An occupational health and safety degree can serve as a stepping stone toward a variety of rewarding careers.
Workplace safety is a high priority for many employers, and professionals in this field help establish practices that keep people out of harm’s way.
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If you are an avid problem-solver who’s invested in the well-being of others, pursuing a Bachelor of Occupational Health and Safety online degree could let you begin developing skills for your future profession.
Online Occupational Health and Safety Degrees
Although the growth of industry brought great financial benefit, it also created unsafe conditions for workers, and there were regrettable outcomes. Miners developed lung disease, manufacturers lost limbs to machinery, and railroad workers risked their lives to uncouple cars.
The mindset around workplace safety has since changed dramatically, and the government has instituted strict regulations to help protect employees. Occupational health and safety education and careers were also a natural result of this movement.
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Graduates with degrees in safety work in a wide range of industries and settings, including factories, hospitals, construction sites, and schools. Many of these professionals are responsible for monitoring conditions, recommending changes and improvements, and offering training to employers and workers.
While completing your online degree in occupational health and safety, you’ll likely study subjects such as:
- Construction safety
- Environmental issues
- Occupational safety
- Industrial hygiene
- Hazardous materials
- Fire safety
- Public health
- Workers’ compensation
Knowledge and experience in these areas may help you qualify for different positions. Some professionals work as:
- Health and safety specialists
- Compliance officers
- Building inspectors
After completing their bachelor’s degree, some students also choose to pursue further training and education through a masters program. Depending on your specific career goal, you may also be required to seek official licensure or certification to work in the field.
Occupational health and safety professionals generally have to travel extensively between sites, sometimes within a particular region or even across the country. Their work hours may also vary due to the nature of the position.
Occupational Health and Safety Careers & Salaries
Occupational health and safety graduates can have many options when it comes to their career aspirations. Some may want to work for a business, medical facility, or government agency or as a private consultant.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are some of the careers related to the health and safety field.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Health and Safety Engineers||$99,040|
|General and Operations Managers||$97,970|
|Occupational Health and Safety Specialists||$77,560|
|Emergency Management Directors||$76,730|
|Construction and Building Inspectors||$61,640|
|Occupational Health and Safety Technicians||$51,120|
|Environmental Science and Protection Technicians||$47,370|
Your location, experience, and type of employer can also affect your salary. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that most of these areas of employment will experience average growth over the next several years.
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This includes occupational health and safety specialists and technicians, which have a projected growth rate of 5%.
Occupational Health and Safety Bachelor’s Curriculum
The curriculum for an occupational health and safety bachelor’s program generally focuses on safety standards, requirements, and practices for different environments. These are some of the types of courses that you may find as you research programs:
- Fundamentals of Occupational Safety and Health: This foundational course gives you an overview of safety and health regulations, hazard assessment tools, and approaches to occupational safety and health.
- Industrial Hygiene: In this course, you can learn how to anticipate, identify, assess, and manage potentially hazardous workplace conditions.
- Occupational Safety Program Development and Management: This class teaches you how to develop an effective occupational health and safety program that includes training, inspections, and regulations.
- OSHA Standards: In this course, you’ll explore potential violations, enforcement, and training programs related to OSHA’s compliance standards.
- Advanced Concepts in Environmental Safety Management: In this class, you can prepare for future certification exams by learning about codes and regulations, measuring risk, and controlling hazardous materials.
- Accident Investigation: This course focuses on methods for investigating accidents to develop more effective prevention and safety practices.
- Construction Safety Management: In this class, you can learn about safety practices that apply specifically to the construction industry, particularly regarding machinery, hazardous substances, and workplace aggression.
- Environmental Issues for Safety and Health: In this course, you’ll investigate the ways in which industry affects the climate and how to improve practices to reduce water, air, and land pollution.
- Hazardous Materials Management: This class examines safe methods for managing hazardous materials and how to respond if a spill, exposure, or emergency occurs.
- Corporate Compliance: In this class, you’ll learn about regulations for businesses, how companies can ensure that they comply, and the consequences of violations.
If you have a particular career goal in mind, you may want to look for a curriculum that includes elective courses applicable to that profession.
Bachelor Degree in Occupational Safety and Health Admissions Requirements
The occupational safety and health online program you choose will have specific admissions requirements, but it may include some or all of these criteria:
- Minimum GPA. You may need to provide high school transcripts with a certain GPA.
- Personal statement. With this statement, you can explain your interests and future goals.
- Letters of recommendation. Previous instructors or mentors can give details about your strengths.
- Test scores. Some schools require you to have a minimum score on the SAT or ACT, but test scores are no longer required by all schools.
In addition, you will likely complete an official application as well as pay an application fee.
When a college or university wants to be recognized as having met a high standard of quality, it can apply for regional accreditation. When a school is accredited, it means that it has undergone and passed a thorough assessment.
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Regional accreditation is the preferred and most widely recognized accreditation status, as regional accrediting bodies often have more rigorous evaluations for academic institutions. It is also typically easier to transfer credits from a regionally accredited school. This can be especially important if you need to change schools. Employers often look more favorably at degrees from accredited institutions as well.
