Job Outlook 2015
Survey results indicate good market for safety pros
- Almost 9 out of 10 survey respondents said they consider their job “very stable” or “relatively stable.”
- More than one-quarter of respondents said they expect their departments to hire additional staff in the next 12 months.
- Not enough qualified candidates exist to fill all of the new positions and existing roles that will be vacated as an aging workforce increasingly decides to retire, survey results indicate.
Alvaro Taveira doesn’t need a heavy stack of government reports to gauge the job market for occupational safety and health professionals.
Instead, Taveira follows the paths of his students at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
“We always can measure a little bit of the market based on the demand for our interns,” said Taveira, professor and chairman of the Department of Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health. “For several semesters now, we’re in a situation where there are more companies looking for interns than we have students ready to take those internships.
“I think that this is a very good time to be graduating with a major in occupational safety,” Taveira added.
The majority of safety pros seem to agree, according to the results of Safety+Health’s 2015 Job Outlook survey.
More than 1,300 people responded to the survey, which included questions about staffing levels, personal employment outlooks, retirement considerations and organizational succession plans.
Although some respondents indicated difficulty finding work in certain markets, most said that jobs are secure and opportunities are expanding. Eighty-seven percent of respondents reported that they consider their job “very stable” or “relatively stable,” and more than one-quarter expect their department’s staffing level to increase in the next 12 months.
The positive outlook supports a 2011 NIOSH report that projected a strong demand for occupational safety and health professionals over the five years following the report. In its report, “National Assessment of the Occupational Safety and Health Workforce,” NIOSH estimated that employers would hire more than 25,000 safety professionals by 2016, which amounted to about 5,000 jobs per year.
Sarah Felknor collaborated on the study, which was conducted by Rockville, MD-based research organization Westat. Felknor works for NIOSH as the associate director for research integration and extramural performance.
“We have not conducted a follow-up survey at this point,” Felknor said. “We don’t know with certainty how the 2011 projections are panning out. One indicator of the projected demand is whether graduates are still being placed. We have a very high placement rate across our training programs. None of our NIOSH-funded programs are telling us they can’t place their graduates. In fact, many of our NIOSH programs are saying, ‘Our limits are based on the funding that we have available.’”