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March 3-7, 2026

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Survey: Safety Professionals Are Broadly Satisfied With Careers



If you’re an environmental health and safety manager in the construction industry, you’re probably making a six-figure salary and are pleased with your chosen career. You also likely feel that your company values safety, even though your department’s budget hasn’t increased in the past year. 

Those are some of the findings from EHS Today’s 2023 National Safety & Salary Survey, a poll of 744 EHS professionals in the United States. Construction professionals made up 14% of respondents, while safety leaders working in light or heavy manufacturing accounted for 29%, the largest share of respondents. 

The survey found that in construction, EHS managers and supervisors had an average salary of $102,580, higher than the $99,558 average for all respondents with those titles. One step below them, EHS professionals had an average salary of $83,722. EHS directors and vice presidents, meanwhile, made an average of $132,551.  

Male respondents made an average of $13,000 more than their female counterparts, according to the survey. The largest share of respondents, about one-third, worked in the Midwest, where the average salary for a safety leader was $94,339. Respondents on the West Coast had the highest average salary at $113,294. 

Eighty percent of respondents said they received a raise last year, with 20% saying they got a pay bump of 5% or more. But 48% said they don’t get a bonus, and another 21% said they got a bonus of less than $5,000.  

When asked how satisfied they were with the safety profession, 84% of respondents said they’re either satisfied or very satisfied, while only 2% said they’re unsatisfied, according to the survey. Similarly, 76% said they’re satisfied or very satisfied with their current jobs, compared with 9% who were unsatisfied or very unsatisfied. 

It’s not surprising that so many construction safety leaders are pleased with their career choice given that they generally make a good salary and gain satisfaction from helping to keep workers safe, according to James R. Thornton, president of the American Society of Safety Professionals. 

“They know innately that they’ve made a difference, and I think that’s very rewarding,” Thornton said. “Interestingly enough, our greatest reward is the incident that didn’t happen – the avoidance of an injury or illness. The people who are leading those efforts know what those efforts are producing.” 

Support from management appears to be driving those satisfaction numbers. The survey found that 83% of organizations provided active and visible support for safety initiatives, while 68% of respondents said their company prioritizes safety over production or other business demands.  

Still, 65% of safety leaders said their budget stayed the same in the past year, while 25% saw an increase and 10% experienced a decrease. 

“I think the work done by safety managers and leaders is generally undervalued,” Thornton said, noting that employers have a “moral obligation” to create safe jobsites. Meeting that obligation results in “comprehensive savings” for companies in the form of lower rates for workers’ compensation insurance and reduced liability from injuries, he added. 

“It has been shown that a dollar invested in safety produces multiple dollars of return, so even though budgets have remained stable, increases in budgets would produce returns that are very positive,” Thornton said. 

Safety departments tend to be small, with 45% of respondents saying they manage zero employees and 39% saying they have fewer than 10 direct reports. The largest share of respondents, 37%, said they work in a plant or factory, while 25% work in corporate offices and 11% work at construction sites or jobsites.  

In addition to safety, 67% of respondents said they’re responsible for occupational health, 64% for risk management, 61% for ergonomics and 57% for fire protection.   

From a demographic standpoint, safety leaders have a lot in common, with 70% having at least a bachelor’s degree, 70% being men, 76% being at least 45 years old, 82% being White and 68% having more than 10 years of experience.  

Latinos made up 7% of those surveyed, up from 5% the previous year, but overall, the safety industry has made little headway in diversifying its workforce, according to the survey. That effort is underway, however, as 68% of respondents said their companies had launched diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.  

Thornton said the lack of diversity among ESH professionals reflects a broader issue in STEM fields, underscoring the importance of outreach to the entire pool of jobseekers.  

“We need more women and people of color to get engaged in STEM education, which then leads you into safety and health,” he said. “I think that is starting to turn, but still, we have to let women and people of color know about the rewards that come from a safety career. We have to educate people early, even in high school, about those opportunities, and ASSP is doing some of that very work.”


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