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How to Become a Health and Safety Engineer

Bachelor's degree

Health and safety engineers inspect machinery, safety equipment and facilities to correct and identify potential safety hazards. These engineers must have a minimum of a bachelor's degree; often in an engineering discipline including: systems engineering, industrial, chemical and electrical or mechanical engineering. Industrial or occupational hygiene is another acceptable field of study. Employers prefer practical experience. A variety of universities offer cooperative education engineering programs.

Education & Training

Students interested in becoming health and safety engineers will typically benefit from taking high school classes in trigonometry, science, math, biology, algebra, physics, calculus and chemistry.

Health and safety engineer jobs require a bachelor's degree for entry level jobs. Typically, these degree programs are 4 years in length. They often include classes in applied engineering, laboratory work and classroom and field studies. Additional classes in fire protection, electrical, mechanical and industrial engineering programs may be available through certain universities and colleges. Those interested in becoming a health and safety engineer ideally should seek out classes in industrial hygiene, occupational health and safety, environmental safety and ergonomics.

Individuals wishing to pursue a field of software safety engineering may be interested in studying computer science classes as well.

A variety of cooperative programs are offered by universities and colleges. These classes enable students to complete their education and simultaneously gain practical experience.

There are certain universities and colleges offering 5 year accelerated programs that enable graduates to obtain a master's and bachelor's degree upon graduating. A master's degree enables engineers to work at a higher level of competency and they may develop important safety systems. ABET accredited engineering programs are the most sought after.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Health and safety engineers may require licensure depending on where they work. This is often advised for individuals opting for a career in systems safety engineering. Professional engineers or PEs often require the following to obtain a license:

A) An ABET- accredited engineering program degree

B) A minimum of 4 years of relevant work experience

C) A passing score on the FE or Fundamentals of Engineering exam

D) A passing score on the PE or Professional Engineering exam

Upon graduating from college, the FE exam can be taken. Those who pass the exam are typically referred to as EITs or Engineers in Training or EIs or Engineer Interns. Once suitable work experience is gained, EIs and EITs may take the second exam known as the Principals and Practice of Engineering.

Places that prefer licensure often require continuing education in order for engineers to maintain their license. The majority of areas recognize out of town licensure if those requirements meet or exceed local requirements. Professional certification is often earned by health and safety engineers. The majority earn their CSP or Certified Safety Professional designation from the Board of Certified Safety Professionals. The American Board of Industrial Hygiene additionally offers the CIH or Certified Industrial Hygienist certification. In order to advance into management positions, certification is typically required.

Skills and Qualities that will Help

Creativity: Health and safety engineers are required to develop designs that highlight particular problems while supplying remedies. It is necessary that creativity must be implemented during the process as there are unique situations that arise with every project.

Critical-thinking skills: Health and safety engineers are responsible for identifying potential problems and hazards prior to them causing health issues or material damage. These engineers must identify potential health and property hazards as they arise in the home or workplace.

Observational skills: It is important for health and safety engineers to learn how operations function in order to identify risks to property and individuals. This kind of learning and observation requires an ability to think in terms of organizational processes and terms. Therefore, health and safety engineers can provide systemic changes to enhance safety and minimize potential threats.

Problem-solving skills: When developing organizational solutions for a variety of operations, health and safety engineers need to take processes into account from multiple systems simultaneously. Additionally, they must recommend a variety of changes and anticipate a range of human reactions to these proposals.

Reading skills: Health and safety engineers need to be able to interpret state and federal regulations in order to comprehend these goals. Understanding the current regulations is integral in proposing new designs to eliminate problems in specific work environments.

How To Advance

Beginning health and safety engineers often work alongside experienced engineers in a supervised manner. As experience is gained, they work toward completing more difficult projects with enhanced independence. Normally, a graduate degree such as a master's degree in engineering is required. Some individuals may earn a MPH or Master of Public Health degree.

Advanced degrees enable an engineer to implement and develop specific safety programs. Safety professional certification is required or working as an industrial hygienist in order to secure most entry-level management positions.