Health and Safety - a career, not just a job

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Many health and safety practitioners look at their responsibilities as part of their day-to-day job.  With qualifications like a NEBOSH Diploma or a Health and Safety MSc, it can be a very rewarding and lucrative career.

 

It is not uncommon for people to choose the ‘caring’ professions as they make their career choices and plans.  When I search Google for a list of caring professions and careers, the results that I get back are varied, interesting but they don’t include occupational health and safety.  Doctors, nurses, social workers are all seen as caring careers, but occupation health and safety doesn’t get a look in.

Partly, it’s the reputation of health and safety in the wider world.  The ‘Nanny state’ view that many have of health and safety practitioners.  Partly, it’s the role’s remit and the fact that it’s something that the public aren’t directly engaged with.  Partly, it’s because it’s a provided not requested service - that is to say that good Health and Safety practitioners deal with problems before they need fixing and without anyone asking them to do it, while we ask a doctor to make us better.

Whatever the reason, many people find that they have become Health and Safety practitioners by virtue of having the responsibility handed to them at some point.

Health and Safety is a career choice

Being a Health and Safety practitioner is a career and as career choices go, it’s up there with some of the best.  Firstly, look at the fundamental aspect – it’s about people’s health and safety.  It’s a career that is dedicated to reducing accidents, stress, injuries and often deaths at work.  HR managers advertising roles with “high risk of going out in the morning and never coming home” in their vacancy adverts are unlikely to see many high-calibre applicants come through the door. So, a good, qualified and knowledgeable Health and Safety practitioner is essential to a successfully operating business. Tweet this 

A role in Health and Safety requires excellent communication skills.  Whether you’re talking to people on the shop floor or in the board room, you will have to be able to get your point across clearly, effectively and in a way that shows you’re helping people to operate and behave safely in everything that they do at work. 

You will need a good appreciation of the law, how to interpret the law and apply it to your company.  You’ll therefore need to be one of those people who can read detailed documents and make sense of them.

Progression routes

One of the main differences between a career and a job is growth and the ability to progress, grow and earn more.  Health and Safety officer roles are relatively well paid, with starting salaries around £22k, but fully qualified Health and Safety Practitioners, especially those with a Health and Safety MSc can earn £50k upwards. 

Overall, becoming a specialist in Health and Safety, instead of just bolting an additional responsibility on to another operationally focused role, can be highly rewarding. 

Getting qualified

There are many accredited and well regarded training courses available for people who want to develop their Health and Safety career.  The NEBOSH diploma is a very popular and seen as an excellent way of developing your knowledge of the field.  On from the diploma, EEF’s Health and Safety MSc is an excellent choice for Health and Safety officers who want to take their career to the next level.  As well as being recognised by major bodies such as IOSH and IIRSM, the Health and Safety MSc also offers greater career opportunities.  On average, MSc qualified Health and Safety professionals earn £8,500 more per year than those qualified up to diploma level.

 

 

If you are a Health, Saftey and Environmental profressional and would like to take your career to the next level, EEF offers an MSc in Health, Safety and Environemental Management in association with Oxford Brookes University, and guides to other professional qualifications in HSE and leadership & management.

 

Author

Health, Safety and Sustainability Director

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