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Occupational Health and Safety Specialist
Summary Job Description Education Skills, Abilities and Interests More Information

Education RequiredAll occupational health and safety specialists and technicians are trained in the applicable laws or inspection procedures through some combination of classroom and on-the-job training. Awards and degrees in programs related to occupational safety and health include 1-year certificates, associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and graduate degrees. Many employers, including the Federal Government, require a bachelor’s degree in occupational health, safety, or a related field, such as engineering, biology, or chemistry, for some specialist positions. Many industrial hygiene programs result in a master’s degree. Experience as an occupational health and safety professional is also a prerequisite for many positions. Advancement to senior specialist positions is likely to require an advanced degree and substantial experience in several areas of practice.

Federal government occupational health and safety specialists whose job performance is satisfactory advance through their career ladder to a specified full-performance level. For positions above this level, usually supervisory positions, advancement is competitive and based on agency needs and individual merit. Advancement opportunities in state and local governments and the private sector are often similar to those in the federal government.

With additional experience or education, promotion to a managerial position is possible. Research or related teaching positions at the college level require advanced education.

Recommended High School CoursesBiology, Mathematics, English, Chemistry, Physics

Postsecondary Instructional ProgramsLaw, Government and Jurisprudence, Public Safety and Security, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Medicine and Dentistry, Education and Training, English Language

Certification and LicensingAlthough voluntary, many employers encourage certification. Credentialing is available through several organizations depending on the specialists’ field of work. Organizations credentialing health and safety professionals include the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) and the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH).

The BCSP offers the Certified Safety Professional (CSP) credential, while the ABIH offers the Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) and Certified Associate Industrial Hygienist (CAIH) credentials. Also, the Council on Certification of Health, Environmental, and Safety Technologists, a joint effort between the BCSP and ABIH, awards the Occupational Health and Safety Technologist (OHST) and Construction Health and Safety Technician (CHST) credentials.

Requirements for the OHST and CHST credentials are less stringent than those for the CSP, CIH, or CAIH credentials. Once education and experience requirements have been met, certification may be obtained through an examination. Continuing education is required for recertification.