Occupational Safety and Health Certification
In addition to receiving your bachelor degree in occupational health and safety online, you may find it beneficial to pursue an industry certification.
- Certified Safety Professional: This certification is highly respected and can demonstrate your expertise in important areas, including science, ethics, and emergency preparedness.
- Certified Safety and Health Manager: The Institute of Hazardous Materials Management offers this certification, which indicates your knowledge of business practices along with safety and hazards.
- Sustainability and Climate Risk Certificate: This certificate from the Global Association of Risk Professionals focuses on sustainability and climate risk.
While not all potential employers require professional certification, being certified may strengthen your candidacy when applying for jobs.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
If you are concerned about being able to afford your college degree, there are potential aid opportunities you can explore.
Your state government may offer grants or other forms of aid. You can also file a FAFSA to apply for federal aid. If you are currently working for an employer in this area, you may want to inquire about tuition assistance or reimbursement programs.
You can also explore scholarship programs based on your major, interests, and circumstances. For example, there are often scholarships available for first-generation college students, minority groups, and students with high academic achievements. The financial aid office at the school you plan to attend can often provide suggestions for potential sources of aid.
What Is an Occupational Health and Safety Bachelor’s Degree?
An occupational health and safety bachelor’s degree is an academic program that helps students develop their knowledge in workplace safety.
It provides a strong foundation if you want to pursue a career helping protect people from hazards in their work environments. While completing this type of degree, you can learn about theories of safety and how to apply them to real-world situations.
Professionals in this field play an essential role in evaluating and improving safety practices, training employees, and conducting inspections. Studying occupational health and safety may also be a strategic choice if you are interested in engineering, environmental science, construction, or healthcare.
Is Occupational Health and Safety a Good Career?
Yes, occupational health and safety is a good career for many professionals. A lot of organizations hire occupational health and safety specialists, so there’s a large pool of potential employers for this position. Workplace safety is especially important for industries like government, construction, manufacturing, healthcare, and education.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for occupational health and safety specialists is $77,560. This is substantially higher than the median salary for all occupations, which is $45,760. The field of occupational health and safety can also be rewarding for those who want to help protect the lives and health of employees as well as the public.
What Can You Do with a Bachelors in Occupational Health and Safety Degree?
Graduates from occupational health and safety degree programs have a wide range of career options. Some go on to become occupational health and safety specialists, environmental science and protection technicians, health and safety engineers, or compliance officers.
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There are also many different types of employers looking for professionals in these areas. Some graduates pursue work for a government agency, private business, or school system. The industries of government, manufacturing, and construction are some of the largest employers of occupational health and safety specialists, in particular.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Occupational Safety and Health Degree?
There are many variables that can affect the amount of time it takes to complete a bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety. Most programs require around 120 credit hours to graduate. Full-time students can typically complete this type of program in 4 years.
If you have transfer credits, enroll in a condensed program, or take summer courses, you may be able to graduate more quickly. On the other hand, students who attend part-time may need a longer timeframe to complete their degrees.
What Jobs Can You Get with an Occupational Health and Safety Degree?
Job opportunities for occupational health and safety degree holders are extensive. These are some of the common areas of employment for professionals in this field:
- Occupational health and safety specialists: These professionals inspect work environments, analyze work procedures, and develop recommendations for safety practices.
- Construction and building inspectors: Inspectors review and assess building plans, monitor construction sites, and evaluate systems to ensure they are safe.
- Environmental science and protection technicians: These specialists collect samples and create plans to prevent or repair environmental issues.
These are only a few of the career options that may be available to graduates with an occupational health and safety degree.
Is an Online Occupational Health and Safety Degree Worth It?
Yes, an online occupational health and safety degree is worth it for many students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 5% job growth for occupational health and safety specialists and technicians over the next ten years.
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There will always be a need for experts in this field to enforce regulations, improve safety practices, and provide training. A bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety offers a high level of flexibility. It can help prepare students for critical roles in many sectors, including government, business, and healthcare. It can also benefit students with a variety of interests, such as safety, the environment, and construction.
Universities Offering Online Bachelors in Occupational Health and Safety Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Athens State University offers a career-focused Bachelor of Science in Occupational Health and Safety Management program. The degree can be earned in a flexible online format, and class sizes are usually around just 18 students so that a personalized experience can be received. Classes are taught by faculty members with real-world industry experience.
Athens State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Capitol Technology University offers a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety and Health that can be earned online. Students in the program can earn industry certifications and gain real-world experience through participation in co-ops and internships. The curriculum consists of courses such as Construction Safety Regulations, Hazardous Materials, and Fire Prevention and Protection.
Capitol Technology University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Central Washington University offers a Bachelor of Applied Science in Risk, Insurance, and Safety Management. The program is 100% online and designed for students who already have industry work experience. CWU allows students to transfer up to 135 credits of qualifying prior college coursework. Students can typically graduate in 8 quarters of full-time study.
