If you want to grow and advance as a safety professional, you have to keep learning. Many people choose to work toward and eventually earn safety certifications as a way of demonstrating their expertise and opening the door to new career opportunities. But to maintain those certifications and continue proving what you know, you’ll need continuing education units (CEUs).
Jessica Richardson, CSP, CIT, CHST, STSC, is senior manager of professional and organizational advancement for the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP), the organization that administers many of the most recognized safety credentials. She knows a thing or two about how to earn CEUs.
“We look at CEUs as opportunities to make sure you’re staying relevant in the profession and you’re keeping up-to-date with new things that are happening,” Richardson explains. “As the world of work grows, so does our profession.”
The BCSP recertification cycle requires that those with associate safety professional (ASP), certified safety professional (CSP) or safety management specialist (SMS) designations attain 25 recertification points every five years. Those with the occupational hygiene and safety technician (OHST), construction health and safety technician (CHST) or certified instructional trainer (CIT) designation must attain 20 recertification points every five years.
“Every five years, you as a professional show that you are investing in yourself and putting your education first,” she says. “CEUs are really valuable because they are tied to the credential that you’re recertifying.”
There’s no shortage of opportunities to earn CEUs as you continue your safety education throughout your career. Here are 10 ways to get on the path to recertification.
1. Professional Experience
Believe it or not, a large portion of your CEUs will come from the work you already do every day. To earn CEUs to maintain your ASP or CSP, for example, professional safety must be the primary function of your position and make up at least 50% of your duties. To maintain and recertify the CHST or OHST, your position must have at least 35% of its duties in occupational safety and health.
For ASP, CSP, SMS, OHST, CHST and CIT designations, you can earn 10 points for the 5 year cycle at 2 points per year for professional safety practice.
2. Join a Safety Organization
Membership in safety organizations (such as this one) provides the opportunity to grow in the profession, connect with safety colleagues and earn CEUs. You earn 1 point per year for membership in a national organization and 0.50 points per year for membership in a regional, state or local organization.
3. Become a Volunteer Leader
Taking the next step from joining a safety organization to assuming a leadership role within that organization can earn you even more CEUs. Whether you’re serving a chapter, practice specialty, common interest group or at the Society level, being a volunteer leader can be life-changing.
“When I talk to folks about how to professionally develop, one of my first recommendations is to join ASSP,” Richardson says. “But most importantly become a leader, participate, serve and make your mark.”
Serving as an officer of a national safety organization or on a national safety organization’s committee or commission earns you 2 CEUs per year. Similar service to a regional, state or local safety organization earns you 1 CEU per year.
4. Give a Safety Conference Presentation
You can earn CEUs not only by continuing your own education, but also by educating others and contributing to the advancement of the safety profession. Presenting at a safety conference will raise your profile in the safety community, establish your expertise and earn you CEUs. You earn .25 points per year for presenting sessions of 15-60 minutes, .50 points per year for presenting at a poster session of 90-120 minutes, and 1 point per year for presenting at a roundtable of 90-120 minutes.
“It’s one thing to attend conferences and it’s another thing to speak at them,” Richardson explains. “My advice would be to take the jump.”
5. Get Published or Develop a Patent
Publishing a safety-related paper or article of at least 1,500 words in a peer-reviewed journal is worth 2 CEUs per year if you are the sole author and 1 CEU per year if you collaborate with others. Authoring a safety-related book earns you 5 CEUs per year, regardless of the number of authors or editors.
If you are the single inventor listed on a patent, you can earn 1 CEU per year, with 0.50 CEUs awarded if there are multiple inventors.
6. Attend a Safety Conference
Professional development conferences offer many ways to expand your knowledge, find solutions to ongoing challenges and connect with fellow safety professionals. For attending a conference, in person or virtually, you can earn 1 point per CEU.
7. Participate in Safety-Related Education and Training
There are so many opportunities to learn key safety and health concepts at your own pace and on your own time. Attending safety-related education and training is also a great way to earn CEUs.
For participating in or teaching a course or seminar, you earn 1 point per CEU. Developers earn 0.50 points per CEU, with a maximum of 3 points per year allowed. If you earn a safety-related certificate after completing a series of courses, that counts for 1 additional CEU.
8. Complete Safety-Related College or University Courses
A continuing education takes many forms, including in the world of higher education. Whether you’re participating in a course, developing it or teaching it, you can earn CEUs towards your recertification. Students and teachers earn 2 CEUs per semester hour, with developers earning 1 CEU per semester hour.
9. Earn an Advanced Degree
If you’re interested in continuing your journey in higher education beyond taking a course or earning your bachelor’s degree, attaining an advanced degree adds even more CEUs to your overall total. Any degree which meets BCSP’s requirements for this category earns you 25 CEUs.
10. Attain Additional Certifications or Licenses
As you advance in your career, every certification or license you attain earns you additional CEUs. There are dozens of certifications and licenses available to you as a safety and health professional, including certified industrial hygienist (CIH), certified safety management practitioner (CSMP) and project management professional (PMP). Each designation carries with it a certain number of CEUs that you can use toward recertification.
However you earn your CEUs, Richardson encourages you to log them into your BCSP profile as you attain them so you don’t fall behind during the recertification cycle and have to log all of your CEUs at the last minute.
Never Stop Learning and Growing
Continuous safety and health improvement starts with you. Get the education you need to keep people safe and advance your career.