat.

Observational skills. Health and safety engineers must observe and learn how operations function so that they can identify risks to people and property. This requires the ability to think in terms of overall processes within an organization. Health and safety engineers can then recommend systemic changes to minimize risks.

Problem-solving skills. In designing solutions for entire organizational operations, health and safety engineers must take into account processes from more than one system at the same time. In addition, they must try to anticipate a range of human reactions to the changes they recommend.

Reading skills. Health and safety engineers must be able to interpret federal and state regulations and their intent so that they can propose proper designs for specific work environments.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as a health and safety engineer. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience, typically at least 4 years
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

The initial FE exam can be taken after one earns a bachelor’s degree. Engineers who pass this exam are commonly called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering.

Only a few states require health and safety engineers to be licensed. Licensure is generally advised for those opting for a career in systems safety engineering. States requiring licensure usually require continuing education for engineers in order to keep their license. Most states recognize licensure from other states, if the licensing state’s requirements meet or exceed their own licensure requirements.

Health and safety engineers typically have professional certification. Certifications include the following:

  • The Board of Certified Safety Professionals offers the Certified Safety Professional (CSP) certification, the Occupational Health and Safety Technologist (OHST), and a new certification called the Associate Safety Professional (ASP)
  • The American Board of Industrial Hygiene awards a certification known as a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH)
  • The American Society of Safety Engineers offers a Certificate in Safety Management (CSM)
  • The International Council on Systems Engineering offers a program leading to a designation as a Certified Systems Engineering Professional (CSEP)

Certification is generally needed to advance into management positions.

Advancement

New health and safety engineers usually work under the supervision of experienced engineers. To move to more difficult projects with greater independence, a graduate degree is generally required, such as a master’s degree in engineering or a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree.

An advanced degree allows an engineer to develop and implement safety programs. Certification as a safety professional or as an industrial hygienist is generally required for entry into management positions. For more information, see the profile on architectural and engineering managers.

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Safety Director Typical Career Paths

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Average Length of Employment
Safety Director 4.0 years
Safety Manager 3.8 years
Safety Trainer 3.6 years
Safety Engineer 3.4 years
Safety Supervisor 3.1 years
Safety Advisor 2.6 years
Safety Consultant 2.6 years
Top Employers Before
Owner 4.2%
Manager 3.6%
Supervisor 2.7%
Top Employers After
Owner 4.1%
Manager 3.0%
Consultant 2.8%

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Safety Director Demographics

Gender

Male

77.8%

Female

20.4%

Unknown

1.8%
Ethnicity

White

66.2%

Hispanic or Latino

13.2%

Black or African American

11.0%

Asian

6.2%

Unknown

3.5%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

57.4%

Carrier

13.0%

Russian

5.2%

French

4.3%

Dakota

4.3%

German

1.7%

Japanese

1.7%

Polish

1.7%

Korean

1.7%

Arabic

1.7%

Portuguese

0.9%

Berta

0.9%

Hawaiian

0.9%

Catalan

0.9%

Persian

0.9%

Amharic

0.9%

Ukrainian

0.9%

Italian

0.9%
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Safety Director Education

Schools

Columbia Southern University

23.5%

University of Phoenix

9.8%

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

7.0%

West Virginia University

6.6%

Eastern Kentucky University

6.4%

University of Central Missouri

4.8%

University of Central Oklahoma

4.4%

Marshall University

4.0%

Murray State University

4.0%

Texas A&M University

3.4%

Georgia Institute of Technology -

3.2%

The Academy

3.0%

Keene State College

3.0%

Northeastern State University

2.6%

Oklahoma State University

2.6%

University of South Florida

2.4%

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

2.4%

Community College of the Air Force

2.4%

University of Utah

2.4%

Southeastern Oklahoma State University

2.4%
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Majors

Business

24.9%

Occupational Safety And Health

12.8%

Criminal Justice

9.1%

Management

9.0%

Public Health

5.6%

Education

3.3%

Human Resources Management

3.3%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

3.0%

General Studies

2.7%

Psychology

2.7%

Medical Technician

2.7%

Fire Science And Protection

2.6%

Environmental Science

2.6%

Health Care Administration

2.5%

Construction Management

2.4%

Nursing

2.4%

Industrial Technology

2.2%

Biology

2.2%

Accounting

2.1%

Engineering

1.9%
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Degrees

Bachelors

34.0%

Other

29.2%

Masters

18.0%

Associate

10.3%

Certificate

6.1%

Doctorate

1.4%

Diploma

0.6%

License

0.5%
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Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Safety Director Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Director, Safety/Security Paypal, Inc. San Jose, CA Dec 07, 2016 $220,000
Director of Technical Safety AMEC Paragon, Inc. Houston, TX Sep 09, 2010 $187,540
Director-Safety Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. Pasadena, CA Jan 01, 2012 $137,488 -
$304,300
Director, Radiation Safety/Rso Medstar-Georgetown Medical Center, Inc. Washington, DC Jun 24, 2012 $130,000
Director, Radiation Safety/Rso Medstar-Georgetown Medical Center, Inc. Washington, DC Nov 22, 2010 $130,000
Director, Fleet Safety (Occupational Safety) Princess Cruise Lines Ltd. Santa Clarita, CA Sep 10, 2012 $117,343
Director of Safety Clay Lacy Aviation CA Aug 09, 2016 $95,742 -
$110,000
Director of Safety Clay Lacy Aviation CA Sep 03, 2015 $94,000
Operations, Program & Safety Director Blue Star Operating Co Hendersonville, NC Oct 01, 2015 $81,702
Director of Safety F.I.T. Aviation, LLC Melbourne, FL Apr 14, 2014 $70,000
Safety Director The Resolute Building Company Chapel Hill, NC Apr 14, 2009 $63,500
Training and Safety Director High Sierra Pools Inc. Arlington, VA Sep 15, 2013 $62,109
Patient Safety Director Peterson Park Health Care Center, Inc. Chicago, IL Dec 30, 2009 $54,000
Patient Safety Director Peterson Park Health Care Center, Inc. Chicago, IL Feb 01, 2010 $54,000
Patient Safety Director Peterson Park Health Care Center, Inc. Chicago, IL Sep 16, 2010 $54,000
Patient Safety Director Peterson Park Health Care Center, Inc. Chicago, IL Sep 23, 2010 $54,000
Patient Safety Director Winston Manor Nursing Home Chicago, IL Sep 27, 2010 $54,000

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Top Skills for A Safety Director

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  1. Safety
  2. Compliance
  3. Osha
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Identified institution safety-training needs and developed administration safety-training programs.
  • Worked closely with BP Alternative Energy and General Contractor WindConnect on implementing project safety compliance and behavioral based safety programs.
  • Conducted and improved existing OSHA required training sessions with employee engagement/involvement.
  • Conduct safety inspections and investigate violations to ensure safety procedures are being followed and counsel managers and employees accordingly.
  • Developed the first-ever Emergency Management Plan, Proprietary Information Protection Program, and Operational Manual for the Security Department.

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Top Safety Director Employers

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Jobs From Top Safety Director Employers

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