Masters Degree in Occupational Health: Program Overview
A graduate degree program in occupational health provides students with the training to manage safety concerns in the workplace. One typical degree offered at this level is a Master of Science in Occupational Health and Safety.
Master of Science in Occupational Health and Safety
A Master of Science in Occupational Health and Safety degree is different from a master's degree in occupational therapy. The latter degree program trains students to help injured and disabled individuals regain the motor functions necessary to hold a job, while the former trains students to understand and prevent safety issues in the workplace.
While enrolled in a master's degree program in occupational health, students learn basic safety management techniques and procedures that could apply to a variety of industrial and healthcare-related jobs. They learn to evaluate biological hazards, control industrial chemicals, analyze group safety performances, advise safety standards to employees and promote general occupational health. Some programs also train students to respond to various potential health and safety incidents that might occur in industrial workplaces.
Most universities offering a master's degree program related to occupational health and safety require that incoming students hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution. Students should also have completed coursework in subjects such as chemistry, trigonometry and algebra. Those students who have a bachelor's degree in a field unrelated to safety or health management may also need at least two years of professional experience before enrolling.
Many of the courses included in a master's degree program in occupational health focus on safety and management issues. Some examples are listed below:
- Research methodology in health and safety
- Health and human performance
- Occupational systems analysis
- Human factors in safety management
- Transportation management safety
- Safety legislation and compliance
- Communication in organizational safety
- Safety inspection
- Assessment and control
- Health safety supervision and management
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
A common career path for a graduate of a master's degree program in occupational health is a occupational health and safety specialists. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), occupational health and safety specialists held 51,850 jobs in the United States in 2009. About 41% of these positions were held by individuals working for federal, state and local government agencies, but the majority was held by those working in the private sector. The expected job growth rate for occupational health and safety specialists is expected to grow by about 11% from 2008-2018. The median annual salary of occupational health and safety specialists was about $63,230 in May 2009.
Although many employers request that occupational health and safety specialists gain certification, not all employers require it. Credentialing in the field is voluntary, and is available through a variety of organizations, such as the American Board of Health Physicists, American Board of Industrial Hygiene or Board of Certified Safety Professionals. Requirements for gaining certification from each organization vary, although most require the completion of a written examination.
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