OSHA, or Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is a federal agency that monitors working conditions across all industries and professions. The fact that it’s a government agency can complicate getting employment due to the fact you have to “fit” a certain profile for OSHA inspection jobs, but if you can pass a background check and fulfill other requirements, you stand a good chance at getting employment.
I Want to Work for OSHA. What Do I Have to Do?
In order to work for OSHA without prior employment as an inspector, you should have an associate’s degree at the very least and the degree should cover a type of health and safety training. If you have experience working as a safety inspector in a given field, you can earn certifications in safety and health for a variety of industries and apply for employment at OSHA in a related role. OSHA inspector jobs require applicants to have education, experience, or both in order to be considered as a qualified candidate for the role.
Another avenue towards employment at OSHA is to have military experience working in an inspection role. Having a military career with commendations for the work you did as an inspector is something that can give you an edge when it comes to working for OSHA. The agency recognizes that you underwent training to know how to hold other members of the military accountable for their work, to perform their jobs correctly, and to maintain safety standards at all times. This education and experience translates well to the civilian world and is equivalent to education and work experience for a civilian.
What Kind of Education and Qualifications Do I Need to Work for OSHA?
Working for OSHA entails inspecting workplaces for compliance and health and safety violations. Many people start working for OSHA as an entry level inspector and are hired at the GS-6 pay scale, or General Schedule 6. A GS-6 job requires the applicant to have at least one year of experience at the GS-5 level or possess an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. You may also be required to demonstrate specialized experience that’s relevant to the OSHA inspection job you’re applying for.
When looking at getting a degree for an OSHA inspection job, you should focus on majoring in a field of study that involves one of the following: health sciences, biology, mathematics, and chemistry. You may also want to earn certificates related to the construction field as OSHA inspector jobs also focus on industrial and construction compliance.
According to OSHA, the specialized experience requirements to get hired at GS-6 include experience in “identifying, preventing or eliminating safety hazards in a production process or environmental conditions.” You also need to have experience inspecting physical locations for safety violations, the ability to identify an existing problem and how to correct the problem as well as showing how to perform the process in a safe and correct manner after the safety violation has been identified.
If you’ve previously worked as a safety inspector for a private employer or local government for at least one year, you are qualified to work for OSHA under their hiring standards. Inspector jobs can include fire safety inspection, medical technician, industrial hygiene inspector, and any role that involves ensuring safety and health compliance within a given industry.
How Much Can I Make Working for OSHA?
As previously mentioned, OSHA inspection jobs typically start at the GS-6 level. The schedule base payscale is based upon the metropolitan area that you live in. That is, if you live in the Chicago-Naperville metro area, you can expect to earn $44,973 as an entry-level inspector. Each schedule has what’s known as a step, and there are 10 steps in each GS. Therefore, you may find yourself hired at the GS-6 level with a step 1 salary for an entry-level inspector. The longer you work for OSHA, the higher your step can go. GS-6 pay maxes out at around $58,000, depending on location, but you may be moved up to the next payscale, GS-7, before you reach step 10 in GS-6.
Getting a raise while working at OSHA is based on time spent in your career. If you have acceptable or exceptional performance, you’ll go up a step in pay during years 1 to 3, every two years at steps 4 to 6, and every three years at steps 7 to 9. It takes 18 years of employment to go from step 1 to 10 if an employee stays in the same pay grade. However, the agency can authorize advancement to a higher step in a shorter amount of time and promote an employee to the next payscale at its discretion.