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Occupational Health and Safety Technicians - What They Do

How to Advance (Advancement)
Occupational health and safety technicians who work for the Federal Government advance through their career ladder to a specified full-performance level if their work is satisfactory. For positions above this level, usually supervisory positions, advancement is competitive and based on agency needs and individual merit. Advancement opportunities in State and local governments and the private sector are often similar to those in the Federal Government.

Technicians with broad education and experience and those who are well versed in numerous business functions usually have the best advancement opportunities. One way to keep up with current professional developments is to join a professional society. These organizations offer journals, continuing education courses, and conferences that provide learning and networking opportunities and can help workers and students to advance.

With a bachelorís or advanced degree, technicians can become occupational health and safety specialists.

Occupational health and safety technicians held about 10,900 jobs in 2008. While the majority of jobs were spread throughout the private sector, about 22 percent of technicians worked for government agencies.

Most private companies either employ their own occupational health and safety workers or contract with them. Most contract work is done through consulting companies.

In addition to working for governments, occupational health and safety technicians were employed in manufacturing firms; public and private hospitals; educational services; scientific and technical consulting services; administrative and support services; and support activity for mining.

Job Outlook
Faster than average employment growth is expected; additional opportunities will arise from the need to replace workers who leave the occupation. Individuals with a well-rounded breadth of knowledge in more than one health and safety specialty will have the best job prospects.

Job Growth
Employment of occupational health and safety technicians is expected to increase 14 percent during the 2008-18 decade, faster than the average for all occupations, reflecting a balance of continuing public demand for a safe and healthy work environment against the desire for fewer government regulations.

More technicians will be needed to cope with technological advances in safety equipment and threats, changing regulations, and increasing public expectations. In private industry, employment growth will reflect overall business growth and continuing self-enforcement of government and company regulations and policies.

Although most occupational health and safety technicians work under supervision of specialists, technicians can complete many of the routine job tasks with little or no supervision. As a result in order to contain costs, some employers operate with more technicians and fewer specialists.

Growth for occupational health and safety technicians may be hampered by the number of manufacturing and other industry firms offshoring their operations. Also, the increasing popularity of telecommuting, or working at home, will result in less work space for technicians to inspect.

In addition to job openings from growth, job openings will arise from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations, retire, or leave for other reasons. Health and safety technicians with a wide breadth of knowledge in more than one area of health and safety along with general business functions will have the best prospects.

Employment of occupational health and safety technicians in the private sector is somewhat affected by general economic fluctuations. Federal, State, and local governments provide considerable job security; workers are less likely to be affected by changes in the economy.

Median annual wages of occupational health and safety technicians were $45,360 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $35,160 and $57,110. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $26,540, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $73,050.

Most occupational health and safety technicians work in large private firms or for Federal, State, and local governments, most of which generally offer benefits more generous than those offered by smaller firms.

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