What Is the Best Safety Certification?

Pick the accredited certification that is right for you

October 24, 2023

When searching for safety certifications to enhance your practice and advance your career, you will come across a wide variety of options. How do you determine which one is the best?

There are many factors to consider. What level of experience does the certification require? How broad or specialized is it? What level of expertise is required for the material covered in the certification’s exam? And, of critical importance, is the certification accredited?

First of all, there is value in pursuing an accredited safety certification of any kind. Growing your knowledge and pushing yourself to achieve will make you a better safety professional. Second, the question should really be “which is the right certification for me?” Based on your responsibilities and your future aspirations, the answer to that question will differ.

That said, here are some high-level safety certifications to consider:

  • Certified Safety Professional® (CSP®)
    The CSP is recognized as the gold standard in safety certification for the level of expertise it validates. It was the first certification in safety, health, and environmental (SH&E) practice accredited by the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) under their personnel certification program to the ISO/IEC 17024 standard and is held by over 24,000 active safety professionals. Candidates who attain the CSP prove they have wide-ranging knowledge and the understanding needed to oversee safety within an organization, including tasks like implementing safety management systems, evaluating risk and control measures, preparing emergency response plans, and much more. Requiring a bachelor’s degree and prior achievement of a qualifying credential, the CSP is a desired qualification among employers.
  • Safety Management Specialist® (SMS®)
    BSCP’s SMS, like the CSP, identifies skills and expertise for managing safety, health, and environmental programs. It is heavier on the experience requirement (10 years instead of four) but does not have the educational requirement of the CSP nor the requirement to first achieve a qualifying credential. The SMS is a high-level certification for seasoned safety professionals and validates their ability to implement and lead safety programs.
  • Associate Safety Professional® (ASP®)
    ASPs demonstrate knowledge of safety concepts, the ability to supervise employees and activities, proficiency in hazard identification and risk reduction, and more. In addition to standing on its own merits as a well-respected credential, the ASP also serves as BCSP’s gateway to the CSP, satisfying its qualifying credential requirement. The ASP requires a bachelor’s degree in any field or an associate degree in SH&E.
  • Certified Industrial Hygienist® (CIH®)
    Awarded by the Board for Global EHS Credentialing, the CIH certifies expertise in the practice of industrial hygiene. It seeks to identify skills for “anticipating, recognizing, evaluating, and controlling chemical, physical, ergonomic, or biological hazards.” The CIH requires candidates to acquire a designated amount of science, math, engineering, or science-based technology course hours. Many high-level safety professionals seek both the CSP and the CIH, and holding the CIH qualifies a candidate to pursue the CSP.
  • Certified Hazardous Materials Manager® (CHMM®)
    Conferred by the Institute of Hazardous Materials Management, the CHMM certifies competence in laws and regulatory compliance related to the management of hazardous materials. The CHMM requires a bachelor’s degree and relevant work experience.
  • Chartered Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (CMIOSH)*
    Based in the United Kingdom, IOSH offers recognition for achieving professional qualifications. The CMIOSH is one of the most advanced of its offerings. It first requires achievement of an IOSH or similar degree. The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH) National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety is one of these. It also requires completion of IOSH’s Initial Professional Development scheme and a successful peer review interview. CMIOSH status qualifies a candidate to pursue the CSP.

While safety professionals currently holding or aspiring to leadership positions will want to consider the above certifications, those are only some of the possibilities that exist. Additional certification options are available, recognizing skills for various responsibilities throughout all levels of an organization. Based on your individual needs, you will also want to consider the following:

*Based in United Kingdom

As of the date of publishing, the United States-based credentials listed in this article are all accredited by ANAB under their personnel certification program to the ISO/IEC 17024 standard, the most widely accepted accreditation offered for personnel certification bodies and the most recognized program internationally. ANAB is the first personnel certification accreditation body in the U.S. to meet internationally accepted practices for accreditation. These certifications are recognized in the profession and you will often see them listed in job postings.

Certifications accredited to ANAB ISO/IEC 17024 demonstrate to employers that the credential holder has undergone a valid, fair, and reliable assessment to verify they have necessary competencies to practice. Certifying bodies that hold ANAB ISO/IEC 17024 accreditation demonstrate by way of ongoing third-party assessment that their structure, policies, and procedures safeguard impartiality, ensure objectivity, and manage conflict of interest arising from certification activities.

As you consider certifications, you will want to first ensure they are accredited. Then you will want to select the ones that most align with your current and future responsibilities and goals. Pick what is right for you, achieve certification, and be recognized for what you contribute to safety.