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Deciding on a degree that is more beneficial than another is subjective. What is favorable to one may not favor another for a variety of reasons. In this post, we will attempt to make an objective assessment.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

This federal agency collects, tabulates, and dispenses vital economic data to the public. As a branch of the U.S.Department of Labor, its information is valuable to individuals and corporations who have easy access to their facts and statistics.

We begin the analysis of the two degrees by looking at the data presented by the BLS. Do the statistics indicate that occupational safety is more beneficial than the occupation of emergency management? The latter has a median pay of $72,760 per year ($34.98/hour) with a projected ten-year growth of 8% or a change in 800 jobs. There are, according to the BLS, 10,110 jobs in the category of Emergency Management Directors.

The category of Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians has a median salary of $67,720 per year ($32.56/hour) and a projected growth rate of 8% or a change in 8,600 jobs through 2026.

The BLS reports that the above average annual wage consists of health and safety specialists and technicians. The former earn $71,780, and the latter have a median income of $49,960. Technicians may enter the occupation with an associate’s degree or certificate, plus on-the-job-training. Specialists typically have a bachelor’s degree, according to the BLS information.

The safety specialists and EM directors have similar salaries. The advantage seems to favor the former with a higher number of potential job changes. Also, there are ten times as many individuals working in occupational health and safety.

Administrative vs. Technical

Do you favor a role administrating and managing personnel during calamities? Or do you prefer the technical aspect of construction safety, fire protection, and safety programs?

A Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety and Health provides graduates with knowledge for assessing workplace hazards, implementing safety programs, perform risk control, and administer state and local laws and regulations about occupational safety. Examples of classes are:

Construction Safety: Explores laws and regulations in the construction industry that concern the health and safety of workers. The topics include injury prevention, workplace hazards, safety equipment, and an employer’s responsibilities. The prevention of fatalities and severe injury common to this industry sector are points of emphasis also.

Ergonomics: This is the study of ergonomics pertinent to most industries. You may explore something as simple as proper seating for sedentary employees to providing a work environment to meet the physical challenges of specific occupations. You will learn how to collect data on user experiences and operators and how to convert the data to productive workplace design.

Fire Prevention: Focuses on various aspects of preventing fires. Prevention includes ensuring structures comply with fire codes and fire suppression systems are operational. Students learn about the fire inspection process as seen through the eyes of the legal and political systems.

Some of the standard classes in an Emergency Management undergraduate program are:

Fire and Emergency Services Administration: The course teaches managerial skills to take charge when a disaster occurs. Learn about delegation and strategies to best deal with catastrophes.

Disaster Planning and Response: Explore the nuances of planning for and responding to emergencies situations affecting a community.

Community Risk: You will gain an understanding of the social, psychological, and legal components of reducing a community’s exposure to a hazardous event.

occupat vs emerg smart

The occupational safety degree will benefit the science-minded student. Individuals interested in studying hazardous materials, system safety analysis, applied fire analysis, construction safety, fire prevention, and fire behavior. This profession may also benefit the person who prefers to work behind the scenes.

Emergency management does not favor those who are uncomfortable with public speaking. This role can evolve into a position of supervising, directing, and shuffling personnel. It demands the personality of someone who relishes taking control of stressful situations. These arise during times of natural and human-made catastrophic events. The profession will probably not appeal to those whose temperament cannot bear the chaos when tragedy strikes in a city or community.

By studying occupational safety, you have the benefit of allowing your career to transition from this field to emergency management. The safety programs offer courses in safety management, environmental law and management, and health management. All of which would benefit an application to manage disasters and related events. In comparison, the emergency management coursework tends to minimize subjects associated with the technical issues as referenced.

Additional Resources

What Specializations are there in an Emergency Management Degree?

What is the Benefit of a Degree in Fire Science vs. Emergency Management?

How can I gain experience in Emergency Management while attending College?

What is the benefit of a health and safety engineering degree vs an occupational health and safety degree?

How can I upgrade my Emergency Management Degree?