College of Business and Economics

Occupational Safety (Bachelor of Science)

The Occupational Safety degree prepares students for rewarding careers protecting America's workforce, the public and the natural environment from harm in today's age of rapid technological and scientific development. Occupational safety professionals are concerned with the interaction between people and the physical, chemical, biological and psychological factors which affect their safety, health and productivity.

Coursework covers a wide range of subjects including accident prevention, ergonomics, construction safety, environmental protection and regulatory compliance. Students are provided with essential skills that enable them to evaluate, devise and implement methods to control hazards. Occupational Safety majors are provided with a number of practical worksite activities, culminating in a full semester internship with a practicing safety professional. Please review the Program Educational Objectives and Student Outcomes.

In addition to a general track, majors can select from two different emphases: Construction Safety and Environmental Management. The department also offers two minor programs which provide a basic foundation in Occupational Safety or Environmental Management for students majoring in other fields.

The UW-Whitewater Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety has been accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. ABET accreditation is highly regarded in technical disciplines where quality, precision and safety are of the utmost importance. This accreditation assures employers that the program meets rigorous quality standards. 

In addition to the on-campus program, the Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety is available online. No matter how you complete your degree, the curriculum and learning outcomes will be the same. For information on completing your degree online, visit UW-Whitewater Online.

The UW-Whitewater Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety requires a minimum of 120 credits, including:

  • General education requirements 
  • Business requirements 
  • Major requirements 
  • Electives (to bring the total to at least 120 credits)

Information on the requirements specific to the occupational safety major, including emphases options, can be found in the Course Catalog. Major video guides and course planning sheets are also available in Four Year Planning Resources.

Individuals wishing to deepen their knowledge of safety with post-baccalaureate studies can consider the Master of Science in Environmental Safety and Health program, which is an online graduate degree program designed for working professionals. They also have the option of completing a  Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in Environmental Safety and Health.

Two safety minors are also available for both business non-business students. Requirements can be found in the Course Catalog, or in the College of Business and Economics listing of minors and certificates.

Job Outlook

National employment growth for occupational health and safety specialists and technicians is expected to be 6 percent 1 from 2018 to 2028, and 5 percent 2 for health and safety engineers. Most employers require a bachelor's degree in health and safety or related technical field for entry-level positions.

The Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) shares information on paths and outcomes for this lucrative, rewarding career in its safety profession publication.

There is also high a demand for health and safety professionals with advanced credentials. Based on a 2018 survey by the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) and the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP), 3 professionals with an industry-specific licensure/certification such as CSP can earn $20,000 more per year than those without, and those with a relevant master's degree earn an average of $9,000 more per year than those with a bachelor's degree.

Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians

National Median Pay (2019) 1

$70,480 per year

Number of Jobs in the United States (2018) 1


Health and Safety Engineers

National Median Pay (2019)  2

$91,410 per year

Number of Jobs in United States (2018)  2


UW-Whitewater Placement Information

Placement rate  4


Starting salary after graduation  5

About 70 percent reported initial salaries between $50,000 and $70,000

Current salary  5

About 50 percent reported  current salaries (with bonuses or additional compensation) above $70,000

Highlighted employers  4

Blattner Energy, Gilbane Building Co., M.A. Mortenson, Sentry Equipment, State of Wisconsin, Uihlein Electric

Common titles  4

Corporate Safety Specialist, Field Safety Coordinator, Risk Management Specialist, Safety Engineer, Site Safety Manager

Bureau of Labor and Statistics - Occupational Handbook:   Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians
Bureau of Labor and Statistics - Occupational Handbook:   Health and Safety Engineers
3BCSP SH&E Industry Salary Survey, 2018
4 Based on survey responses for the 2018-19 UW-Whitewater graduating class
5 Based on survey responses for 2015 - 2019 UW-Whitewater graduates