The most basic definition of a safety professional is an individual who looks after the safety of other people in a work environment. A career in the field of safety can be both fulfilling and lucrative.
On a normal workday, you can expect to use your knowledge and skills to prevent an incident that might lead to injury or illness of a fellow employee. In practice, the duties of a safety professional can vary broadly from industry to industry and between organizations.
One of the key functions of a safety professional is to device health and safety policies and see to it that both the employer and his/her employees adhere to them.
In most cases, different industries will require different qualifications from candidates applying for safety officer positions. The best way to ensure you pursue the appropriate specialty is to make a decision on which industry you want to work in prior to starting your studies.
You can consult potential employers and relevant bodies to find out what their recommendations, as well as requirements, are. In most cases, a bachelor’s degree in health, environmental, and safety studies or any other closely related qualification should suffice.
Essential Skills and Characteristics
The level of skills you need to qualify as a safety professional will depend on the particular organization. Some companies, especially those involved in high-risk activities such as construction or mining tend to set the academic qualifications as well as other skills a notch higher.
However, there is a set of general skills and characteristics every potential employer will be looking for. These include:
- The physical ability to effectively perform your duties.
- A Sense of Accountability.
- Attention to detail and stellar observation skills.
- Problem-solving skills and critical thinking.
- Strong verbal and written communication skills.
There are many different professional courses you can take to join the field of safety as a career, but this is contingent on what you are looking for. Taking short introductory courses and advancing gradually can be a good idea, but that depends on your personal situation.
There are over 300 titles and certifications in the field of health, environment, and safety in the United States. The rise in the number of certifications raises the question of quality among program users and potential buyers.
Government employees and other organizations use accreditation to hire employees and give contracts, which stresses the importance of certification in this field. You shouldn’t expect to have a successful safety professional career if you don’t carry the relevant certification.
In the United States, accreditation is conducted by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP). The board administers examinations where applicable and awards accreditation.
Certification means that you have been evaluated against the standards. These standards include the skill and knowledge demonstrated through examinations, experience as well as minimum academic qualifications.
It’s not easy to secure employment without professional experience in any field. Safety is no different. Many employers require candidates to have at least 1-3 years of professional work experience for consideration. Completing an internship program can boost your experience and increase your chances of landing a job in the field of safety.