Professional development

2021 Job Outlook

Photo: DragonImages/iStockphoto

The COVID-19 pandemic has hindered job stability and the job market for many professions. But for occupational safety and health pros, the results of Safety+Health’s 2021 Job Outlook survey indicate stability – and even optimism – for the near future.

In March, S+H sent out its annual survey. Although approximately 43% of respondents said they expect no change in their departments’ staffing levels in the forthcoming year, nearly a third (30%) expect their departments to add more staff.

“I believe this is a growing field as more companies see benefits in changing the way employees think and execute safety in their jobs,” one respondent wrote.

Another: “More and more businesses/employers are getting on board with staffing safety and health professionals to manage their programs and improve the safety culture in their organizations.”

Additionally, 95% of respondents consider their jobs “very stable” or “relatively stable.”

What's the Job Outlook for safety professionals?
Browse the 2021 survey results.
Chart: Staff size change in your department
The safety staff
Chart: Your job stability
Personal outlook
Chart: Has COVID-19 helped safety pros' profiles?
COVID-19 impact

Raising the profession, but not necessarily respect

Nearly 3 out of 4 respondents believe the pandemic has raised the profile of occupational safety and health.

“With COVID-19, OSH professionals are now being looked at, and to, more often to ensure the health and safety of employees, facilities/offices, and agencies as a whole,” one respondent wrote. “COVID-19 has finally allowed OSH professionals the opportunity to at least be heard at the ‘table’ if not having a seat at the ‘table.’ Executive management is now seeing what OSH professionals are doing, can do and have the ability to do.” 

Survey participants, however, were almost evenly split on whether that translated into more respect. Around 51% responded “No” to the question, “Do you feel your professional skills are more respected than they were before the pandemic?”

One respondent wrote: “Safety professional skill and respect is something which is gained over time. A single issue of a pandemic will not increase the perceived respect of me or my skills. Consistency, caring, equality and doing brings the respect you speak of.”

‘Still a great profession’

For around 71% of survey respondents, the pandemic hasn’t changed their feelings about the safety profession.

“It is still a great profession to be in as it involves many aspects of various professions and yet has its own science to be aware of,” one respondent wrote. “It also is never the same every day. It is still a noble occupation to be in.” 

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