Occupational health and safety specialists, who also may be referred to as health inspectors, identify unsafe conditions in workplaces and fix them. Common safety hazards include toxic substances, such as asbestos, lead, and radioactive or chemical agents; unsafe equipment; and working conditions and processes that aren't ergonomically sound. Their educational background usually includes a bachelor's degree in occupational health or a closely related field.
Average and Median Salaries:
As of 2011, about 57,950 health and safety inspectors were working in the United States, according to reports by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average wage paid to health inspectors was $32.37 an hour, and health inspectors reported an average salary of $67,340 a year. The median-earning 50 percent of occupational health inspectors working in the U.S. earned yearly incomes between $50,710 and $82,560.
Pay by Industry:
About one third of occupational health and safety specialists worked for the government in 2011. Local inspectors earned the least, with an average of $58,240 a year, and state inspectors earned slightly more, averaging $60,110 per year. Inspectors employed by the federal government earned significantly more, bringing home an average yearly income of $76,450. Of those who were not government employees, health inspectors working directly for the computer-design industry reported the highest earnings: an average of $88,390 a year.
Pay by State:
The highest-paying state for health inspectors in 2011 was the District of Columbia. Inspectors working there earned an average of $87,050 per year. California ranked second with a reported average of $78,310 a year, followed by Rhode Island at $76,620 per year. Maryland ranked fourth, where health inspectors earned an average of $75,440 a year, and Colorado ranked fifth, with workers earning an average salary of $74,630 a year. The lowest average income, $53,220 per year, was reported in South Carolina.
The BLS expects the employment of occupational health and safety specialists to grow at a rate of about 9 percent between 2010 and 2020. This is significantly lower than the 14 percent average rate of growth predicted for the workers across all fields. The bureau predicts that job openings will be most numerous for those who specialize in safety for the nuclear industry and for health and safety inspectors who work as loss prevention specialists for insurance companies.