How to Become an Occupational Health & Safety Expert

How to Become an Occupational Health & Safety Expert

Requirements can vary from state to state as regards certification, but most applicants for this position will have a bachelor’s degree with a science major.

A degree is not necessarily a prerequisite, and work experience can be counted towards certification in some states. Keen observation skills are also a great help in this profession.

Those who may be considering this field can start their preparation in high school by concentrating on math and science.

English courses, especially those with an emphasis on writing, will also be a benefit as coherent reports will have to be prepared for each site visited.

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)

If you want to become an occupational health and safety expert, you must get a bachelor's degree in a science major.

Something like geology, environmental science, engineering, and biology are good options and can give you the foundation you need to pass the OHSE certification exam.

As long as you have a science heavy major and can pass the certification test, you can become an occupational health and safety expert.

Coursework includes safety and health standards, health hazard identification, industrial hygiene, occupational safety and hazardous materials and waste management.

Other than that, the curriculum can be many things as there are many majors you can pick.

2. Complete On-The-Job Training

A significant amount of on-the-job training is needed to learn the inspection procedures and applicable laws of various work environments.

Since occupational health and safety specialists can work in numerous settings, the training they receive will be specific to the environment that they work in. For example, a specialist who works in a manufacturing facility will likely require different training from a specialist who works in an office environment.

Training typically occurs under the supervision of an experienced professional and may take up to one year to complete.

3. Earn the Required Certification

While certification is voluntary for Occupational Health and Safety Experts, many employers prefer candidates who have obtained certification.

One can become certified through a variety of organizations, including the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH) and the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP).

Through the ABIH a specialist can become a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH). The Certified Safety Professional (CSP) credential is offered by the BCSP. To achieve these certifications, one must meet requirements regarding education, coursework and years of experience and pass an exam.

4. Maintain Certification Through Continuing Education

To maintain the CSP certification, you have to pay an annual fee and complete 25 recertification credits every 5 years.

You can gain recertification credits by completing a variety of activities, such as joining safety organizations, performing voluntary professional service, presenting at conferences and writing exam questions.

To maintain the CIH certification, you have to pay the fee, practice ethical behavior and submit a certificate maintenance worksheet or pass an exam.

5. Consider Earning a Master's Degree (Optional)

While a bachelor's degree is sufficient for many jobs within this field, a master's degree in industrial hygiene or health physics may be needed for some positions.

An industrial hygiene master's you will learn a variety of areas, including environmental sampling and analysis, chemical hazards evaluation and airborne contaminants exposure control.

Radiation detection, radiochemistry and radiobiology are a few topics that are included in health physics master's programs.