In response to the recent findings of a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) report stating there will soon be a shortage of trained occupational safety and health professionals to fill the demand, the American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) President Terrie S. Norris, CSP, ARM, noted that ASSE will do what is needed to help ensure that these findings guide the direction NIOSH and the variety of education and training providers take in meeting the needs identified.
“The report should challenge the entire occupational safety and health community to work together to ensure that the far too few resources this nation has to educate and train environmental, health, and safety (EH&S) professionals are used wisely and appropriately to meet the actual needs employers have said they will face in the future,” Norris said in her letter commending NIOSH for sponsoring the study.
The report, the National Assessment of the Occupational Safety and Health Workforce, released October 3, 2011, that “although employers plan to hire at least 25,000 occupational safety and health professionals over the next five years, only about 12,000 new graduates are expected to be available from the academic programs that provide the needed pool of expertise nationally.” NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D., noted, “The results of this NIOSH-commissioned survey suggest a troubling shortfall of professional expertise at a time when such services are most needed.”
Norris also notes there has been a steady increase in the demand and popularity of EH&S professionals over the years. For instance, the November 2010 CNN Money magazine article, “The 50 Best Jobs in America,” listed the EH&S specialist job as number 22 in its “Best Job Rank” for job growth. The environmental engineer job was number five, and the risk management manager job was number 14.
A recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics study found employment of EH&S practitioners is expected to increase 9% during the decade spanning from 2006 to 2016. Additionally, the University of California San Diego Extension in 2010 listed the EH&S profession among a “dozen hot careers for college graduates.”
ASSE provides the following for those going into the SH&E field and those in the field:
- The ASSE online SH&E Education Resource Center
- ASSE student membership activities information
- ASSE also has job openings and online career tools for ASSE members
For employers, future, and current safety professionals, ASSE offers products and services such as the annual Professional Development Conference (PDC); SeminarFest; annual issue-specific symposiums; professional development classes throughout the year; on-site seminars; technical books; and certification preparation workshops; certificate programs, webinars, and virtual conferences.