What are the best job prospects for environment, health, and safety (EHS) professionals? Where do they get paid the best and where are prospects dimming? Today and tomorrow we will 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. In addition, they investigate industrial accidents and injuries to determine their causes and to determine whether the incidents were avoidable 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.
Table 1 outlines median salaries for industrial safety and health engineers from 2015–2017, nationwide and for the states with the highest and lowest median salary.
Table 1: Median Salaries for Industrial Safety and Health Engineers 2015–2017
Nationwide, the median salary for industrial safety and health engineers increased 2.61% from 2016 to 2017. Although Alaska has the highest median income for industrial safety and health engineers, the state saw a 6.86% drop in salary for this job from 2016 to 2017. Montana saw the biggest percentage jump in salary for industrial safety and health engineers. It went from a median of $40,603 in 2016 to a median of $56,883 in 2017—a jump of 52.58%. North Dakota took the biggest percentage dive for industrial safety and health engineers from 2016 to 2017 at -20.25%.
The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects employment of health and safety engineers to grow 9 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as average for all occupations.
Health and safety engineers are employed mainly in construction, manufacturing, state and local government, and engineering and consulting firms. As buildings, products, and processes continue to become more complex and new regulations are created, these engineers will be needed to reduce costs, save lives, and produce safe consumer products.
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.
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 (e.g., hurricanes, floods, earthquakes), wartime, or technological (e.g., nuclear power plant emergencies, hazardous materials spills) disasters, or hostage situations.
Table 2 outlines median salaries for emergency management directors from 2015–2017, nationwide and for the states with the highest and lowest median salary.
Table 2: Median Salaries for Emergency Management Directors, 2015–2017
Nationwide, the median salary for emergency management directors increased 4.81% from 2016 to 2017. California has the highest median income for emergency management directors, but Illinois saw a huge percentage jump in salary for this job. It went from a median of $45,524 in 2016 to a median of $70,748—a jump of 55.41%. Even though Indiana had the lowest median income for emergency management directors in 2017, Utah took the biggest dive for this job—from $65,666 in 2016 to $59,064 in 2017, a 10.05% drop.
BLS projects that employment of emergency management directors will grow 8% from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
According to the BLS, the importance of preparing for and minimizing the risks from emergencies will help sustain demand and employment opportunities for emergency management directors. These workers will be needed to help businesses and organizations continue to provide essential services during and after emergencies.
However, some local and state governments rely on federal financial assistance to fund their emergency management agencies. 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.
BLS expects competition for jobs to be strong. Modest increases in state and local government budgets mean that new job openings are likely to be limited. Retirements over the next decade may provide some opportunities for jobseekers interested in entering the occupation. Applicants with extensive work experience in an emergency management role will have the best job prospects.
What’s the job outlook for training and development specialists? Be sure to check tomorrow’s Advisor.