Occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals are in hot demand these days. In the age of COVID, keeping people safe at work has never been so important.
So you're smart to be thinking about getting into the OHS field.
But before you sign up for a program, you need to understand some basic details about this training and career path.
That means things like what skills you need, what kinds of jobs you could get, and how much money you could make.
You should also understand your training options and how to choose a quality OHS program.
In this post, we cover all of that and more.
Here are 7 things you need to know before enrolling in health and safety training.
1. WHAT ARE THE JOB OPTIONS IN OHS?
First things first: what jobs can an occupational health and safety course help you get?
New graduates commonly start out as health and safety officers or coordinators. They usually report to an OHS manager or supervisor.
Entry-level roles involve working with a team to enforce workplace safety policies and train staff on safety procedures and regulations.
You could work for a wide range of organizations. These include safety auditing companies, insurance firms, government agencies, healthcare organizations, and construction companies.
There are plenty of potential employers in this field.
2. WHAT EXACTLY WILL YOU DO IN AN ENTRY-LEVEL OHS ROLE?
Health and safety officers are a key part of the OHS team.
You'll have a chance to do a lot of different things, from investigating workplace accidents to following up on complaints and claims.
Your tasks could include:
☑️ Inspecting work sites for potential dangers
☑️ Helping develop and document health and safety procedures
☑️ Leading safety training sessions
☑️ Making sure workers are following health and safety regulations
☑️ Investigating illnesses or accidents in the workplace
☑️ Tracking Worker Compensation claims
So even as a beginner, your workdays can be very diverse.
3. WHAT'S THE career OUTLOOK FOR OHS PROFESSIONALS IN ONTARIO?
With the pandemic still raging, there's a greater emphasis on workplace safety, including physical wellbeing and mental health.
That translates into more job opportunities for skilled workers in this field.
In fact, Ontario recently hired more than 100 new OHS professionals to conduct workplace inspections and make sure public health directives are being followed.
And Labour Minister Monte McNaughton stressed that OHS professionals have a major role to play both now and in the future.
"With a new total of more than 500 inspectors, our government is building the largest team of inspectors in Ontario's history to educate business owners, enforce public health measures and keep workplaces safe now and for many years to come."
4. HOW LONG DOES HEALTH AND SAFETY TRAINING TAKE?
That depends on whether you earn an OHS degree or diploma.
Degree programs provide more in-depth training and can help you advance to management positions more quickly. They typically take 4 years of study.
On the other hand, a health and safety program at the college level is more focused on the practical skills you need to land an entry-level job.
Many OHS diploma programs take 2 years or less to complete.
How quickly do you want to get into the workforce?
5. WHAT KIND OF SKILLS DO YOU NEED TO THRIVE IN OHS?
It takes a solid understanding of safety regulations and procedures to succeed in the OHS field. But that's not all you need.
Andrew Pugachev is an OHS expert and instructor. He says communication, organization, and people skills are critical.
He has this advice for anyone considering an OHS career:
"If you don't communicate well and get workers (and management) to 'buy in,' they'll feel like the safety programs are being shoved down their throats! Obviously, you won't get positive results.
You must truly have the desire to help people, and train/educate them with clarity and conciseness.
Any successful health and safety program must be carefully scheduled, so you need to be well organized.
And always remember, no matter how much you think you know, there's always more. So learn to listen early and often to everyone and anyone with something valuable to add!"
Communication, listening, organization, and a genuine desire to help others are key qualities for OHS professionals.
6. How Much do health and safety professionals make?
How much money will you make after you graduate from health and safety training and land your first job?
According to the Government of Canada Job Bank, OHS professionals in Ontario start out making about $40,900 per year.
After a few years of experience, you can earn a much higher income.
The Job Bank says OHS professionals in Ontario make a median salary around $73,000. And the top earners make over $105,000.
So skilled pros in this field have solid earning potential.
7. WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK FOR IN A HEALTH AND SAFETY TRAINING PROGRAM?
Before you invest your time and money in a health and safety training program, you want to be sure it will give you a quality education.
Here are a few things to check.
☑️ Is it BCRSP-approved?
The Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals (BCRSP) is an internationally recognized organization that certifies OHS professionals.
Graduating from a BCRSP-approved program means you can write the exam to become a Canadian Registered Safety Technician (CRST). This entry-level certification is recognized all over the country and can help you get hired.
☑️ Can you train online?
Busy with other commitments? Need the ability to study from home?
Some OHS programs offer an online option. That gives you maximum flexibility and ensures your studies won't be interrupted by public health restrictions during the pandemic.
☑️ Does it include an internship?
An internship is a valuable opportunity to connect with local employers, practice your skills, and build your confidence.
Plus, hands-on work experience is a great thing to have on your resume when you finish your health and safety training.
Many students even get hired right out of their internships. So make the program you choose includes this feature.
Explore HEALTH AND SAFETY TRAINING AT HERZING COLLEGE
Ready to start training for an OHS career?
Herzing College Ottawa's Occupational Health and Safety program is fully approved by the BCRSP. Successful students are eligible for CRST certification right after graduation.
The program runs for 12 months and includes an 8-week internship.
The training can also be completed online.
Click below to explore Herzing's OHS program and chat live with an Admissions Advisor. We're here to help!