A career in health and safety can be both lucrative and fulfilling. On a typical day, you can expect to be using your knowledge and skill-set to reduce work-related accidents, injuries and illness. You may also be responsible for devising health and safety policies and ensuring that employers and employees follow them for the future of the company.
The qualifications you need will depend on the type of job you are looking for. While there are many different professional courses that can be taken, it’s a good idea to start with a short introductory course for beginners, such as the NEBOSH Health and Safety at Work qualification. To gain a broad understanding of health and safety issues, many people go on to study the NEBOSH General Certificate. Largely considered as an essential qualification for most health and safety roles, this course covers key topics such as managerial duties, how to conduct an adequate risk assessment and how to investigate risks. When you are ready to advance in your career, or you require specialist knowledge, you can then go on to study a more detailed course, such as a NEBOSH diploma. To work as a full-time health and safety practitioner, you will usually need a higher qualification approved by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health with IOSH.
An important factor to consider when training for a qualification is your method of study.
Bear in mind that completing a health and safety course can be challenging, especially if you are trying to juggle work and other commitments. To ensure that you succeed, you may want to consider a study programme that has flexible hours, such as an e-learning course. By using web-based learning methods, you don’t have to be tied down to classroom schedules and you can study at your own pace.
Before you begin studying for a qualification, it’s a good idea to gain practical experience in a health and safety role; then this will give you an idea of the types of challenges you may face later in your career and show prospective employers that you are keen and have an interest in the industry. A background in manufacturing, engineering or construction may also be particularly useful.
Another option is to start off by being a health and safety representative or trade union member for your current employer. Any kind of health and safety related work experience will give you a good head start when applying for future roles.