Guest Blog Author: Allyson Clark ASP
For starters, I want to say that this list encompasses 10 career wise EHS certificates that are in demand by a wide range of employers. If you are looking for advancement in your EHS career pathway and you are seeking to be more diverse in choosing your industry, certificates are often a go-to mechanism for HR recruiters. It allows them to distinguish high performance candidates from the competitive crowd so, pursuing one can be beneficial to your career. Certificates also promote an idea that you are an individual that is growing professionally and that you want to be leader in your industry.
Of course this list is not all encompassing and there are additional certificates that may be geared toward a specialty area of an EHS field, or are regionally focused, however this list is short guide to choosing a certificate that is in demand for a wide variety of industries. Also I just want to say that I did not rank these in any order, only because I find that industries and regions had specific preferences for one certificate or another.
“If you are looking for advancement in your EHS career, certificates are the go-to mechanism for distinguishing yourself as a professional ready to grow.”
In the paragraphs that follow I will review the applicability and attributes of some of the most recognizable EHS certifications available to qualified professionals in our field.
- Certified Safety Professional (CSP), and its precursor the Associate Safety Professional (ASP)
– administered by Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP)
Obtaining the CSP is not as easy as just taking an exam, however it may lead you to a 6 figure income. Four years of professional safety experience is required, a bachelor’s degree, or an Associate’s in Safety related field, and you must have professional level of safety duties and one of the following credentials: ASP, CIH, CMIOSH, CRSP, GSP, SISO, MISPN – and then you allowed to sit for an exam that covers an expansive compliance of industrial hygiene, physics, sociology of safety, toxicology, chemical management, ergonomics and safety engineering.
The ASP is one of the many precursors required to sit for the CSP, considered more math intensive than the CSP. To sit for the ASP, you must a hold at least a bachelor’s degree, or an Associate’s in Safety related field, and have completed at least 1-year of safety experience where safety is at least 50%, preventative, professional level of safety duties.
This certification is becoming more popular with environmental health and safety consultants, chemical manufactures, textile distributors, construction, energy and utility sectors – any field where OSHA compliance can be a significant duty. Typically geared toward the professional that may file OSHA 300 logs for reporting workers’ injuries, provide safety training, conduct auditing and investigations, and implement industrial hygiene programs. It is also a certification that focuses on maintaining environmental management systems – like ISO 14001.
- Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM)
– administered by the Institute of Hazardous Materials Management (IHMM)
If your company is a small quantity generator or a large one, meaning materials are being disposed or transported, a CHMM can be an ideal certificate. The CHMM is professional designation for handling hazardous materials identification, planning and preparing for and responding to hazmat emergencies and incidents, sampling of air, water, soil and waste for potential contaminants, site investigations and remediation and hazmat program and project management.
Becoming a CHMM is not easy though, but your career may be financially rewarded by becoming one. A CHMM certification requires a bachelor’s degree, and a minimum of four years of relevant experience in the field of hazardous material management or a related field. Out of the 10 EHS certificate examples in this list, this certificate I would rank as the most versatile to a variety of business sectors.
- Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH)
– administered by the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABiH)
Definitely more of a timelier endeavor, CIH – requires a four-year degree within a science discipline, specific industrial hygiene course work and professional industrial hygiene course work. However, according ABIH website, a median salary for a CIH is $105,000. Industrial Hygienists generally evaluate a wide variety of health and safety stressors that can effect employees. They work in a variety of industries and many are contracted out to investigate, recognize anticipate, evaluate risks and control for hazards within the workplace or with processes.
- Registered Environmental Health Specialist/ Registered Sanitation (REHS/RS)
– administered by the National Environmental Health Association
The REHS/RS certificate is generally geared toward career pathway in public health and has more of a concentration in the food safety and manufacturing sector. This certification is generally applicable to food protection, wastewater, solid and hazardous waste, potable water, vectors and pests, institutions and swimming pool inspections. Although one of down-side with this certificate is that some states require an REHS certification that is curtailed to that state’s program, so thoroughly pursue looking into whether this certificate can be utilized in your state or if licensing is required.
- Certified Safety Health Manager (CSHM)
– administered by the Institute of Safety and Health Management
Though the requirements are similar to an ASP, the CSHM actually can carry more weight depending on your industry. Generally, the CSHM requires bachelor’s degree with an environmental health and safety background and at least 1 year of full time professional safety and health management experience, or 2 years of at least 50% of your duties being safety and health management related activities.
I will say that when I was looking at EHS careers nationally, the CSHM seemed to be associated with higher level senior EHS positions, such as directors or senior regional manager positions. Additionally, this is a certificate that geared toward higher earning EHS professionals. CSHM generally work on a wide variety of environmental health and safety initiatives and the certificate is private industry focused.
- Occupational Health and Safety Technologist (OHST)
– administered by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP)
A professional OSHT designation is certificate geared toward individuals that perform occupational health and safety activities. Typically, the industries seeking these certifications are construction, aviation, large event entertainment contractors, chemical and risk consulting and process specific industries, but not limited to these areas. This designation may be seen as a loss control specialist, and they may perform job site assessments, risk determinations, incident investigations, identify hazards, evaluate risks and may maintain OSHA 300 logs. This is one of the more sought after certificates to have by many industries.
