Health and safety both sound boring, right? When people hear the words Health and Safety, they instantly switch off. However, times are changing, and health and safety is becoming one of the main focuses for businesses – because without it, staff businesses will not be around for long!
This means the need for Health and Safety Professionals is significantly increasing – especially for young people wanting to start their Health and Safety career.
I started my Health and Safety career by accident (typical right!) at the youthful age of sixteen, straight from finishing my GCSEs as a Facilities and QHSE Apprentice for a large pump manufacturer. At this point, I did not realise that I would go on to have a strong career in Health and Safety, developing into new and exciting roles and developing myself with several qualifications (including a degree!).
Now, you might be thinking, why would I choose Health and Safety as a career, and is it right for me? Well, let's have a look!
Working as a Health and Safety professional comes with its responsibilities and requires effective communication skills. The main part of your role will be talking to people (including senior management) to ensure the organisation you work in complies with legal requirements.
The role of a Health and Safety professional is also a varied one! You will need to be someone who is willing to get stuck in and someone willing to go out of their comfort zone from time to time (with lots of support).
Most importantly, you will need to be trustworthy. Daily, you will be processing or in possession of confidential information. So, it is imperative you are a trustworthy individual.
Health and safety careers offer opportunities galore; therefore, it is imperative that certain skills and qualities be developed if one wishes to excel within this sector. Let's discuss essential attributes that could guide their journey:
Starting a career in health and safety can be an exciting journey that starts with education, training and experience in this dynamic field. Here's a roadmap that can help guide you along your journey:
Education and Qualifications:
To start off right in health and safety roles, obtain the requisite education and credentials. Many health and safety roles typically call for at least a bachelor's degree in fields like occupational health, environmental science or industrial hygiene. Also, some additional certifications like Certified Safety Professional or Certified Industrial Hygienist can enhance credentials further.
Gain Real World Experience:
Acquiring real-world experience is invaluable, and seeking internships, entry-level positions, or apprenticeships related to health and safety will enable you to apply your knowledge directly in real-life scenarios and establish a solid foundation.
Networking and Professional Associations:
Join health and safety professional associations like the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) or the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). Such associations offer networking opportunities, access to resources, as well as insights into industry trends.
Stay Up-To-Date and Continuously Learn:
Health and safety fields are constantly shifting; keep abreast of emerging regulations, technologies, and best practices by attending workshops, conferences, webinars or advanced degrees and certifications in this field.
As your experience expands, consider specialising in one particular aspect of health and safety, such as construction safety, industrial hygiene or environmental compliance. Doing so could open doors to more specialised roles within this profession.
Endless open doors! The world of health and safety professionals is not a big one – and the current one is ageing. This means that there are endless opportunities for young health and safety professionals (especially apprentices!). It is a career for life.
Development Opportunities. As a young health and safety professional, you will be exposed to endless development opportunities for you to grow and develop both personally and professionally through courses and general workplace experiences.
It is fast-paced, and no day is the same. I have been a health and safety professional for over 4 years, and I can vouch for this! Health and safety are ever-changing (as demonstrated by COVID-19), so no two days will ever be the same. It's also fast-paced, so you will not be sitting twiddling your thumbs for long.
If you are interested in a potential career in Health and Safety, the best bit of advice I can give is to do your research and go for it! Also, make sure you look at what industry you want to go into (Construction, Manufacturing, Food, Oil and Gas … the options are endless!).
LinkedIn is also your friend. Reach out to people and ask for their thoughts on the profession. My profile is always open! Or contact NGTU, and they will put you in touch with either myself or someone else in the Health and Safety field.
What careers exist within health and safety?
Explore all your career options within this sector, from safety managers and industrial hygienists to environmental health specialists and risk assessors - them!
What qualifications and certifications are necessary for working in health and safety?
Provide information regarding educational requirements, certifications and qualifications needed by prospective health and safety professionals looking to enter this industry.
What industries or sectors require health and safety specialists most often?
Name some examples such as construction, healthcare, manufacturing or government agencies where health and safety specialists are needed in high numbers.
How can I advance my career in health and safety once I have begun it?
Discuss strategies for career progression, including strategies on developing specific skills, seeking leadership positions, and keeping abreast of industry developments.
What are the key challenges and rewards associated with working in health and safety?
Discuss both aspects - such as job stability, the possibility of making positive impacts, and continuing learning opportunities - when discussing this career choice.