Central Washington University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Eastern Kentucky University offers an online program for a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety. This flexible program can allow students to potentially graduate in just 2.5 years, while maintaining regular employment. EKU’s online courses include discussion boards and are highly interactive. The program’s instructors have real-life experience working as safety professionals.
Eastern Kentucky University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University offers a Bachelor of Science in Safety Management program that aims to help students become Graduate Safety Practitioners. Courses are available online. The curriculum consists of courses such as Introduction to Occupational Safety and Health, Principles of Accident Investigation, and Environmental Compliance and Safety.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Indiana State University offers a BS in Safety Management that can be earned online or on campus. The online program does require a weeklong residency on campus that can be completed during the summer of the student’s junior or senior year. Students may attend classes full-time or part-time, and class sizes are small to provide individualized attention.
Indiana State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Missouri Southern University offers a BAS in Environmental Health and Safety that is designed to help students earn the Graduate Safety Practitioner designation.
Students in the program may also pursue DOT HazMat General Awareness Certification and National Incident Management System Certification. Courses are available online and on campus. The curriculum consists of courses such as Environmental Toxicology, Industrial Hygiene, and Epidemiology.
Missouri Southern State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
North Carolina A&T University offers a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health and Safety that can be earned online. There are two tracks within the program: Management and Science. Graduates of the program can apply for the Graduate Safety Practitioner designation and pursue a variety of career options.
North Carolina A&T State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Oakland University offers a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health and Safety. The degree can be earned on campus, online, or in a combination of both. OU has high-tech EHS labs, and students can gain hands-on experience through project-based learning and participation in internships. Class sizes are small to help ensure individualized attention.
Oakland University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Southeastern Oklahoma State University offers an online program for a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety and Health. The program is designed to help students earn the Graduate Safety Practitioner designation. The curriculum consists of classes like Introduction to Occupational Safety and Health, Fundamentals of Safety Engineering and Human Factors, and Construction Safety.
Southeastern Oklahoma State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Texas A&M University Commerce offers a competency-based Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in Safety and Health program. It is completely online and designed for working adults. There are two 7 week terms for each semester of a traditional academic calendar. The curriculum is designed to teach practical applications and help students develop career-ready skills.
TAMUC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Unity College offers a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health and Safety. The program is 100% online but still includes experiential learning opportunities. It offers concentrations in Emergency Disaster Management, Wildlife Ecology, Sustainable Business, Renewable Energy, and Environmental GIS. There are 8 start dates every year.
Unity College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
The University of Alaska—Anchorage offers a BS in Occupational Safety and Health. This on-campus program includes hands-on learning experiences, internship opportunities, and a student club for health and safety majors. Some courses are available online or in the evenings to provide flexible options for working adults.
UAA is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
The University of Arizona offers a Bachelor of Science in Public Health with an emphasis in Occupational Health. The program offers internship opportunities. The curriculum consists of courses such as Fundamentals of Industrial and Environmental Health, Topics in Environmental Justice, and Global Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene. There is also an accelerated track available to help students get started on an MPH.
The University of Arizona is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Central Missouri offers a BS in Occupational Safety with an option in Occupational Safety and Health Management. Graduates of the program are eligible to apply for the Graduate Safety Practitioner designation. The program has a 100% job and graduate school placement rate.
The University of Central Missouri is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Maryland Global Campus offers an online program for a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Management. The curriculum consists of classes such as Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Environment and Ecosystems Principles, and Global Environmental Management Issues. The curriculum emphasizes hands-on learning. Select courses are available in a hybrid format.
The University of Maryland Global Campus is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The Bachelor’s in Occupational Safety from the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater can be earned completely online. The program is flexible and allows students to work at their own pace. It provides access to discussion boards so that students can interact with each other. Graduates of the program are eligible to apply for the GSP designation.
UW – Whitewater is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Waldorf University’s Bachelor of Arts in Occupational Safety program is available online and is designed to lead to GSP designation. The curriculum consists of courses like Fundamentals of Occupational Safety and Health, Introduction to Fire Prevention, and Legal Aspects of Health and Safety.
Waldorf University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Youngstown State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Applied Science in Public Health, with a track in Environmental Health. The program is designed to help students become Certified Health Education Specialists. To graduate, students must complete 122 semester hours of courses such as Introduction to Environmental Health and Safety, Community Health, and Crisis Management in Public Health.
Youngstown State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Getting Your Bachelor’s Degree in Occupational Health and Safety Online
If you enjoy helping others, changing tasks and priorities from day to day, and traveling locally or nationally, you might consider a career in occupational health and safety. Professionals in this field often work as inspectors, safety specialists, managers, and analysts.
Much like with an on-campus or online public safety administration degree, completing a bachelors degree in occupational health and safety may help you qualify for a variety of job opportunities. You can begin by researching accredited colleges and universities that offer occupational health and safety degrees online to determine which program best aligns with your needs and interests.
By enrolling in an online bachelor’s degree program, you can begin to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to embark on your new career path.