Health and safety technicians, also known as health and safety engineers or officers, work to lower the risk of harm to workers and the general public. You can become a health and safety technician in one of two ways. The first way is by earning an associate's degree or certificate in industrial safety. You can also become a health and safety technician by gaining experience and training in the industry.
A career in industrial safety can take many potential paths. For example, some health and safety officers design workspaces or machinery according to current safety standards. They may also test aspects of the work environment, such as air or water, for safety. Others may analyze data or test potentially toxic materials in the workplace. Some work with corporations to design or assess safety programs.
Several means are available for people who desire to become a health and safety technician. The first option is education. Many colleges and universities offer certificate programs, associate's degrees, and bachelor's degrees in industrial safety. A certificate program typically takes one year to complete, while degree programs are more intensive — usually two years for an associate's degree and four years for a bachelor's degree.
Some health and safety technicians acquire on-the-job training instead of going through formal education. Usually, these people have already been employed in some other aspect of their field and eventually learn the responsibilities of health and safety officers. Although not all employers require certification, anyone who wants to become a health and safety technician will generally need to be trained in related laws and inspection procedures.
Health and safety officers work in a variety of settings, from factories to offices. Travel is often required. The government offers some of the best advancement opportunities for health and safety engineers, with multiple levels a person can advance to, based on performance.
For health and safety technicians with at least a bachelor's degree, further advancement is possible. These technicians may advance their careers into supervisory positions. They may also become health and safety specialists — a related career with more responsibility and higher pay.
Job prospects for health and safety technicians are expected to grow at a faster than normal rate. Positions continuously become available in many areas, as existing technicians advance in their careers, retire, or leave the profession. In general, health and safety officers who have knowledge in more than one industry will typically have the best opportunities.