Become a Certified Safety Professional in 5 Steps

Research what it takes to become a certified safety professional. Learn about education, training and certification requirements 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 Does a Certified Safety Professional Do?

Certified safety professionals ensure that the workplace is a safe and professional environment at all times. They are in charge of making sure that all aspects of a given workplace are compliant with standards put in place by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). When an accident occurs, a safety professional conducts an investigation into the events and files reports with the necessary departments, and might also conduct routine training exercises. Take a look at the following chart for an overview of how to enter this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Occupational health and safety, public safety, engineering
Key Responsibilities Design and implement workplace safety initiatives, conduct workplace safety inspections, keep current with state and federal government safety guidelines
Certification Certification is voluntary yet highly recommended
Job Growth (2014-2024) 4% (for all occupational health and safety specialists)*
Median Salary (2015) $70,210 (for all occupational health and safety specialists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Certified Safety Professional?

As a certified safety professional, you are a trained specialist who designs and implements programs that attempt to prevent or eliminate workplace illnesses or injuries. You may also conduct inspections to ensure that businesses are adhering to safety guidelines established by the state and federal governments.

Step 1: Get Trained

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that most employers prefer safety professionals with bachelor's degrees (www.bls.gov). Baccalaureate programs that are consistent with your vocation include occupational health and safety, public safety and engineering. Other related disciplines that correlate with aspects of science and safety, such as chemistry and biology, are also acceptable.

Your bachelor's degree program for occupational health and safety or public safety may include targeted training on topics such as Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards, fire and safety analysis, hazardous materials, toxicology, industrial ergonomics and construction safety. Master's and doctoral degree programs are also available for advanced training; however, graduate degrees are not required for most entry-level positions.

Step 2: Obtain Certification

Certification is voluntary. However, the BLS reports that many employers highly recommend it as a form of professional credentialing. To become certified as a safety professional, you need to meet certification prerequisites and pass an examination. Certification prerequisites vary with each authority and may include specific experience or training. Certification is provided through various trade organizations, such as the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) and the National Association of Safety Professional (NASP).

Step 3: Acquire Employment

As a safety professional, you can work for different types of employers, such as the local, state and federal government agencies; agricultural, chemical, petroleum and coal manufacturers; waste management companies and healthcare facilities. The BLS projected that employment opportunities for occupational health and safety specialists will increase by 4% between 2014 and 2024.

Step 4: Join a Trade Association

By joining a trade association, you gain access to benefits such as industry updates and networking opportunities. The American Society of Safety Engineers, the American Biological Safety Association, the BCSP and the NASP are just a few of the many trade associations that offer membership.

Step 5: Stay Current

Staying current about industry guidelines, protocols and legislation is crucial to your daily work responsibilities. Continuing education may be required for certification renewal. Industry updates and continuing education may be provided through employers, but is also offered through trade associations.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Similar career options are available for those with a bachelor's degree. Occupational safety professionals work with safety technicians, who conduct most of the field work during an investigation, as well as prevent further incidents. Construction and building inspectors are those who ensure that individual buildings are up to the standards of current fire and zoning codes. There are also health and safety engineers, who design and implement new procedures and systems to keep people and buildings as safe as possible.

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