Nearly every major industry requires safety professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for occupational safety and health specialists is good and will continue to grow each year until 2016. The educational requirement begins with an associate degree in occupational health and safety. An associate degree in the safety field can lead the way to jobs such as field safety supervisor, safety coordinator, safety engineer, and safety and occupational health specialist.

Determine whether you desire to attend a traditional school, an online school, or a combination of both. Online schools may be more convenient but they offer fewer professional contacts and less "hands on" or field work.

Evaluate the classes in each school's program against your interests and career goals. Some schools focus curriculum on one or two subject matters, such as fire behavior, environmental science or hazardous waste management. If you are interested in a specific health and safety career field, carefully evaluate each program to choose the right school for you.

Apply to the chosen school. Nearly all schools have contact information and application instructions online. Review the school's financial aid information.

Set aside 18 to 30 months to complete the health and safety program. How fast you earn an associate degree depends in part on whether you take classes full time or part time. Discuss your options with your school counselor.

Don't stop. After you have completed your associate degree in occupational health and safety, consider earning your bachelor's degree. There is no better time to finish it. You will have developed the study habits that you need to get it done. A bachelor's degree will increase your future earning potential.

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  • A Certified Safety Professional (CSP) credential is required for some mid-level and top-tier safety positions. The Board of Certified Safety Professionals will often recognize an AS degree in occupational safety and health as meeting the requirements for the CSP application.

About the Author

Eric Duncan is a military veteran and a professional in the safety, travel and aviation industries. Duncan has been writing since 2002 for magazines, newspapers, local business literature and on such websites as He has earned his Bachelor of Science in professional aeronautics and his Master of Business Administration.