College Station, Texas — Question: In what field do recent college graduates average eight job offers, where those with just two years' experience can earn $30,000, and where industry recruiters ask universities, "What does it take to get one of your graduates?"
Answer: The new field of safety engineering.
"The market is there," says Dr. Richard Konzen of Texas A&M University's Industrial Engineering Department. "Industry is crying for this graduate. We simply don't have enough in the pipeline."
As he explains, no industry in the US has workers who are exempt from potential physical or chemical hazards. "The safety engineer tries to protect workers against these kinds of hazards. Human resources are still the most important asset of a business," Dr. Konzen says.
Safety engineers have responsibility for both human and business loss. Along with injury prevention, they are also involved in machine design and plant layout.
When industries can't find safety engineers in the graduation line, most will press civil, mechanical, electrical, or nuclear engineers -- and even nonengineers -- into service.