Pros and Cons of a Health Compliance Officer Career
Health compliance officers help make sure work environments are safe. Learn about the pros and cons of becoming a health compliance officer and decide if this career is right for you.
|Pros of Being a Health Compliance Officer|
|Job tasks are geared to help protect the population from hazardous threats*|
|Relatively social job that builds on interpersonal, professional relationships*|
|High salary, with officers in 2014 earning average annual wage of $70,000**|
|Career Help enhance economic productivity in work spaces**|
|Cons of Being a Health Compliance Officer|
|Slower than average employment growth (7% between 2012-2022)**|
|Hazardous environments create potentially harmful work atmosphere**|
|Educational and training investment required for some jobs**|
|Irregular hours due to emergency calls**|
Sources: *O*NET OnLine, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Essential Career Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a health compliance officer investigates factories and offices to ensure that the establishment meets federal and state safety codes (www.bls.gov). Sometimes, these officers are called 'occupational health and safety specialists'. Officers may work for multiple companies, traveling between them to perform periodic inspections. Sometimes, they focus on a specific aspect of federal or state codes. For example, some may investigate environmental issues in offices, while others may investigate the ergonomic dimensions of workspace areas.
According to the BLS, in 2014 the average annual salary of a health compliance officer was approximately $70,000. Overall, median annual salaries of these officers in 2014 ranged from $40,000 - $101,000. The BLS projects 7% employment growth for health compliance officers between 2012-2022. Although this is considered slower-than-average growth, new environmental and nuclear regulations could help spur employment demands within the sector.
Education and Requirements
A college education is not mandatory for a career as a health compliance officer, but certain employers prefer to hire officers with at least a bachelor's degree in a field such as health, engineering, biology or chemistry. The BLS indicates that some employers may prefer a master's degree in industrial hygiene or health physics. Regardless of the main subject of study, classes in respiratory protection, hazardous material management and the health effects from radiation exposure are helpful for working in the field.
What do Employers Look for?
Jobs in health compliance are available in both the public and private sectors. Government jobs may require U.S. citizenship and passing a background check. Private sector employers are usually interested in hiring health compliance officers so that they can maximize worker or product safety and meet all federal or state regulations. Recent job postings found in March 2012 included:
- A work safety government in Cheyenne, Wyoming, needed an officer to inspect work spaces for health and safety hygiene. The job candidate was required to complete annual physical examinations to ensure that they could work in any physical environment in the state.
- An engineering company in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, sought a health compliance officer to inspect and monitor the company's workplace. The engineering firm contracted with government agencies and needed the officer to ensure that products, equipment, work-spaces and the general environment were up to federal standards. Candidates were required to have at least three years experience working in industrial services.
- A government bureau overseeing utilities near Bismarck, North Dakota, needed a compliance officer to monitor its hydro-electric dam. The professional was required to examine the workplace to determine if it met federal safety standards and ensure that areas surrounding the dam were safe for various construction projects.
How to Stand Out in the Field
In addition to work experience and having a degree, the BLS states that earning voluntary certification can help advance your career. The Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP), offers the Construction Health and Safety Technician (CHST) certification, which is designed for individuals who demonstrate knowledge of federal guidelines applicable to construction sites. The BCSP also offers the Occupational Health and Safety Technologist (OHST) certification, which is designed for individuals who understand common workplace safety standards in typical office environments.
All BCSP certifications require a bachelor's degree in any field or an associate's degree in occupational health and safety. For CHST certification you must pass an exam. For OHST certification, you must have five years work experience in occupational safety and pass an exam.
Other Careers to Consider
Occupational Health and Safety Technician
If working as a health compliance officer doesn't sound like a good fit, you might consider working as an occupational health and safety technician. These technicians often work alongside compliance officers and perform tasks such as taking samples from the environment for further study. According to the BLS, positions for technicians are expected to increase 13% between 2010-2020. In 2011, health and safety technicians earned an annual average salary of $48,000, as reported by the BLS.
Health and Safety Engineer
If you enjoy the idea of making an environment safe for people, but want a job that is more hands-on regarding the designing of spaces, you might be interesting in a career as a health and safety engineer. A health and safety engineer develops precautionary measures at a work site, evaluates machinery and other facility items to ensure they meet health codes, and review current employee safety codes and recommend ways to enhance them. Most health and safety engineers have a bachelor's degree. Job growth for health safety engineers is expected to grow 13% between 2010-2020. The average annual salary in 2011 these workers calculated to $79,000 according to the BLS.