Certified Safety Professional: Job Duties, Employment Outlook, and Education Requirements

Research what it takes to become a certified safety professional. Learn about the education requirements, average salary and job growth to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Engineering & Technology Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Certified Safety Professional?

Certified safety professionals, also known as occupational health and safety specialists, ensure that work environments are maintained for workers' optimal health and safety. Their job tasks include identifying work place hazards, collecting potential toxic materials for inspection, and making sure work place environments, equipment and practices comply with corporate and government health and safety regulations. These professionals may also design work place practices that protect workers form hazards and conduct training. In the event of an accident, they are often tasked with investigating causes and developing protocols to prevent further incidents. The following chart provides an overview of the education, job outlook and average salary in this field.

Degree Required Associate's or bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Science, environmental law, emergency management, fire safety
Key Responsibilities Maintain safe conditions for people and property; investigate and prevent accidents; analyze risks; handle emergency responses
Certification Certification is optional, but recommended
Job Growth (2014-2024) 4% (for all occupational health and safety specialists)*
Mean Annual Salary (2015) $71,790 (for all occupational health and safety specialists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Do I Need to Become a Certified Safety Professional?

To become a Certified Safety Professional (CSP), according to the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP), you need a 2-year degree in health or safety, or a bachelor's degree or higher in any field (www.bcsp.org). Associate's degrees in programs such as occupational, environmental or health safety are available at community colleges, technical schools and 4-years colleges and universities. Coursework includes construction and fire safety, hazardous materials, environmental law and U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fundamentals.

While you don't need a bachelor's or master's degree to earn CSP certification, many 4-year colleges and universities have programs in occupational safety and health. Some programs concentrate on specific areas of safety, such as environment, fire safety, ergonomics or emergency management.

How Do I Get CSP Certification?

BCSP indicates that becoming certified as a safety professional may increase your earnings and job opportunities. To earn CSP certification, you must have at least a bachelor's degree in any field or an associate's degree in occupational health or safety. You also need a minimum three years of qualified professional safety experience, as well as a passing score on the CSP certification exam. After earning your CSP certification, you must become recertified every five years to maintain your credential.

What Would My Job Duties Be?

You would generally be responsible for the safety and well-being of people, property and the environment. Your job duties could include investigating potentially dangerous situations, analyzing the dangers and effects of activities and projects, and presenting and implementing safer alternatives. In addition to preventive research, you might participate in the research and improvement process following an accident or error. You could also monitor a particular organization for its effects people and the environment.

What Is the Career Outlook?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that the demand for specialists in occupational health and safety would continue to grow at a slightly below average rate of 4% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). Federal, state and local governments employ the majority of those who work in occupational health and safety. According to the BLS, in 2015 the average salary for CSPs at the federal level was $78,760, $59,630 at the state level and $61,930 at the local level. Overall, the BLS reported an annual mean salary of $71,790 in May 2015.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Like certified safety professionals, construction and building inspectors work to ensure the safety of workers, but specialize in construction. Many of the tasks are the same, but these professionals must possess an advanced knowledge of construction in order to identify unique industry-specific hazards and safety issues. Environmental scientists or specialists have an advanced knowledge of environmental science which they apply to improve the environmental health of an area and the safety of the people that live in it. Fire inspectors inspect buildings to insure that they comply with safety codes. In the event of a fire they are also tasked with investigating the cause of it.

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