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For safety managers working in manufacturing, intensive schooling, training and certification can lead to a robust career and salary—and help improve a business’s bottom line.

Whether it’s workplace falls, exposure to toxic chemicals or electrocution, or merely a nick or bruise, each day that employees clock in—in manufacturing especially—brings with it potential dangers. And it’s the job of safety managers to help keep those hours on the clock as harm-free as possible for a company’s employees.

A fundamental way that manufacturers large and small drive up safety is through having well-trained safety teams. Given this, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects safety careers will continue to grow over the next decade.

With so many hazards present for U.S. industrial workers, it’s no wonder that workplace safety has emerged as a top field. The National Bureau of Labor Statistics cited 4,836 workplace fatalities in 2015, a slight increase from the year prior. Plus, there’s a bottom-line factor: Occupational injuries and illnesses cost U.S. businesses $170 billion per year.

“Safety certifications for employees provide companies with consistency in training and work practices, increased confidence from customers, staff adherence to ethical standards, differentiation in marketing, and a standard for projects, promotions, salary increases and career road maps,” says David McPeak, director of career development at Pike Enterprises, in an article for Incident Prevention. “Like an individual, the more certifications a company possesses, the better it looks on paper.”

How Certifications Impact Safety Professionals

Whether it’s a manager, director, associate or specialist position, each role comes with its own set of requirements and certifications­­. These certifications legitimize safety expertise, boost salary and expand knowledge.

“Degrees and certifications equal money and open doors to a more rewarding and higher-paying future,” McPeak says. “The average CSP [certified safety professional] earns about $17,000 more per year than peers without certification. That translates to $300,000 or more over the course of a career in safety. A related benefit is members-only access to job boards, training resources, discussion groups and networking opportunities. Less tangible is the personal satisfaction gained from certification along with demonstrated professional development and eagerness to learn.”

Here, we outline the educational and work experience journey required to master two of safety’s top fields: safety leadership and industrial hygiene.

How to Become a Certified Safety Professional

Whether through a bachelor’s or master’s degree in safety, learning via assignment, entering the field in a leadership role or simply harnessing a deeper understanding of safety through work experience, as the Board of Certified Safety Professionals emphasizes, there are numerous ways to become a safety professional.

Although learning on the job is fairly common, the most widely accepted career path in safety involves becoming a CSP in your unique industry and practice.

Here’s a brief list of the most popular safety certifications:

All of these certifications listed require different levels of schooling, work experience and prior certifications.

For example, the Associate Safety Professional certification requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree or an associate degree in safety, health or the environment; at least one year of safety experience (50 percent of that preventive); and passing an exam. For the Certified Environmental, Safety and Health Trainer certification, a person must acquire 14 safety-based credentials before even qualifying. Understanding the targeted field of employment and the applicable level of experience and education are crucial in choosing the correct path to certification.

The salary for a CSP is highly dependent on experience and title. An environmental health and safety director earns roughly $115,595 annually, while a safety officer typically earns considerably less, at an average of $56,122 a year.

“Degrees and certifications equal money and open doors to a more rewarding and higher-paying future.”
David McPeak
Director of Career Development at Pike Enterprises

How to Become an Industrial Hygienist

Although safety leadership is an all-encompassing position—watching over most facets of a company’s overall health—the industrial hygiene field has a more scientific and engineering focus.

As Environmental Science details, industrial hygienists cover a wide range of safety oversight, from procedures for handling hazardous materials to ventilation systems and employees’ personal protective equipment. Above all, industrial hygienists aim to anticipate and recognize problems before they become dangerous or deadly. The median salary for a certified industrial hygienist hovers at $89,000 annually.

Although certifications to become a safety professional depend on experience and industry-specific demands, the certifications associated with industrial hygiene are fairly straightforward.

Administered by the American Board of Industrial Hygiene, the certification consists of an exam. Those taking the test must also meet a checklist of education and work requirements, including a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college with ample course credits in science, technology, engineering and math. Additionally, anyone seeking certification must first complete four years of industrial hygiene apprentice work.

Beyond eligibility, an individual must prepare for the exam, which might include computer-based review courses.

How does your company balance work against training? Share your experience in the comments below.

Talk to Us!

Hello looking to transition fully over into safety, need guidance and a clear path.

Jim Hall

601-847-3605

   

Hi Jim,

Can you share more details with us at BetterMRO@mscdirect.com? We can then have someone reach out to you.

Thank you,
Better MRO Team

   

Can someone please contact me to discuss the sequence of certifications?
Thank you

   

Hi Renee, You can post your specific question about Safety certifications in the Safety Forum, and one of our Safety Specialists will get back to you. Here is the link: https://www.mscdirect.com/betterMRO/forums/forums/ask-msc-safety-special...

   

 Hello,

What are the relevant Certifications to becoming an industrial hygienist in the United State for an international applicant? Thanks.

   

 I'm a junior in high school and interested in a career and safety management potentially industrial hygiene as well. I am wondering what type of courses in college I need to take or colleges with a program in place

1  

i have a bachelors degree in safety and 3 years in general industry and 2 years in construction expierience i want to move up what certificates and training will help

1  

I have a bachelor's degree in history with a minor in chemistry. I have 9 years of experience performing waste characterization for the department of energy as a lab technician. I am HAZWOPER and Radiological Worker II certified. Will this work experience be enough to qualifiy for the ASP?

   

To ensure you will be prepared to pass the ASP exam, we'd recommend you take a live virtual or online, self-paced training offered by ASSP. You can learn more about the options here:

https://www.assp.org/education/certification-preparation/asp

Good luck! 

   

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