The health and safety industry is serious business, and it’s one that's stretched far and wide across a multitude of different sectors such as production, manufacturing, construction, and health services.
In many cases, it’s a requirement to hold the requisite safety certifications in order to work in one of these fields in a health and safety capacity. But becoming certified often involves more than just sitting for a test and waiting for your results. There’s even a certifying agency called the Board of Certified Safety Professionals or BCSP which manages the credentialing process for safety professionals.
Here’s what you need to know about the entire process.
One Size Does Not Fit All
Becoming certified as a safety professional isn’t necessarily straightforward. That’s because there are a number of different certifications, each of which has its own requirements. There are as many certifications are there are roles to fill in the safety industry, ranging from ones that are appropriate for management or supervisory duties, as well as those for positions that focus on hygiene or construction.
Educational and Work Requirements
Once you’ve identified the safety certifications you need, you’ll also have to ensure you meet their educational and work experience requirements. You won’t be able to sit for the certification exam without meeting these requirements. They will differ depending on the credential but many will require at least a bachelor’s degree and a minimum number of years working in the health and safety field.
Earning Your Certification
Once you’ve met the requirements for your certification, the next step is to pay the fee necessary to take the exam. While it’s certainly not a requirement, it is always recommended to invest in a test prep course to learn the format of your particular certification exam. Considering the resources you have to devote to simply taking the test in the first place, ensuring you’re well-practiced before actually sitting down for it is in your best interests. The best way to prepare for any of the certification exams is to attend an exam preparation course. You can find these prep courses through the BCSP’s website.
After You’ve Become Certified
Passing your certification exam is just the first step. Yes, you’re now a credentialed safety professional but the majority of safety certifications require you to maintain them in good standing. Keeping your certification active will typically require you to earn credits or points by completing certain activities as well as paying an annual fee.
It’s also standard to have to recertify after a set period of time, usually five years, to ensure you remain current with new developments and best practices in your chosen field. There are a number of ways, such as attending conferences, publishing articles, or taking additional safety courses, to work toward earning this recertification.
Certifications Lead to Job Growth
While the time, energy, and resource requirements for becoming safety certified are many, the benefits are manifold. As many professional safety jobs will require you to become credentialed in one or more of these certifications, especially if you want to progress up the ladder of your chosen career path, investing in safety certifications can pave the way for job growth. This, in turn, might require you to earn ever more complex certifications, but that just goes with the territory.