Updated January 2023
A career in workplace health and safety can be incredibly rewarding. This field focuses on preventing accidents and injuries on job sites, which is valuable and meaningful work.
Plus, the health and safety industry is growing fast and offers a wide variety of job opportunities.
But like any career, working in health and safety comes with challenges and downsides. What should you know in advance before you start down this path?
In this post, we break down the most common pros and cons of a career in workplace health and safety. We'll give you a clearer understanding of what this role is about, so you can decide if it's right for you.
Let's get started.
Pro: Workplace Health and Safety Professionals are In Demand
Occupational health and safety (OHS) is a huge priority for businesses in the wake of the pandemic. New safety policies are being put in place in every industry around the world.
The Government of Canada Job Bank forecasts strong demand for OHS specialists in several areas of the country, including Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. All of those provinces get four out of five stars for outlook and demand.
This makes now an excellent time to begin a career in workplace health and safety.
Con: OHS work can be stressful
Some OHS professionals report that aspects of their work can be quite stressful. For example, investigating a death in the workplace, or dealing with a serious accident such as an explosion, chemical spill, or environmental breach.
Although they are trained to handle such events, workplace health and safety officers never get used to deaths, injuries, and serious accidents on the job.
Pro: Plenty of career opportunities for workplace health and safety officers
Occupational health and safety is required in virtually every industry. Because every workplace must adhere to government health and safety regulations, OHS professionals enjoy a wide variety of career opportunities.
☑️ Government offices and agencies
☑️ Insurance companies
☑️ Healthcare organizations
☑️ Safety auditing firms
☑️ Manufacturing companies
☑️ Construction companies
Graduates of a quality occupational health and safety program are qualified for several roles, including:
☑️ Health and Safety Coordinator
☑️ Health Safety Advisor
☑️ Health and Safety Officer
☑️ Safety Coordinator
Con: This career requires continuous learning and skill-building
Looking for a job where you don't have to constantly learn new skills? Workplace health and safety isn't for you!
OHS professionals spend their entire careers updating their safety training methods, keeping up with changing government regulations, and learning new ways to protect worker health and wellness.
A health and safety officer doesn’t implement a single strategy for all workplaces. The practices you learn in school provide a good foundation to start, but you will need to customize and evolve those approaches for every employer you work with.
This can be a "pro" if you enjoy learning and like a good challenge. It all depends on your priorities and goals.
Pro: The work is meaningful and protects people's lives
Occupational health and safety professionals play a very important role in society. They train managers and employees on how to work safely, including physical, mental, and emotional wellness in the workplace.
They prepare emergency response plans, investigate accidents, and develop strategies to continuously improve working conditions.
This is a meaningful career where you can actually save lives.
Cons: You are required to be strict and unforgiving
Workplace health and safety officers are the enforcers. They do safety audits and inspections to ensure managers and workers are following correct safety procedures.
If a company doesn't comply, a safety officer can impose fines or penalties, or even get the workplace shut down.
Because you are dealing with discipline and enforcement, not everybody will appreciate having you around. Some people may resent being told to do their job differently, even if the changes are meant to protect their own safety.
OHS professionals need a thick skin. They must be persuasive, persistent, and focused on their ultimate goal: protecting lives.
Pro: You can complete Health and Safety training in just 12 months
You can complete workplace safety training in as little as 12 months. Some OHS diploma programs also include an internship, so you can gain real work experience prior to graduation.
Courses include training in occupational health and safety laws, conducting workplace safety inspections, creating emergency response plans, and reducing work-related accidents and injuries.
The goal is to prepare students for real-world OHS situations. Graduates are ready to hit the ground running as health and safety officers.
Con: It can be tough to convince people of health and safety procedures
OHS officers can have a hard time getting staff to accept and implement new safety measures. This is a well-known challenge of the trade.
Many people are naturally resistant to change. Others think the new OHS policies will slow down production and make life harder at work.
To be successful in this career, you must be able to connect with and motivate others. You need strong communication skills and the ability to build trust and rapport.
Communication and consensus-building are two important skills students learn in Herzing's health and safety program. Our students learn how to talk to people about safety training and get them on board with a new strategy.
Pro: Earn nationally recognized health and safety certifications
Students who graduate from accredited health and safety programs can qualify for nationally recognized OHS certifications.
If your diploma program is approved by the Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals (BCRSP), you can earn a Canadian Registered Safety Technician (CRST) certification immediately after graduation.
Once you gain some work experience, you can pursue the more advanced certification, called the Canadian Registered Safety Professional.
These certifications are recognized and respected across Canada. The best news? You don't need a university degree to qualify for certification. Just make sure your diploma program is approved by the BCRSP.
Learn more about workplace health and safety training
If you're ready to pursue a career in workplace health and safety, your next step is to explore training options.
There are programs available both online and on campus. We recommend making a short list of preferred schools and talking with an admissions advisor at each college. An advisor can answer all your questions about training, career paths, certifications, tuition costs, and course schedules.
Get started by exploring the 12-month Occupational Health and Safety program at Herzing College.
Click below for a complete overview of the program and chat live with an advisor. We're here to help!