Are you looking for a way to level-up your safety career? Earning a safety certification is an effective and exciting step toward your future in OHS.
Professional safety certifications show employers that you’re able to provide effective program management, reduce risk, and contribute to a positive safety culture.
The most useful certifications require more than a weekend in a classroom. Often, you need to complete training first. Then, you can choose a program that fits your preferred career path. We take this journey with you below, outlining the most sought-after safety credentials in the United States.
Is a Safety Certification Right for You?
Are you pursuing new job opportunities in safety? Or maybe you are looking to advance your skillset? Safety certifications are a recommend way to improve your skills and progress in your career.
How do you choose from the long list of available safety certifications?
The answer is: it’s personal. Choosing your first certification depends on your:
- career goals
- time available to spend on the certification
- specific requirements from your employer
This flowchart helps you narrow down the options. Here, you can find information about the most common certifications. If you already have the basics, the chart also details about specialized certifications.
Don’t feel the need to limit yourself to one program for your entire career. You’re not limited to your first certification. Instead, get started by working on the most relevant tools. Then, you can keep working on a future goal.
Remember, you can always increase your skills through additional training. In fact, safety certifications are designed this way. Many of these top certifications build on each other. You’ll notice a natural pathway forward as you gain more experience.
These core programs jumpstart your career. Then, you can move to higher levels of management by obtaining additional certifications.
Degree-Based Safety Certifications
Many of today’s safety roles require an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree.
Here is an overview of two safety certifications available through a degree.
Associate Safety Professional (ASP)
For the ASP certification, you need an associate or a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, you need one year of experience. However, you can’t bring in just any experience. Your past work must include a role where you spent at least 50% of your time focusing on safety in the workplace.
You can get ASP certification through the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP).
Graduate Safety Practitioner (GSP)
The Graduate Safety Practitioner certification is for new safety professionals working on a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) certification (above). The GSP program is not an alternate path to the CSP. Instead, it is part of the road towards achieving other certifications.
To qualify, you must accomplish the CSP experience requirement. Then, you must achieve the CSP within six years.
The designation is available through BCSP.
Certified Safety Professional (CSP)
The CSP is another program available through the BCSP.
You can pursue CSP certification after you complete the ASP certification (above). To get started, you need a bachelor’s degree and at least four years of safety experience.
Non-Degree Safety Certifications
Just because you don’t have a degree doesn’t mean you’re locked out of the safety industry. Many safety certifications are available through specialty training and further education courses.
Here are some of the valuable certifications that don’t require a college degree.
Safety Management Specialist (SMS)
Safety Management Specialists (SMS) learn management skills that help with safety operations. As an SMS, your typical responsibilities include:
- risk management
- defining safety management systems
- incident investigation
- emergency preparedness
The SMS certification requires at least ten years of safety management experience. Also, a minimum of 35% of your previous job tasks must fall under safety management.
Certification is available through the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP).
Occupational Hygiene and Safety Technician (OHST)
Does your preferred safety role include safety and occupational hygiene on a part-time or full-time basis? If so, OHST certification could be the right fit for you.
As an OHST safety professional, you will complete worksite assessments. You will evaluate risks, hazards, and controls. When accidents or near misses occur, you will investigate incidents and maintain incident records. Additionally, you will prepare response plans for emergencies.
OHST certification requires three years of experience. Within your experience, 35% of your past duties must have been in safety, health, or environmental work.
Certification is available through BCSP.
Safety Trained Supervisor (STS)
Leaders at all levels of your organization can benefit from the STS certification. Why? Because safety doesn’t have to be your primary responsibility to be part of your job. All staff members need to know about workplace safety practices.
Before you start the STS program, you must have 30 hours of safety, health, and environmental training. The STS program also requires two years of supervisory experience.
If you aren’t yet at the supervisor level, an alternative is four years of work experience in any industry, with a minimum part-time hourly requirement.
Certification is available through BCSP.
Certified Safety Manager (CSM)
The Certified Safety Manager (CSM) certification focuses on proper safety training. During this program, you gain the tools you need to implement appropriate safety programs. A CSM learns how to:
- interpret industry regulations
- decrease the risk of liability
- improve team morale
- reduce workplace injuries
You don’t need qualifications to complete the certification. However, workplace experience is beneficial.
Certification is available through the National Association of Safety Professionals (NASP).
Certified Safety Manager Construction (CSMC)
The CSMC certification is specifically for safety professionals overseeing construction projects and sites.
The program has no requirements to start, but having experience is helpful.
Certification is available through NASP.
Certified Safety Director (CSD)
The Certified Safety Director certification is one of the safety industry’s highest programs. A CSD has the skills and knowledge necessary to develop and manage a corporate-wide or facility-wide safety program.
You don’t need previous qualifications for certification. However, you should complete the CSM before you begin the CSD certification.
This program is available through NASP.
