Occupational safety and health professionals who have certifications make considerably higher salaries than those who don’t, according to a new survey conducted jointly by the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) the American Industrial Hygiene Association® (AIHA), the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP), the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH), the Alliance of Hazardous Materials Professionals (AHMP), and the Institute of Hazardous Materials Management (IHMM).

The survey of more than 9,000 occupational safety and health professionals reveals they earn an annual base salary on average of $98,000 -- an increase of $8,000 since the survey was taken two years ago.

Certification differences are significant

The median annual base salary of individuals holding the Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) or the Certified Safety Professional (CSP) certification is $105,000, nearly $22,000 greater than the median annual base salary of survey respondents who held no license or certification. The gap in median annual salary between those holding CIH or CSP certifications and the typical Occupational Health and Safety Specialist is even greater—more than $30,000—according to salary information reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The survey results also show that individuals with both a CIH and CSP and no other licenses or credentials are compensated nearly $18,000 more than the total median annual base salary of all full-time employees surveyed. Individuals holding these two certifications see a higher impact on their salaries than those who have only a CIH or a CSP and one other license or credential.

The survey suggests that AIHA members and/or ABIH credential holders, that have tenure of five or more years earn a higher median annual base salary compared with all full-time employees surveyed.

A "positive impact"

“The results from this industry survey highlight the positive impact that having a license or credential can have on an individuals’ professional development and overall compensation,” said AIHA Executive Director, Peter J. O'Neil, FASAE, CAE.

ASSE President Michael Belcher, CSP said the results validate the earning power of OSH professionals. “I hope it encourages people within the industry or those thinking of pursuing an OSH career to seek accredited education programs to maximize their earning potential in such a dynamic field.”

"This latest salary survey further confirms that safety certification is valuable not only for individuals' professional practice, but the value is often reflected in compensation," said BCSP CEO, Dr. Treasa Turnbeaugh, CSP, ASP, CET.

Mostly male

Survey findings further paint the picture of the OSH professional as primarily male with 30% entering practice due to earning an OSH degree, with roughly half maintaining supervisory responsibility, traveling 20% of the time with 64% regularly working out of a facility/office and reporting up to operations/production (25%) followed by risk management (14%) and HR/admin (11%).

The complete results from the 2015 survey in addition to an interactive calculator are available online at www.asse.org/salarysurvey.