The reasons to pursue a career in occupational and environmental health and safety are many.
Impact on Others
For some, the notion of devoting a career to saving and improving other people’s lives is the primary attraction. The opportunity to leave an impact is tremendous. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 5,000 people suffer fatal work injuries in the U.S. annually — with the typical victim being a 30-year-old man or woman with two children — while there are more than 2.7 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses each year.
Those numbers are staggering on their own, but the magnitude is heightened by further considering the individuals impacted by these incidents: workers whose lives are cut short or who are left with debilitating injuries, families left to grieve a loved one’s death or scramble to make ends meet when an injury to the primary breadwinner puts them out of work, children who grow up without a parent.
Occupational and environmental health and safety professionals cannot eliminate deaths and injuries. But they dramatically lower their frequency, and by doing so reduce human suffering by untold amounts.
Job Diversity and Wide Opportunity
Fortunately, there is a wide range of disciplines within occupational and environmental safety and health that allow professionals to be part of this meaningful work. These include industrial hygiene, occupational injury prevention, occupational health nursing, occupational medicine, ergonomics and safety. The job opportunities within each discipline are also varied, and RMCOEH’s training prepares graduates for high-level jobs in private industry, government, and academia. Students who enter one of these fields may have their sights set on being the safety director at a large company, getting their hands dirty at high-risk industrial job sites, treating patients who’ve experienced occupational injuries, and/or conducting research that shapes how we think about — and act on — key issues.
Earn a Living Wage
This line of work is also lucrative, with pay for positions within these fields commensurate with their importance to society. Many jobs offer salaries starting at or near six figures with opportunities for advancement. RMCOEH trainees report being particularly well prepared for professional success and often assume management roles either directly following graduation or shortly thereafter.
It’s easy to understand why so many occupational and environmental health and safety professionals are passionate about what they do. The work is rewarding, the employment opportunities plenty, and the pay substantial. But whatever one’s motivation for considering this field, one thing is clear: Workers throughout the U.S. need as many qualified people as possible striving each day to make their jobs and workplaces safer.