- Certified Health Physicist (CHP)
– administered by American Board of Health Physics (ABHP)
A CHP certificate is definitely one of hardest certificates to earn on this list. However, a CHP certificate has its value in the EHS field because it generally a certificate that is geared toward industries that specialize in radiation, pharmaceuticals, explosives, technology and the medical sector. Although this certificate has higher earning potential, it is definitely more of a niche market for an EHS professional.
- OSHA Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) Leader
– administered by various training companies
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires manufacturing facilities that work with dangerous chemicals to perform routine process hazard analyses (PHA) and typically an OSHA PHA leader is the person that implements these programs. Typical functions include evaluating risks and hazards by performing either a What-If analyses, What-If/Checklist, HAZOP, and Failure Mode and Effects Analysis. This certification can be sought online through various training administrators as long as it conforms to OSHA’s standard 29 CFR 1910.119 and is a common certificate for refineries and chemical manufacturing.
- OSHA 30 certification- Construction safety, General Industry, Maritime, Disaster Site Worker
-administered by various training companies
While the OSHA 10 hour is generally intended for workers, the OSHA 30-hour certificate is considered more appropriate for supervisors who need to recognize, avoid, abate or prevent health and safety hazards in the workplace. The OSHA 30-hour certificate has specific requirements for each certificate program within the construction safety, general industry, maritime and disaster site worker fields. This certificate is typically sought after by mechanic or field crew leads within solar, telecommunication, or energy sectors.
- Certified Professional Environmental Auditor (CPEA)
– administered by the Institute of Internal Auditors
The CPEA is a professional certificate that is intended for professionals conducting environmental compliance and risk audits. It’s definitely a time worthy investment and will pay off if you enjoy auditing. The CPEA designation is fully accredited by the Council on Engineering and Scientific Specialty Boards (CESB) and one of the main components is product stewardship. This certification is geared toward being a lead auditor for larger facilities or distributors as within the chemical process industry, utilities, and the transportation sector.
In general, a CPEA will assess compliance with safety-related laws and regulations, and have a thorough understanding of EHS standards related to auditing procedures, processes and auditing techniques related to EHS management and technical aspects of business activities including facility operations.
These days when you are applying for a job, your first manual step in getting in the door is controlled by a computer. Digitally you are more competitive to recruiters if you are meeting the certification buzz words. While the countless hours of exam preparation are a far cry from being just a buzz word, the HR recruiter who is not an industry professional is going to select based on the buzz word match of the job description – and the certification sticks out competitively.
Moreover, going after a certification can promote your own sustainability within the EHS field. While being in the EHS field I can’t help but notice how much it is constantly changing- from new regulations, to new administration, to recessions and up-swings- the EHS field is going to continue to expand. While these cycles of change re-shape our respective industries, what’s important to remember is it’s out of our control. However, your personal development and your continued commitment to expand your potential by becoming certified – is not!
About Allyson Clark
I am an energetic, dedicated Environmental Health and Safety Professional that thrives on being exceptional. I enjoy promoting worker’s safety, developing common sense solutions to environmental compliance, and finding out of the box solutions for meeting complex EHS compliance. I recently attained my Associate Safety Professional certification and I am looking forward to attaining additional EHS certifications.
Guest Bloggers on LeadingEHS.com
From time to time I find other professionals whom I believe have something important to say. I like to offer them a forum to make their point and hopefully spark some healthy debate. It also offers my readers some variety of style and opinion. I don’t have any formal criteria for selecting Guest Bloggers. The selection is usually made during a scintillating conversation between me and another person that leads me to think: that would be a great blog post!
Is it possible to proceed in the Environmental, Health and Safety field without a college degree? I have seven years of hands on safety and compliance experience in a supervisory capacity at a leading bio tech firm in Souh San Francisco and there’s a college requirement for every certification that’s listed here.
Thanks for reading Bobby! Yes, you can still be successful in the EHS profession without a college degree. You will need to adjust your strategy though. First let me say, a college degree would be a great benefit to you in this profession. To be honest, the lack of it does create a headwind for your hiring, retention and promotion. Have you considered a reputable on-line program like Columbia Southern? Back to your current situation, you actually can earn your Occupational Health & Safety Technician (OHST) without a college degree. You will need that to compete in the EHS Specialist market. The other key too success is being willing to go to where the work is. You will only find a limited number of organizations that will hire a non-degreed EHS Specialist from outside their organization. You will have to go to them. If internal promotion with your current employer is possible, that is your best strategy. I hope this helps! Good luck with the OHST.
My son recently graduated from college with a degree in psychology but I’m in the Safety business and have convinced him to pursue an EHS route. Some online classes provide an EHS certificate, is that legit? What’s a 30 or 40 hour online certificate that he should get that will qualify him EHS certified?
Sorry Gina, just realized you posted this. Is your son still interested in safety? The short answer is that to be competitive he will need to either have some actual experience or obtain at least an online degree from an institution like Columbia Southern. Another thought is to get him involved with ASSP to develop connections and possibly gain some experience. Bottom line, not and easy route be he can get there!