Often working in manufacturing plants and construction sites, safety managers, also called safety coordinators, check that work environments and equipment do not present injury risks to employees and follow precautions to reduce workplace incidents. For example, they may check that a construction vehicle works properly or find ways to make an office more ergonomic for workers. This career requires an understanding of government safety regulations and industrial hygiene along with strong problem-solving and technical skills. While one's experience, industry and state where they work impact earnings, the average safety manager salary tends to be generous.
Based on the May 2017 data, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports an average wage for safety managers of $73,600. This safety job's salary range depends on factors such as experience, location and workplace.
Safety managers help an organization prevent, investigate and respond to workplace safety incidents. Their work requires performing detailed audits of the work environment, equipment and procedures to determine if they comply with government health and safety regulations such as those set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). While coordinating with government agencies, they develop and review workplace safety training programs and work to improve ergonomics and safe equipment operation. When someone gets hurt on the job, safety managers keep detailed documentation of what happened, how the company responded and what measures to take to keep employees safe.
The most common requirement for a safety manager position is a bachelor's degree related to occupational health or safety along with an understanding of OSHA principles. Relevant degree programs may cover general workplace safety topics or offer specializations in industries such as construction or manufacturing. Common topics studied include safety training, hazardous materials, safety analysis, environmental law and fire safety. Graduates can pursue a master's degree in the field or pursue a workplace safety certification from the American Board of Industrial Hygiene or the Board of Certified Safety professionals.
Federal, state and local governments employ around a quarter of safety managers. Others often work for manufacturers, hospitals, construction companies and consulting services firms. Smaller numbers work in natural resource extraction, mining, transportation and distribution. Depending on the work setting, safety managers may spend time outdoors, work in dangerous locations or have to travel to multiple locations for inspections. Workplace incidents can also require them to work odd hours or be on call.
Years of Experience and Salary
According to the May 2017 data from the BLS, the average safety manager salary is $73,600 a year. The lowest-earning 10 percent of safety managers get less than $41,670 a year, and the highest-earning 10 percent get more than $105,840 a year. The top employers – local, federal and state governments – pay average wages of $63,780, $82,290 and $62,190. Those who work in pipeline transportation, oil and gas extraction, and natural gas distribution earn the top average wages of $101,610, $90,320 and $90,080, respectively. Rhode Island offers the top average wage of $92,600, and South Carolina pays the lowest average wage of $60,370.
An average safety coordinator salary depends on experience, as well. As of October 2018, PayScale shows this average salary progression for the occupation:
- 0 to 5 years: $56,000
- 5 to 10 years: $67,000
- 10 to 20 years: $75,000
- 20 or more years: $79,000
Job Growth Trend
The BLS expects safety managers and other occupational health and safety specialists to have an 8-percent rate of job growth between 2016 and 2026, which is an average growth that adds around 6,800 positions over the decade. Organizations will seek safety managers to help ensure compliance with workplace safety regulations and reduce costly incidents. Safety managers can stand out to potential employers with certification, diverse experience and a degree in occupational health and safety.