EHS Management

Making the Match: EHS Job Trends

There is a concern in the environmental and safety industries that a dearth of qualified employees is expected because many workers currently employed in the industry are approaching retirement and that fewer younger people are seeking degrees in areas that would lead them to jobs as EHS professionals. In today’s article we will take a look at recent trends and projected growth for three jobs critical in the EHS professions.

Note: Median salaries for this article have been compiled from BLR’s EHS Salary Guides.

Industrial Safety and Health Engineers

Industry safety and health engineers promote worksite or product safety by applying knowledge of industrial processes, mechanics, chemistry, psychology, and industrial health and safety laws.

Table 1 outlines median salaries for industrial safety and health engineers from 2013–2015, nationwide and for the states with the highest and lowest median salary.

Table 1: Median Salaries for Industrial Safety and Health Engineers 2013–2015

 

2013

2014

2015

Nationwide

$78,367

$80,396

$83,548

Highest median

$115,260
Alaska

$111,180
Alaska

$126,236
Alaska

Lowest median

$53,876
Maine

$57,865
Arkansas

$53,266
Montana

The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects employment of health and safety engineers to grow 6% by 2024 (baseline 2014). The BLS indicates that this growth will be fueled by the healthcare industry because of the high cost of accidents in hospitals.

Accident prevention, particularly with regard to radiation safety, is likely to become increasingly important for the healthcare industry as a way of cutting costs. As a result, strong demand is expected for health and safety engineers in consulting firms. Demand is also expected to be strong in construction.

Another area that will contribute to the growth in employment of health and safety engineers is the emerging field of software safety engineering. According to the BLS, the need to apply the principles of systems safety engineering to software is likely to grow as more machines and mechanical devices are controlled by software.


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Emergency Management Directors

Emergency management directors coordinate disaster response or crisis management activities, provide disaster preparedness training, and prepare emergency plans and procedures for natural and man-made disasters or emergencies.

Table 2 outlines median salaries for emergency management directors from 2013–2015, nationwide and for the states with the highest and lowest median salary.

Table 2: Median Salaries for Emergency Management Directors, 2013–2015

 

2013

2014

2015

Nationwide

$60,965

$64,036

$65,712

Highest median

$97,604
California

$100,184
California

$104,254
California

Lowest median

$33,538
Illinois

$33,089
Illinois

$39,584
Indiana

The BLS projects that employment of emergency management directors will grow about 6% (average) by 2024 (baseline 2014).

Although more people and areas may be vulnerable to disasters because of changes in weather patterns, hiring is expected to be limited by local and state budgets. Growing urbanization and a population shift toward coastal regions may also increase the number of people living in these high-risk areas.

Employment is projected to increase as both local and state governments place a greater emphasis on preparing for natural and man-made emergencies and seek to minimize the risks of being underprepared to deal with such emergencies. Employment growth, however, may be somewhat limited because of budgetary constraints in state and local governments. Although local and state revenue and spending have increased since the end of the recession, continued budget uncertainty and other spending obligations may lead to only modest growth in government hiring.

Some local and state governments, however, may need to limit emergency management services and hiring because of budgetary constraints. In addition, some local and state governments are increasingly relying on federal financial assistance to fund their emergency management agencies. Similar budgetary problems at the federal level may lead to more cutbacks. Some smaller counties may not hire full-time, stand-alone emergency management directors, choosing instead to shift the job responsibilities to the fire chief, police chief, or other government employees.

Employment is likely to grow fastest in private companies. Emergency management directors will be needed to help businesses and organizations continue to provide essential products and services during and after emergencies. However, as in state and local government, some smaller companies, hospitals, or college campuses may not have a stand-alone director. Instead, an information technology (IT) director, a registered nurse, or a public safety officer may handle the emergency management duties.


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Training and Development Specialist

Training and development specialists conduct training and development programs for employees.

Table 3 outlines median salaries for training and development specialists from 2013–2015, nationwide and for the states with the highest and lowest median salary.

Table 3: Median Salaries for Training and Development Specialists, 2013–2015

 

2013

2014

2015

Nationwide

$57,049

$57,987

$58,544

Highest median

$74,623
Washington

$72,573
Washington

$69,540
Massachusetts

Lowest median

$42,595
South Dakota

$42,493
Arkansas

$41,616
West Virginia

According to the BLS, employment of training and development specialists is expected to grow 7% by 2024 (baseline 2014).

The Bureau expects this growth to be across most industries as companies develop and introduce new media and technology into their training programs. Innovations in training methods and learning technology should continue throughout the next decade. For example, organizations increasingly use social media, visual simulations, and mobile learning in their training programs. Training and development specialists will need to modify their programs to fit a new generation of workers for whom technology is a part of daily life and work.

According to the BLS, contracting and consulting firms may see an increase in business since these firms have greater access to technology and technical expertise to produce new training initiatives, some organizations outsource specific training efforts when internal staff or resources are not able to meet the training needs of the organization.

In addition, as Baby Boomers reach retirement age and begin to leave the workforce, organizations will need capable training and development staff to train their replacements. The need to replace a large workforce of highly skilled and knowledgeable employees should result in organizations increasing their training staff or contracting out services, to sustain a workforce of high quality employees and to maintain a competitive edge.