How to Become a Certified Safety Professional: The Steps Explained

Businesses lose more than 100,000,000 production days because of workplace injuries. That means there is an increased demand for safety professionals.

If you’re looking for a career that pays well, offers advancement, and is rewarding, a career as a safety professional may be the one for you.

What does it take to become a certified safety professional and start your career? Keep reading to learn the steps to begin your career in safety.

Understand the Role of a Safety Professional

A job as a safety professional may seem appealing for a variety of reasons, but do you know what your role would be in an organization? Do you know what the day-to-day job looks like?

In your job as a safety professional, you serve three important stakeholders.

You serve the employees by keeping them safe. You serve the employers by helping them limit their liabilities. You also serve the community by protecting them from environmental and other hazards.

Each day may be different from the day before. One day, you’re training new hires on safety standards at the workplace. The next day, you’re filing an incident report.

You may perform a detailed safety audit and review policies. Your duties also require that you create reports for management to make improvements to safety standards.

Your exact role at a company will depend on the size and industry of the organization. No matter where you land, you can be sure that you have an important role in your company.

Evaluate Your Current Experience

Certified safety professionals come from a wide variety of industries and career paths. Some go to college and study occupational health and safety. Others come from seemingly unrelated fields to become safety professionals.

You do need to look at your skill set to determine if a career in safety is right for you. You have to be able to work well with a broad range of people, from C-suite executives to manufacturing technicians.

Strong written and verbal communication skills are a must. You have to have the ability to analyze workplace situations and distill them into reports that people will understand.

Your attention to detail is going to be important. You simply can’t overlook any possibility that could cause an injury in the workplace or in the community.

You may not have direct workplace safety experience, but you may be able to parlay your previous job experience into your new career as a safety professional. If you can show that you have outstanding communication and presentation skills, you can take the next steps to build your career.

Build Your Network

The moment you realize that you want to take the next step in becoming a certified safety professional, you want to develop a professional network.

This step can help you as you build your career. You can get guidance on the path to certification and get important connections for employment.

How can you start to build your network? Hop online.

LinkedIn is a great place to start. Reach out and connect with other safety professionals. Send them personalized notes to introduce yourself and ask how you can help them. You may have a connection in your network they would like to be introduced to.

Ask your connections to meet over Zoom for brief introductory meetings. Explain where you’re at in your career and if they have any advice to give.

These small steps can help you get your foot in the door to some large organizations and create opportunities.

Another way to build your network is to join a professional organization and attend networking events. That can be difficult to do during a pandemic, but many organizations have shifted to virtual meetings.

You can check out the American Association of Safety Professionals (AASP) to find out more about these events here:

Getting Certified

Do you want the top safety jobs and a high salary? You’ll need to get certified. As you research safety certifications, you’ll find that there are a lot of certifications out there.

Where you are in your safety career and education will dictate which certification is best for you.

For example, if you have less than three years of experience and you don’t have a degree in occupational safety, you’ll want to enroll in an associate’s or bachelor’s degree program.

Once you get your degree, you can obtain the Associate Safety Professional (ASP) designation.

If you already have several years of worker safety experience under your belt and a degree, you can get the Certified Safety Professional (CSP) designation.

Both the ASP and CSP are overseen by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals. You’ll need to pass an exam and meet the experience requirements. 

You should consider taking an exam preparation course before you sit for these challenging exams.

Maintaining Certifications

You do need to take continuing education courses to maintain your certification. You can also further your education by specializing in certain areas of worker safety.

For example, the AASP has specialized certifications such as the Leadership Safety Management Certificate for professionals who aspire to move into management positions.

If you are working with hazardous materials, you can get the Certified Hazardous Materials Manager certification.

These certifications will show to employers that you take your career in workplace safety very seriously. They can also make you a valuable asset in the organization.

Becoming a Certified Safety Professional

There’s no doubt that a career in occupational safety is a rewarding one. You can command the respect of colleagues and a higher salary by becoming a certified safety professional.

This is an important designation that is earned by having a degree and experience in occupational safety. You also have to pass a difficult exam.

Before you take that step, build up your professional network and make sure you have the right skill set to do the job well.

Do you want more career tips? Check out the Business section of this site for more insights.