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Safety Engineers

At a Glance

  • Make sure work places and products are safe
  • Often specialize in one area
  • Usually work full time
  • Have good analytical skills
  • Have a bachelor's degree
  • May need a license

Career summary

Safety engineers look for ways to prevent accidents in the work place.

Industrial safety and health engineers make sure work places are safe. They inspect buildings and machines for hazards and safety violations. Engineers also monitor the general work environment. They test the air and water quality, noise levels, and temperature.

Safety engineers investigate accidents and write reports of their findings. They plan and implement programs for preventing or correcting unsafe conditions. They may train workers to use safety equipment and clothing. They may install the safety devices themselves. Safety engineers in some companies design special safety clothing or safety devices for machinery.

Safety engineers may specialize in fire prevention. They study buildings to evaluate how quickly fires would spread through them. They determine where to place:

Safety engineers may train staff how to fight fires in their buildings. They also analyze the causes of fires so they can determine how to prevent future fires. Fire safety engineers must know their city's fire protection laws.

Some safety engineers specialize in product safety. They make sure companies design products that are safe. They investigate accidents and write reports about their findings. Engineers recommend how companies can change their product designs.

Related careers

This career is part of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to safety engineers.

Common work activities

Safety engineers perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, safety engineers:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Safety engineers frequently:

It is important for safety engineers to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for safety engineers to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Safety engineers need to:


Reason and problem solve

Use math and science

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Work with things

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a safety engineer, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Most students prepare for this field by earning a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering. Many four-year colleges and universities offer this program of study. However, fewer schools offer programs specifically in safety engineering. Some engineering schools do not offer a bachelor's degree in safety engineering, but do offer it as a master's program.

Some jobs require a master's or doctoral degree. For instance, if you are interested in teaching industrial engineering you need a doctoral degree (PhD).

Work experience

You should consider participating in an internship while in college. An internship is usually part of a four-year degree program. It offers you a chance to apply what you have learned in the classroom to a work situation. It also allows you to build skills and make contacts with people in the field.

On-the-job training

New graduates work under the guidance of experienced engineers. In large companies, you may also receive formal classroom training. This usually lasts about a month.

Military training

Some branches of the military train people to be environmental health and safety officers. You need a bachelor's degree to enter this military occupation. Some training is provided on the job.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum may be different from your state's graduation requirements.

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

A few states require safety engineers to be licensed. Most employers in these states require engineers to have their licenses.

Employers prefer to hire applicants who know something about each of the three major categories in occupational safety and health: safety, industrial hygiene, and environmental management. Employers look for applicants who have good communication skills. They also look for applicants who can work with a variety of people.

Costs to workers

Some workers join a professional association, which may have annual dues.


Engineers employed in responsible positions in government or in firms offering services to the public, or who stamp their work as being done by an engineer, must be licensed by the Washington State Department of Licensing.

Getting a license as an engineer-in-training requires:

Professional engineer licensing requirements include:

Engineers who wish to be licensed as professional engineers must pay $65 to the State for an initial national exam application. After State approval, engineers must pay for the registration examination from the National Council of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors. The license renewal fee is $116 every two years. Not all engineers in Washington must be licensed.

For licensing information, contact:

Washington State Department of Licensing
Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and
Land Surveyors Licensing Program (external link)

PO Box 9025
Olympia, WA 98507-9025

For information on testing, contact:

National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (external link)
PO Box 1686
Clemson, SC 29633-1686


Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Health and safety engineers, except mining safety engineers and inspectors (SOC 17-2111)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $30.79 $35.66 $45.66 $58.21 $72.13
Monthly $5,336 $6,180 $7,913 $10,088 $12,500
Yearly $64,040 $74,170 $94,970 $121,080 $150,020
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $43.82 $46.30 $52.92 $58.63 $64.76
Monthly $7,594 $8,024 $9,171 $10,161 $11,223
Yearly $91,151 $96,299 $110,067 $121,957 $134,705
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $34.70 $42.21 $53.94 $65.58 $81.46
Monthly $6,014 $7,315 $9,348 $11,365 $14,117
Yearly $72,178 $87,812 $112,197 $136,411 $169,436
    Longview Hourly $23.20 $32.82 $40.93 $47.11 $52.86
Monthly $4,021 $5,688 $7,093 $8,164 $9,161
Yearly $48,241 $68,274 $85,139 $97,983 $109,964
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $13.11 $14.16 $16.91 $25.19 $38.85
Monthly $2,272 $2,454 $2,931 $4,365 $6,733
Yearly $27,280 $29,464 $35,167 $52,391 $80,812
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $31.03 $39.70 $48.15 $56.71 $63.10
Monthly $5,377 $6,880 $8,344 $9,828 $10,935
Yearly $64,542 $82,583 $100,154 $117,955 $131,241
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $25.12 $33.13 $36.41 $39.70 $45.53
Monthly $4,353 $5,741 $6,310 $6,880 $7,890
Yearly $52,253 $68,914 $75,736 $82,573 $94,706
    Vancouver Hourly $28.47 $33.35 $38.61 $50.67 $70.26
Monthly $4,934 $5,780 $6,691 $8,781 $12,176
Yearly $59,207 $69,373 $80,302 $105,394 $146,152
United States Hourly $25.56 $32.41 $42.85 $55.87 $68.74
Monthly $4,430 $5,617 $7,426 $9,682 $11,913
Yearly $53,170 $67,420 $89,130 $116,220 $142,970

Wages vary by employer and area of the country. The engineer's specialty, experience, and level of responsibility also affect wages.

Safety engineers who work full time usually receive benefits. Typical benefits include health and life insurance, paid vacation, and sick leave. Some employers also provide a retirement plan.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Health and Safety Engineers, Except Mining Safety Engineers and Inspectors (SOC 17-2111)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 661 18.6% 16.1% 71
    Benton and Franklin Counties 130 10.0% 15.0% 11
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 13 7.7% 11.9% 1
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 82 17.1% 15.2% 8
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 11 9.1% 14.1% 1
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 91 27.5% 14.6% 11
    King County 223 35.0% 19.6% 33
    Pierce County 22 22.7% 15.2% 2
    Snohomish County 14 7.1% 12.4% 1
    Spokane County 37 13.5% 13.9% 3
United States 27,000 5.2% 5.2% 2,000

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for this occupation is growing steadily. The public is concerned about safety in manufacturing, health care, and engineering. There is also growing demand for software safety engineers. Many machines are now controlled by software and it is important that safety standards are followed and monitored.

Other resources

American Industrial Hygiene Association (external link)
3141 Fairview Park Drive, Suite 777
Falls Church, VA 22042
American Society of Safety Professionals (external link)
520 North Northwest Highway
Park Ridge, IL 60068
Board of Certified Safety Professionals (external link)
Discover Engineering (external link)
Engineer Girl! (external link)
National Academy of Engineering
Health Physics Society (HPS) (external link)
950 Herndon Parkway, Suite 450
Herndon, VA 20170
Institute of Makers of Explosives (external link)
1120 - 19th Street NW, Suite 310
Washington, DC 20036
National Academy of Engineering (external link)
500 Fifth Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (external link)
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) (external link)
Society of Fire Protection Engineers (external link)
9711 Washington Boulevard, Suite 380
Gaithersburg, MD 20878
Society of Women Engineers (external link)
130 East Randolph Street, Suite 3500
Chicago, IL 60601
Technology Student Association (external link)
1904 Association Drive
Reston, VA 20191-1540
Washington State Science & Engineering Fair (external link)


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupations

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Holland occupational clusters