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Safety Distance Learning Masters

Aug 17, 2007
Safety Distance Learning Masters is the path chosen by working engineers to specialize in this rewarding career, and both the demand for Safety Engineers, as well as the role they play in design teams have increased. Safety Engineering, a specialization of Systems Engineering, has matured during the past few decades, to become an independent branch in its own might, mainly due to the development of unimaginably complex systems in military, industry, and civilian infrastructure, which hold the potential to cause massive catastrophe to human life and property, as well as serious financial damage.

The field of Safety Engineering should not be confused with the related but clearly distinct field of Occupational Health and Safety, sometimes called as just Health and Safety. To add to the confusion, Safety Engineering is often titled Health and Safety Engineering, by some institutions and industry segments. Academically, the most distinguishing factor between the two allied fields is that while Occupational Health and Safety might have Applied Science, Engineering, and Management components, Safety Engineering is purely an engineering branch.

What it Involves

Safety Distance Learning Masters involves taking a Master of Science (M.S.) or Master of Engineering (M.E.) degree in Safety Engineering, or Health and Safety Engineering, or in Systems Engineering with emphasis on Safety Engineering, from Universities or Colleges offering these courses through the online or distant mode. Generally, Safety Distance Learning Masters is attempted by working engineers with a Bachelor Degree in branches like Mechanical, Production, Industrial, Chemical, Electrical, or Civil, who can put Safety Engineering to use in their domains.

Due to the shorter history of the subject, the available courses in Safety Distance Learning Masters are somewhat limited in number, and it might be necessary to also look at Systems Engineering courses with main or partial emphasis on Safety Engineering, to find a suitable degree in this subject. Membership in the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), and the Certified Safety Professional (CSP) certification from the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP), can also be attempted by working engineers opting for Safety Distance Learning Masters.

Why Safety Engineering?

The majority of Safety Engineers with a Master Degree get an average salary of more than US $63,000, which can go up to more than US $92,000 depending upon on experience, expertise, and certifications like CSP. However, it is not financial prospects alone that are attracting more and more engineers to take up Safety Engineering - it has more to do with the increasingly important role these professionals have come to assume in design teams, during the past several years.

Though many aspects of Safety Engineering have been in practice since the early 1900s, it was only very recently that Safety Engineering gathered prominence and momentum in the industry as an engineering branch in its own might. The problem was that though Safety Engineers were always part of the engineering team, their role was limited to inspecting completed projects for possible hazards, and recommending additional modules to overcome the detected safety problems. Such an ad-hoc approach to Safety Engineering - often called 'Industrial Safety' - is followed even to this day in industries like Chemical Manufacturing. The real revolution in Safety Engineering happened when the US Military realized that 'Industrial Safety' is not enough for complex mission-critical applications like Aerospace, Space Shuttles, Nuclear Reactors, Submarines, and Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM). The newly developed Systems Approach - as in Systems Engineering - was applied to Safety Engineering, to come up with what is today termed as System Safety, and is the main reason behind Safety Engineering's prominence, today.

In contrast with the earlier 'Industrial Safety' methods, System Safety procedures ensure the Safety Engineer's role in the design team from the preliminary design phase itself. No stage of the design passes to the next stage without the Safety Engineer's approval, and it is often half-jokingly told that Safety Engineers say the last word in design!

Today, Safety Engineering's Systems Approach is found not only in military or mission-critical applications, but throughout the industry, and in various civilian infrastructure projects like undersea tunnels and earthquake resistant high-rises, thereby fuelling the demand for Safety Engineers.

Why Safety Distance Learning Masters?

Since the subject is less intensive on hands-on lab work, and more intensive on engineering mathematics, decision making structures, predictive models, and specialized Safety Engineering software packages (like, CAFTA used for Nuclear Reactors, and SAPHIRE used for Space Shuttles), Safety Distance Learning Masters is very much deliverable using current distance or online technologies.

The fact that the majority of aspirants for Safety Distance Learning Masters, are working engineers, adds to its attraction as the preferred mode for this subject.

What to Expect from Safety Distance Learning Masters, in the Future?

Federal Government and various R&D oriented Government Agencies like NASA, DOE, USAF, etc. continues to be the major employers of Safety Engineers in the USA. However, this is rapidly changing with the private sector industries going for Safety Engineering in a big way. This demand will see more and more courses and options coming up in Safety Distance Learning Masters.
About the Author
Jim Zorn is web master of the Guide to Distance Learning. Please visit to learn more about online colleges and universities, distance learning degrees, majors and courses offered.
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