If you want to play a vital role in keeping workplaces accident-free then you can consider a career as a safety engineer. In this profession, your role will focus on coming up with guidelines to ensure the safety of workers in an industrial setting. You will also be designing systems that are meant to protect people from accidents while at the same time prevent equipment from being damaged.
Your specialization as a safety engineer will also determine the focus of your responsibilities. For example, if you are an aerospace safety engineer, you will be working on things like missiles, satellites and radars, ensuring that these are safe and function as they are designed. If you will be working as fire prevention and protection engineer, you will focus on designing fire prevention systems for homes, offices and other kinds of buildings. As a product safety engineer, you will look be joining the design team of a new product being developed to make sure that there are no injuries or accidents that will result when users start operating it. In the event that a particular product has caused injury or damage to property when it was used, you will be investigating into the matter to ascertain why it occurred.
The workplace can be a dangerous place for workers if safety measures and programs are not instituted by safety engineers. If you happen to work in a manufacturing plant where sparks from things that are being welded become part of the natural landscape of the workplace, you could require everyone in that section to wear safety goggles all the time. If you know that a particularly noxious chemical will be emitted by a manufacturing process then you will consider another way to make that product or if there is no other way, think of a means to prevent the chemical from escaping into the air. Instituting a culture of safety among the workers is also vital part of the safety engineer’s job.
To succeed as a safety engineer, you need to be very observant of the things going on around the workplace so you can identify safety issues. Critical thinking skills are a must so you will be able to make the necessary changes that will make the workplace or the product safer for everyone concerned. A dose of creativity is also in order since there are situations that are unique and designing a safety program that actually works will require this skill. Since many safety procedures are already outlined in various codes (i.e. building codes, fire codes), all you need to possess is the ability to read and understand these voluminous documents so they can be implemented correctly.
Why Become A Safety Engineer
One reason to become a safety engineer is that it enables those who are truly concerned about safety in the workplace to do something concrete about it. Because it puts a premium on preventing accidents and consequently, preserving lives, a career as a safety engineer is indeed very fulfilling. Safety engineers are also needed in many industries, allowing the inclined individual to work in the industry that likes best. This is also a well-paying occupation that has good employment opportunities in the next few years.
Safety Engineer Work Environment
Safety engineers work in many different industries. Many of them are hired in companies that work in the professional, scientific and technical services industry as well as in the construction of buildings. State and local governments and heavy and civil engineering construction industries also hire safety engineers. While they work mostly in the office, they also visit worksites and plants to check on the safety issues in these areas and provide solutions.
Safety Engineer Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in its Occupational Employment and Wages report, revealed that the mean annual wage of health and safety engineers is $81,320. This is slightly lower than the $83,390 paid to industrial engineers each year. Health and safety engineers that receive six-figure salaries are those who work in the oil and gas extraction industry ($113,340), natural gas distribution ($109,110), wholesale electronic markets and agents and brokers ($106,650), household appliance manufacturing ($106,320) and the federal executive branch ($103,000).
Safety Engineer Career Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a positive job outlook for safety engineers in the next few years. For the period covering 2012 to 2022, the employment rate of this occupation is set to increase 11 percent, a rate that is as fast as the average for all job types. There will be continued demand for safety engineers in the manufacturing industry. In addition, hospitals and software firms will also have a need for these professionals to reduce accidents and consequently, bring down the sky high expenses associated with these incidents.
Safety Engineer Degree
The minimum requirement to enter this profession is a bachelor’s degree, preferably in an engineering discipline. Thus, electrical, mechanical, chemical, industrial and systems engineering is acceptable. Occupational hygiene and industrial hygiene also provide excellent backgrounds for this career. Since employers prefer graduates who have obtained practical work experience in the field, enrolling in schools that allow for cooperative programs is going to be advantageous. There are also programs that award both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree after completion but these take five years to complete. The advantage of these programs is that they equip graduates with the ability to design safety systems.