Licensed Safety Professional (LSP)
The highest designation through the National Association of Safety Professionals (NASP) is the Licensed Safety Professional. The LSP certification indicates an ability to develop and implement a full safety program. Your responsibilities include the supervision of other employees and managers.
You don’t need qualifications for this certification. However, you should complete the CSM certification first.
Specialized Safety Certifications
Some industries and job positions require specialized certifications. These programs cater to specific categories of risks and hazards.
Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM)
This safety program is necessary for compliance with industry regulations and laws. You learn useful strategies for the safety of hazardous materials.
To be eligible for CHMM, you first need a bachelor’s degree. You also need a minimum of four years of experience with hazardous materials management.
The CHMM certification is available through the Institute of Hazardous Materials Management (IHMM).
Certified Safety and Health Manager (CSHM)
The CSHM certification provides a working knowledge of workplace safety. It also focuses on the business management side of mitigating risk. Skills gained through the program include:
- accident investigation
- hazard analysis
- labor relationships
- environmental laws
- product safety
- workers’ compensation
The CSHM certification requires a bachelor’s degree and at least five years of experience.
Certification is available through IHMM.
Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH)
The CIH certification is about preventing illnesses and injuries. This program focuses on biological, chemical, physical, and ergonomic hazards.
To start a CIH program, you first need a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, you need at least four years of experience in industrial hygiene.
Certification is through the American Board of Industrial Hygiene.
Construction Health and Safety Technician (CHST)
The Construction Health and Safety Technician (CHST) program is a good option if you work in construction. The program focuses on health and safety for both part-time and full-time crew members.
The CHST certification can be a stepping stone to other safety roles, such as the Certified Safety Professional (CSP) certification.
You must have a minimum of three years of construction experience. At least 35% of your primary job duties must involve safety and health.
Certification is through BCSP.
Safety Trained Supervisor Construction (STSC)
All crew members are responsible for creating and maintaining a safe work environment. However, not everyone needs an intensive specialist certification. STSC certification fills the role of general education. It’s available for all employees and managers. This certification is helpful to have, even if safety isn’t your primary duty.
If you want to apply, you need 30 hours of safety, health, and environmental training. The STSC program also requires two years of supervisory experience. Or, you can have four years of work experience in any industry. The program also has a minimum part-time hourly work requirement.
Certification is available through BCSP.
Certified Instructional Trainer (CIT)
If you have a CIT certification, you can become a manager, technician, director, or supervisor.
The typical CIT candidate has experience in the design and development of health and safety systems. Certification requires 135 hours of teaching, training, or development. Your experience can be in any safety, health, or environmental specialty.
No work experience is required.
This certification is available through BCSP.
Certified Healthcare Safety Professional (CHSP)
The CHSP certification is a premier safety credential designed for healthcare safety professionals. The program focuses on compliance, organizational performance, and human safety.
CHSP requires eight years of relevant experience to apply. Or, you can have two years of relevant experience combined with a college education.
Certification is available through the International Board of Certification of Safety Managers.
The Benefits of a Safety Certification
Is it worth the time and money to pursue safety certifications? The answer is almost always yes. In some instances, employers require these programs for employment. For example, you almost always need certification in high-risk employment environments. All staff members need to have proper safety training.
Other times, the programs are a bonus to help you stand out among other applicants. Holding one or more safety certifications protects you in the workplace. This qualification can help you create a safer environment for other employees.
A range of benefits is available when these certifications are complete.
Credibility as a Safety Leader
Holding professional certifications means you’ve completed the necessary education. At the same time, you show employers you have qualifications and experience in the field. Do you want to hold a leadership position in the company? It is essential to have safety certifications to back up your experience.
A study by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals shows how these programs impact salaries. Full-time professionals with at least one certification earn about $20,000 more each year compared to employees without certifications.
Do you want to climb the corporate ladder? Holding the right certification puts you in a stronger position. You can advance your career through promotions. Completing this certification can be an excellent investment. Often, certifications increase the likelihood of a job offer. You have an advantage compared to other non-certified candidates with similar experience.
Stay Informed About Safety Advancements
One way to maintain your safety certification is by meeting continuing education requirements. These hours keep you up-to-date in the industry. You know the latest regulations, standards, trends, laws, and best practices.
Keeping Costs Down
Companies are always looking for ways to keep costs down. This is why it is important to have certified safety professionals. You can save money by minimizing risks and protecting employees. The savings add up over time. You will reduce costs through lower workers’ compensation expenses reduced risk of lost productivity because of injury.
Safety Certifications Make Better Safety Professionals
Employers like to see safety certifications on a candidate’s resume. When a potential employee completes the certification requirements, it communicates their commitment to safety and risk management. You show employers and regulatory agencies your skills for managing the safety of yourself and others.
Overall, professional safety certifications are an excellent investment. Everyone benefits from improved knowledge and skills, and you enjoy increased job opportunities.