BCSP Viewpoints

BCSP Viewpoints: Opportunity awaits the safety pros of tomorrow


The need for highly qualified safety professionals is as great as it’s ever been. As systems and projects become more intricate and complex, it seems the supply of safety expertise is having difficulty keeping up with the demand. To ensure safe practices into the future, it’s critical to impress upon the bright minds of tomorrow the qualities that make this profession such a worthy pursuit.

Many talented young people may not even be aware of safety as a potential career. They might already be engaged in another area of study altogether. But whatever that is, there’s likely a safety direction to pursue. Safety pros are in engineering and manufacturing, of course, but there are also safety pros in hospitality, retail and any number of other fields. That’s one of the greatest draws of the profession: When it comes to potential industries, the opportunities are endless. It may be more obvious in some than in others, but the truth is safety is everywhere.

As such, talented safety pros are in high demand. They’re sought after and often well-compensated. Salary data from 2020 revealed that full-time safety pros earned a median base salary of $98,000, with those holding a safety certification earning $20,000 more than those without. The more you know and the more qualifications you earn, the more people want you. The door is open for those who really want to learn and grow.

Setting these benefits aside, safety is worth pursuing on its own merits. Put simply, it’s a noble career. You often hear people longing for a job that has meaning, makes a difference and helps others. Safety checks all of those boxes. By protecting people and the environment, safety pros do essential and satisfying work.

It’s important that young people know about all these advantages before choosing their professional direction. We can offer them resources and advice to help along the way. If they follow the safety path, they’ll not go it alone. From education and certification to professional organizations and networking, there are tools to help future safety pros reach their goals.

For students who already know they want to study safety, hundreds of college and university programs await – and scholarships are available to outstanding students at many of these institutions. Graduates from Qualified Academic Programs, as designated by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals, meet the requirements for attaining the Graduate Safety Practitioner designation. These graduates enter the workforce with a credential to their name and a clear path toward becoming a Certified Safety Professional.

Others may find their way by diving directly into the workforce and learning through on-the-job experience. Although some certifications, such as the CSP, require a bachelor’s degree, others, including the Safety Management Specialist, do not. There’s a certification available to professionals of all backgrounds and at all stages to advance their careers.

Additionally, professional organizations provide a means to learn, build a resume, make connections and find mentorship. These opportunities exist at local, regional and national levels. Organizations like the National Safety Council even offer student memberships to help young people get involved. The more people you meet, the better.

The future of safety requires incoming professionals with both technical capability and the soft skills to work with others and communicate the proper message. As we look to identify the leaders of tomorrow, let’s eagerly promote the value of this rewarding career and the resources available to help them along their journey.

The Board of Certified Safety Professionals provides safety practitioners credentials they can achieve that demonstrate their value, advancing the careers of proven professionals, and protecting workplaces, communities and the environment. BCSP partners with Safety+Health to help certificants maintain certification via a monthly online quiz related to each issue of the magazine.

Board of Certified Safety Professionals

This article represents the views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

Dave West, CSP, ASP, PE, CHMM, is the examinations director for the Board of Certified Safety Professionals. He oversees the development and maintenance of exams for BCSP’s eight certifications. A former senior director and chief safety engineer for SAIC, he’s a member of NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel and the incoming president of the International System Safety Society.


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