Masters Degree in Occupational Health: Program Overview
Through a Master of Science in Occupational Health and Safety degree program, students are trained to manage safety concerns in the workplace and research ways to prevent and respond to hazardous conditions. Read on to find out about required courses, employment options and available certifications in this field.
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 employees on safety standards 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.
These programs can often be completed in 2-3 years. Students may gain real world experience through a practicum or internship. A final research paper or project or a comprehensive exam may be required.
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
Graduates of a master's degree program in occupational health can work as occupational health and safety specialists. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), these professionals held 59,610 jobs in the United States in 2012. The expected job growth rate for occupational health and safety specialists was 9% from 2010-2020. The median annual salary of these workers was $66,790 in May 2012.
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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