The exact qualifications needed to become a safety specialist may vary based on location, but they generally include a combination of formal education, hands-on work experience in the field, and a written examination. These things can be obtained by attending a government-approved school and then interning or taking an entry level position at an occupational safety firm or department. Special licensing may also be required in certain locations, depending on the exact nature of the job.
Most areas require at least a bachelor’s degree in order to become a safety specialist, preferably in a safety-related field. You can speak with your school’s student advisers to determine the best major for the career field you wish to enter. Obtaining a master’s or doctoral degree is also an option, although this is not generally necessary for an entry-level specialist’s position.
Once all credits are obtained to earn your degree, you may need continued education either as an internship or as additional college courses. This is not always the case and it may depend on the exact specialties you wish to pursue. After all formal training has been obtained, you will likely be required to take a written examination in order to become certified or licensed. This step may be needed before or after you have worked in the field.
Nearly all areas require some level of work experience in the field in order to become a safety specialist. This will allow you the chance to work alongside officers who have years of experience doing what you want to do, and will give you the opportunity to ask plenty of questions. Learn as much as you can from your superiors and use this time to grasp as much knowledge as possible. You will be glad you did when you are on your own.
After all training and licensing is complete, you can either attempt to get a job with a local firm in need of your services, or you can start your own business. Both are viable options used to become a safety specialist, and each has its own benefits. Working for someone else will provide more security in terms of income and added bonuses like vacation pay and sick leave. Having your own business can be beneficial as well since it provides a greater income potential and more flexibility.
Don’t forget that in some areas or with certain jobs, you may need additional licensing or training aside from your basic schooling. For example, some specialists are required to use heavy machinery like fork lifts, which require special licensing. Find out ahead of time which additional education, if any, you may need to obtain.