These days, colleges are beginning to shift away from the liberal arts mentality. Employers want new hires who can step into the job and assume their responsibilities as soon as possible, and they want to see demonstrable skills to guarantee their new hires can do just that.
So, more students (and more colleges) are shifting their attention toward degrees with a pre-professional bent.
One such area is health and safety, where professional training and skills are more than just a good idea – they help save lives. If you’re debating whether or not you should get a degree in health and safety, keep reading to learn what you’re signing up for, what you can expect, and why the degree might be the right fit for you.
What Is an Occupational Safety Degree?
An occupational safety degree, which may be a Bachelor’s degree or an Associate’s degree, is the first step toward deepening your knowledge and gaining the skills you need to protect others.
An occupational safety degree is designed to teach you what you need to know as an incoming safety professional. That way, when you enter the workforce, your colleagues know they can rely on you to keep them safe through your knowledge of the technical details of safety.
Topics of Study
Topics of study in a Bachelor’s or Associate’s degree are broader than topics you would see in a Master’s degree, simply because the degree rightly assumes that you have less knowledge. Nonetheless, a degree in health and safety will cover most topics you can expect to encounter as a working professional.
Some of these topics include:
- Health and safety program management
- Safety training and instructional techniques
- Industrial hygiene
- Regulatory compliance
- Hazardous materials
- Waste management
Depending on your specialization within your degree, you may focus on tailored safety topics, such as oil and gas production safety or chemical hygiene. You may gain more technical specializations if you reinforce your degree with a background in engineering, biology, chemistry, or human health.
Why Get a Degree in Health and Safety
Of course, all of this comes back to one question: why get a degree in health and safety? Why not get a different degree and get a safety certification later?
For one thing, a degree in health and safety prepares you to be a leader in your field. It demonstrates a period of study over time in which you develop a breadth and depth of knowledge, allowing you to bring real skills to the table.
But on a deeper level, this kind of degree sets you up for a career where you get to spend your time protecting your colleagues. More than that, it’s an investment in a career where you get to send your colleagues home to their families safe and sound every single day.
And if that sounds like the right career for you, it might be time to look into a degree in health and safety.
Who's Offering Environmental, Health and Safety Degrees?
Here's a list of universities that offer environmental, health and safety degrees.
The University of Houston offers multiple degree plans in environmental science. Students may specialize in the areas of occupational health and safety, industrial hygiene, environmental biology, chemistry or geology. Tuition for these programs can range from $6,699 to $26,259 per semester.
The University of Denver offers an online/on campus master’s degree in environmental, health and safety. The University's EHS program presents a hands-on experience in the subjects of compliance, inspection and permitting. The school’s professors are highly qualified and experienced in environmental safety with many working in agencies and consulting firms. The entire tuition fee for this program is $30,144.
Texas A&M University offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in public health. Students enrolled in this program undergo courses in environmental health, occupational safety, biostatistics, and other EHS related courses. The 2016-2017 estimated cost of attendance may range from $25,228 to $43,458 per year.
This University offers students a Masters of Engineering with a concentration in EHS. Through business programs, students are trained in the field of environment management of industries and companies that use high technology resources. The 2016-2017 tuition for students residing at home, on campus or off-campus range from $11,086 to $27,875.
Ranked as one of the best universities in the Midwest, the University of Minnesota offers a master's degree in EHS. Students learn how to identify occupational health and safety issues and how to apply these practices and principles to make the workplace safer. Graduates go through extensive training from highly qualified and experienced tutors to work in various fields including environmental health, ergonomics, risk management, occupational safety and industrial hygiene. The Master of Environmental, Health and Safety Program goes for $643 for resident students and $1,020.25 for non-resident students per credit.
Starting Your Safety Career
For brand-new safety professionals (or safety students on the road to becoming safety professionals) the field of occupational health and safety can seem impossibly broad. We’re here to help you learn your field and become a stronger EHS professional.
Make sure to check out our blog for more great tips to get your career started on the right foot, like this post on occupational safety as a career.