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Become A Safety Engineer

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Working As A Safety Engineer

  • 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
  • $91,603

    Average Salary

What Does A Safety Engineer 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 Engineer

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 Engineer Jobs

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Safety Engineer Career Paths

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Average Length of Employment
Safety Manager 3.8 years
Safety Officer 3.2 years
Safety Supervisor 3.1 years
HSE Manager 3.1 years
Safety Specialist 3.0 years
Safety Engineer 3.0 years
Safety Consultant 2.6 years
Safety Advisor 2.6 years
Top Employers Before
Internship 7.4%
Engineer 4.1%
Top Employers After
Manager 2.9%
Engineer 2.3%

Do you work as a Safety Engineer?

Safety Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

78.9%

Female

18.2%

Unknown

2.9%
Ethnicity

White

60.5%

Hispanic or Latino

14.6%

Black or African American

11.2%

Asian

8.6%

Unknown

5.1%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

51.5%

French

7.4%

German

5.9%

Mandarin

4.4%

Russian

4.4%

Arabic

4.4%

Chinese

2.9%

Turkish

2.9%

Swedish

1.5%

Portuguese

1.5%

Bulgarian

1.5%

Cantonese

1.5%

Carrier

1.5%

Japanese

1.5%

Persian

1.5%

Gothic

1.5%

Xiang

1.5%

Swahili

1.5%

Italian

1.5%
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Safety Engineer Education

Schools

Columbia Southern University

14.7%

Murray State University

13.4%

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

12.9%

West Virginia University

7.0%

University of Central Missouri

6.4%

Texas A&M University

3.9%

Eastern Kentucky University

3.9%

Indiana State University

3.6%

Montana Tech of the University of Montana

3.4%

University of Wisconsin - Whitewater

3.1%

Millersville University of Pennsylvania

3.1%

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

3.1%

University of Phoenix

3.1%

Wayne State University

2.8%

Northern Illinois University

2.8%

Michigan State University

2.6%

University of Utah

2.6%

Central Washington University

2.6%

University of Idaho

2.6%

Clemson University

2.6%
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Majors

Occupational Safety And Health

14.4%

Business

10.6%

Public Health

10.2%

Mechanical Engineering

8.9%

Management

7.8%

Chemical Engineering

5.5%

Electrical Engineering

4.9%

Industrial Engineering

4.6%

Engineering

3.9%

Civil Engineering

3.7%

Industrial Technology

3.5%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

3.4%

Environmental Science

3.3%

Engineering And Industrial Management

2.9%

Health Care Administration

2.5%

Engineering Technology

2.2%

Criminal Justice

2.1%

Biology

2.0%

Construction Management

1.8%

Environmental Engineering

1.8%
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Degrees

Bachelors

45.0%

Masters

29.8%

Other

14.2%

Associate

4.8%

Certificate

3.3%

Doctorate

2.1%

Diploma

0.7%

License

0.1%
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Real Safety Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Chief Safety Engineer Site Safety, LLC New York, NY Sep 09, 2015 $175,000
Technical Safety Engineer Shell Exploration and Production Company New Orleans, LA Sep 18, 2015 $125,800
Technical Safety Engineer Shell Exploration and Production Company New Orleans, LA Aug 09, 2016 $122,800
Technical Safety Engineer Shell Global Solutions (Us) Inc. Houston, TX Feb 17, 2016 $119,800
Technical Safety Engineer Shell Oil Company Houston, TX Sep 04, 2015 $118,300
Technical Safety Engineer Shell International Exploration and Production Inc. Houston, TX Aug 28, 2016 $118,100
Technical Safety Engineer Shell International Exploration and Production Inc. Houston, TX Aug 31, 2016 $116,500
Technical Safety Engineer Shell International Exploration and Production Inc. LA Jan 09, 2016 $116,500
Technical Safety Engineer Shell International Exploration and Production Inc. Houston, TX Aug 20, 2016 $116,000
Health and Safety Engineer (HSE) Pro Safety Services, LLC New Rochelle, NY Oct 01, 2015 $115,000
Vehicle Safety Engineer Faraday & Future Inc. Gardena, CA Aug 22, 2016 $110,000
Active Safety Engineer Ford Motor Company Dearborn, MI Sep 12, 2016 $108,430 -
$129,540
Dam Safety Risk Engineer RAC Engineers and Economists, LLC Providence, UT Jan 26, 2015 $100,360
Safety CAE Engineer FCA Us LLC Auburn Hills, MI Mar 14, 2016 $100,050
Machine Safety Engineer Zoltek Corporation Saint Louis, MO Jan 08, 2016 $100,000
Functional Safety Engineer Dura Operating, LLC Auburn Hills, MI Nov 14, 2016 $100,000
Safety CAE Engineer General Motors Company Warren, MI Nov 30, 2016 $98,139
Safety CAE Engineer Altair Productdesign, Inc. Auburn Hills, MI May 07, 2016 $98,089
Safety CAE Engineer General Motors Company Warren, MI Jan 05, 2015 $98,000
Safety CAE Engineer General Motors Company Warren, MI Jan 12, 2015 $98,000
Safety & Crashworthiness Engineer Altair Productdesign, Inc. Superior, MI Mar 16, 2015 $84,524
Health & Safety Engineer KJM Industries, Inc. San Juan Capistrano, CA Sep 29, 2016 $83,480
Safety CAE Engineer FCA Us LLC Auburn Hills, MI Feb 12, 2015 $82,487
Safety CAE Engineer FCA Us LLC Auburn Hills, MI Feb 25, 2016 $82,486
Pressure Safety Engineer Bayer Business and Technology Services, LLC Baytown, TX Mar 02, 2015 $82,000
Safety Engineer Active Appliance, Inc. CA Dec 02, 2016 $81,411
Safety Engineer Intel Corporation Hillsboro, OR Apr 19, 2016 $80,974 -
$175,400
Functional Safety Engineer IAV Automotive Engineering Inc. Northville, MI Nov 08, 2016 $77,000

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Top Skills for A Safety Engineer

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  1. Safety
  2. Safety Procedures
  3. Compliance
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Conducted safety inspections, audits, engineering analysis and notified the organization's management when deficiencies were found.
  • Conducted safety inspections and investigated violations to ensure safety procedures were followed and counseled managers and employees accordingly.
  • Implemented training programs for agency compliance safety & health inspectors and private sector safety specialists on underground construction.
  • Researched OSHA regulations and industry standards to develop safety training programs for all job classifications.
  • Participated in engineering and planning meetings for the development and re-location of the manufacturing facility.

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Top 10 Best States for Safety Engineers

  1. New Mexico
  2. District of Columbia
  3. Wyoming
  4. Delaware
  5. Alabama
  6. Texas
  7. Michigan
  8. Colorado
  9. Connecticut
  10. Washington
  • (114 jobs)
  • (192 jobs)
  • (26 jobs)
  • (47 jobs)
  • (210 jobs)
  • (1,345 jobs)
  • (525 jobs)
  • (388 jobs)
  • (251 jobs)
  • (550 jobs)

Top Safety Engineer Employers

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Jobs From Top Safety Engineer Employers

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