Everything You Need to Pass the ASP® Safety Certification Exam

Seeking out a safety manager certification is how many of the best safety professionals level up their careers. And more and more, safety professionals aim to become a Certified Safety Professional (CSP)®. The Associate Safety Professional (ASP)® exam is a common first stop on the journey to becoming a Certified Safety Professional (CSP)®.

For many people, the ASP® exam is the first big exam you’ve taken since college. While it is a massive undertaking, you can absolutely pass it — the first time — with the right game plan.

How hard is the ASP® exam? I’ll walk you through how to pass the ASP® certification exam, based on my own experience as a holder of the CSP® safety designation.

What You Need to Become an Associate Safety Professional

The BCSP, Board of Certified Safety Professionals, manages the ASP® certification (as well as the CSP®, SMS®, STS®, and STSC® safety certifications). 

Becoming an ASP® means passing the BCSP-provided exam. However, you first need to qualify to sit for the exam. The current minimum requirements include:

  • A Bachelor’s degree in any field: For the associate degree, you must have either 12 hours of learning or 18 quarters of study in the health, environment, and safety domains.
  • A minimum of 1 year of EHS experience where 50% of your work is attributed to the preventative and professional level of safety.
  • Passing the ASP® exam with a score of at least 61%
  • Meeting all recertification requirements

If you are a non-US person, you will have to verify your non-US degrees to determine U.S. equivalency. You can visit the BSCP documentation page to search for your particular country.

Why Become an ASP®?

The ASP® is the first step to one of the best safety certifications for advancing your career (CSP®). In your day-to-day life, you’ll feel more confident, in part because you know a lot more about safety due to all the work that goes into the safety certification. Plus, recertification forces you to sharpen your skills on a regular basis through CE.

Although I did not take the ASP® examination (I went the GSP® route), the exact same principles and strategies for preparing can be utilized. This experience brought all the knowledge and learning that I have gained through traditional education and learned practices in the professional setting and assimilated it.  Holistic safety knowledge empowers leadership and decision-making skills, which are some of the most important skills you can have as a safety pro.

Generally, individuals with BCSP safety designations have higher chances of getting hired with high-paying salaries. Also, they are positioned to receive more promotions and leadership assignments than those without the certification. 

How Much Did ASPs Earn in 2020?

According to the 2020 salary survey results of BCSP and NSC, the intermediate salary was $98,000 for professionals with at least one safety certification (CSP® or ASP® and others). This is $20,000 more than those without any certifications. 

Also, the Certified Safety Professional® (CSP) certification (your next stop after the ASP®) provides an additional $30,000 to the salary of a practitioner that has no other credential. 

What could you earn? Calculate your potential with the BCSP SH&E Industry Survey and calculator.

A Mini Guide to ASP® Exam Prep

The ASP® Exam is 200 questions across seven domains. And you have just five hours to get it done. There’s no doubt it’s tough. But it’s possible with the right game plan. 

Before we dive into what a good study strategy looks like, I want to start with this piece of advice. The ASP® exam is not designed for perfect scores. You’re not going to get all the questions right. So, leave the idea of perfection behind, work hard, and good things will come. 

ASP® Exam SubjectsPercentage of Total Questions
Training, Education, and Communication9%
Mathematics18%
Environmental Management15%
Safety Management Systems23%
Occupational Health11%
Fire Prevention and Protection11%
Ergonomics13%
The distribution of questions on the ASP® safety certification exam

What Materials Should You Use for ASP® Exam Prep?

There are a lot of ways to study for the ASP® exam and none of them are wrong. You can choose from:

  • Reading study books and guides
  • Using BCSP study apps
  • Attending workshops and lectures
  • Registering for three-day prep courses

You’ll find a list of the BCSP’s best safety certification study resources here.

Don’t feel limited to traditional study methods. Some of the other ways to help you pass your ASP exam the first time include:

  • Making a study plan based on BCSP self-assessments before investing in any materials
  • Joining an online study group
  • Watching YouTube videos
  • Brushing up on your technical skills, like calculator skills, metric scale conversions and electrical details and formulas. (Most of your formulas are provided, so the big focus should be on your calculator skills.)

Books

Where do you start? In my opinion, there are two “must-have books”. The first one is David Yates’s “Safety Professional’s Reference and Study Guide.” This book will be the most useful in your arsenal. It covers almost all the topics mentioned in the BCSP blueprint. You can get it for $100 on Amazon. 

The second book is “Safety and Health for Engineers” by Roger Brauer. It’s a deep dive. Although you can pass the test without reading this book, I certainly recommend it.

Once you’ve made your way through the books mentioned above, you can purchase the SPAN books to assess your knowledge. The two books combined have different sections with 600 to 700 practice test questions.

Apps

Pocket Prep is a mobile app that you can access via a web link. The app will explain each question you find in Yates’s book, including the page number. It allows you to see answers, get explanations on the go, and track your study progress with exam results.

Workshops 

If you find out that studying alone is not that helpful for you, you can decide to take some workshops or video lectures/courses like Bowes EHS, SPAN in-person workshop, or ASSE

Practice Tests

Practice tests will work wonders, so be sure to build them into your study plan. As I mentioned earlier, build your study plan around your competencies and weaknesses and adjust, based on your practice exam scores.

You got this!

ASP® Exam Day Tips

You have five hours to complete 200 questions on the ASP® exam. So, it’s safe to say you need to go in with a strategy.

Some of my best tips for the night before and morning of the exam include:

  • Use the day before the exam to relax and do something else. You’re not going to learn the exam in a day, so don’t tire yourself out by cramming.
  • Get plenty of sleep, even though it’s hard. Make sure your sleep hygiene is good: put your phone in another room, use an eye mask to block out light, and start winding down for bed an hour before you want to go to sleep.
  • Eat breakfast and stay hydrated. These seem basic, but they can be hard to accomplish when you’re staring down the barrel of a 200 question exam. Build them into your schedule so you don’t show up hungry or with a headache.

Let’s move onto the exam itself. The tips that helped me pass my CSP® safety certification exam include:

  • Rely on your knowledge and intuition. The answers are multiple choice, and they’re designed to be a little unclear. You studied hard and have experience in the field, make the choice you’d make if you were at work.
  • Answer the non-calculator questions first. Save these questions for the end and then go back and work your way through them. It will stop you from obsessing over an answer and finding yourself stressed out for the rest of the exam.
  • Save the toughest questions for the end. If you run into a question that makes your mind melt, don’t answer it. Move on and return to it at the end of the exam.

Your ASP® Safety Certification is Within Your Reach

Passing your ASP® exam will open up doors in your career. It’s not just a safety certification: becoming an ASP® will help you assimilate all your technical knowledge, gain a competitive edge in the job market, and act with confidence at work.

Good luck with your ASP® exam. Team Safesite knows you got this!

Craig Nunnelley

By Craig Nunnelley

Craig Nunnelley, CSP has been in the Safety and Health Field for 10 years. After gaining a degree in Occupational Safety and Health from Murray State University, he began a role as a Safety Coordinator in the automotive industry. For the last 7 years Craig has been a Risk Control Consultant for a regional workers compensation carrier and a large multinational, multi-line carrier. These experiences have allowed him to help the workforce become a safer place to work, help businesses prevent claims and become motivated to leverage technology to accomplish both of these.

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