Occupational Health and Safety Masters Program Info
Occupational health and safety personnel examine workplaces and create programs that help prevent employee injury or illness. Individuals with a master's degree will be prepared for advanced positions in worksite safety, such as management jobs working for the government or private companies.
Master's Degrees in Occupational Health and Safety
While some programs offer a master's degree in occupational health and safety, others offer master's degrees in related disciplines, such as safety and security or public health, with an occupational health and safety concentration. Typically, students pursuing a master's degree in this subject already have a job in the field and are looking to move up the career ladder, most likely to a management position. Many schools are starting to offer online versions of their programs in order to accommodate working professionals pursuing the degree.
A student wishing to pursue a master's degree should have a bachelor's degree from an accredited university. While some schools may require the degree to be in a field related to safety management, other schools may accept other areas of study if the applicant has relevant professional work experience. Most schools require completion of a certain number of credit hours in science, math and engineering. There may also be minimum GPA or GRE score requirements.
Class topics cover the basics of managing workplace health and safety. Students learn how to design, evaluate and implement programs that promote safer work environments. They are also taught how to handle emergency situations and, when possible, how to prevent them from occurring. Some programs have internship or practicum requirements and may also have a thesis requirement. Programs may include some of the following subject matter:
- Industrial hygiene
- Disaster preparedness and communication
- Psychological effects of disasters
- Epidemiology and disease theory
- Hazardous materials
- Health and safety program design and integration
- Disease management in international settings
- Safety laws and litigation
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of occupational health and safety specialists should grow 11% between 2008 and 2018, which is roughly the average for all professions. As the public becomes increasingly aware of the need for safe work environments, the BLS predicts, more individuals who can conduct safety evaluations of worksites and can design and implement safety programs will be needed. Any growth will be tempered, however, by pressures for less government regulation in the workplace. As of May 2009, the BLS also reported that occupational health and safety specialists earned an average annual salary of $64,200.
Continuing Education Information
Master's degree holders can go on to pursue doctoral study in occupational health and safety. The Ph.D is usually offered in public health, with a concentration in environmental and occupational safety. Graduates of these programs are prepared for leadership and research positions in the field. They can go on to specialize in a diverse range of areas, including toxicology, ergonomics, indoor air quality and occupational reproductive risks.
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