If you’re a safety professional, you probably already know that having the proper certifications is a must. But beyond just being a requirement to be on a work site, earning additional certifications can help you advance your career in safety as well.
Here’s a guide to the various safety certifications available whether you’re just getting involved in site safety or looking to level up as a safety professional.
If you’re an entry-level construction worker working on a construction site, you need to be certified in basic safety protocols and learn how to avoid safety hazards on the job. In most cases, it’s a state requirement, as well as an employer requirement.
Getting this certification means you completed a 10-hour training course. In addition to all construction workers, even some roles in general industry may require this certification.
If you’re seeking to work as a site safety coordinator or an assistant to a head safety person, the following certifications are for you. Once you have them under your belt, you’ll be qualified to walk around and make sure everyone is abiding by safety regulations, and coach those who need some guidance.
OSHA 30 is for people in supervisory roles who are responsible for site safety and keeping others safe in general. OSHA 30 requires 30 hours of coursework, going more in-depth with industry-focused training.
If you’re interested in slightly more advanced safety work, such as dealing with hazardous materials, toxicology, or decontamination procedures (think a nuclear or chemical plant), the OSHA 40 certification is required.
Safety Trainer or Managerial Positions
After you’ve had three or more years in the field, you may want to move up to a higher level of safety professional. In that case, you’ll need to pursue one of the following advanced certifications. We recommend being proactive in seeking out these certifications on your own as opposed to waiting for your employer to suggest it, as many such advanced positions are contract roles.
OSHA 510 or CHST (Construction Health and Safety Technician)
Getting this certification is similar to earning an associate degree. It requires more involved class work, and you should expect rigorous studying in preparation of the test. Once you do, you’ll be allowed you to teach OSHA 10, 30, and 40 courses, or lead on-site training classes and certify others. In addition, you can qualify to be a site safety coordinator or manager.
OSHA 500 or BCSP (Board of Certified Safety Professionals)
To take this next level certification, you’ll have to have the OSHA 510 as a prerequisite, and five plus years of safety-related job experience. To pass, it’s recommended that you take a class since the certification has a lot of material. Once certified, you can become a safety manager or consultant.
ASP (Associate Safety Professional)
This certification is not as widely used but can be a good one to have if you’re going into more of an engineering role. The exam focuses more on analytical and technical content.
If you’re someone who wants to create safety reports, perform safety audits, and write safety protocols for projects, having a certificate is a good start. However, you may also consider working toward a master’s degree in OSHA. That said, field experience may be acceptable in lieu of a degree depending on the project or employer.
How Certifications Can Fuel Your Career Growth
Pairing your level of experience with the appropriate level of certification can help ensure that you’ll have an easier time getting through the coursework and passing exams since the topics are fresh in your mind.
As you progress, you should choose an industry that motivates you and that you like to work in and focus on getting more experience. Then again, some safety professionals like to diversify in case job opportunities slow down in one industry. Some fields are related allowing you to transfer your skills if you decide to move, such as from electrical to renewable energy. With newer types of construction work, you may be able to transfer your skills to data centers as well.
Getting the right certifications throughout your career journey can help open doors to new opportunities. If you’re not sure which one to pursue, ask around. There may be specific certifications that are standard in certain industries, but less necessary in others. The key is to always keep learning and improving your knowledge and credentials.
by Jeremy Nelson, Director of Business Development at Planet Forward
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