How to Become a Safety Consultant

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Two safety consultants examining blueprints.

Safety consultants are professionals who are usually brought in from outside a company to provide advice and expertise about safety matters. According to the website Occupational Health & Safety, outside consultants can provide a valuable service even for companies that have in-house safety directors.

“[An in-house employee] does not have the time, and your budget constraints do not allow him or her the resources, to keep up with the ever-changing environment in which we live and work,” the site explains. “Therefore, in most cases, it is very cost-effective to hire a safety consultant to take a fresh look at your company policies, training, accident prevention programs, and a multitude of other issues that may be particular to your type of industry and company.”

Safety consultants and those seeking to enter other occupational health and safety careers must be highly knowledgeable in industry-specific areas. Much of that background may be obtained through programs such as an online Master of Science in Safety, Security, and Emergency Management.

Safety Consultant Job Description

A company might have many different reasons for engaging a safety consultant. Three primary benefits provided by safety consultants include those listed below.

  • Ensuring federal, state and local safety regulation compliance
  • Ensuring employee safety
  • Managing risk and reducing liability

The specific tasks performed by a consultant will vary depending on the particulars of an assignment and the industry. A safety consultant’s overarching role typically falls into the following general areas.

  • Evaluating Programs: When entering a new assignment, a safety consultant’s first duty is often to evaluate an organization’s existing safety-related policies and programs. The consultant must understand current practices before he or she can suggest improvements.
  • Identifying Problems in Workstations, Offices and Other Spaces: The second step is often observation. A safety consultant spends time in an organization’s workspaces to see how safety practices are carried out and to identify any shortcomings. The safety consultant may also personally test machinery, if he or she has the knowledge, or supervise contractors in doing this work.
  • Investigating Incidents or Accidents: In some cases, safety consultants are engaged as the result of on-site incidents or accidents. They investigate the circumstances leading to the incident, as well as the response and post-incident follow-up.
  • Writing Safety Manuals and Policies: Once a safety consultant has a full understanding of an organization’s safety needs, he or she may be tasked with writing safety manuals and response plans for ongoing use. Sound writing skills and an understanding of risk management are required for this task.
  • Providing Training: Safety consultants are often called upon to deliver mandated safety training or certifications to an organization’s employees. The consultant must ensure that the training meets all federal, state, local and/or industry requirements.

Safety Consultant Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the field of occupational health and safety as a whole is expected to experience a 4% growth in jobs between 2019 and 2029. About 122,600 occupational health and safety specialists, including safety consultants, had jobs in 2019. The number of professionals in the field is projected to grow to 127,400 by 2029.

According to the compensation website PayScale, the median annual salary for safety consultants as of November 2020 was about $64,000, with an overall range of $51,000 to $83,000. Factors contributing to individual pay rates include education, certifications, additional skills or areas of specialization and years of experience.

How to Become a Safety Consultant

Individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in occupational health and safety can consider following these steps to become a safety consultant.

Step #1: Earn a Degree

Candidates for all occupational health and safety careers typically need a bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety, engineering, biology or a related scientific or technical field. An advanced education, such as a Master of Science in Safety, Security, and Emergency Management (MSSSEM) degree, can potentially increase a candidate’s desirability and increase their salary. Students can earn an MSSSEM degree with a concentration in corporate security management, emergency management and disaster resilience or occupational safety.

Step #2: Earn Certification

Earning certification may be optional for safety consultants. However, many employers encourage it. After graduating from an accredited master’s degree program, individuals can qualify to sit for certification exams offered by The Board of Certified Safety Professionals.

Safety Consultant Training

Like all consulting, the field of safety consulting is highly variable. Safety consultants typically receive on-the-job training at different work sites. They move from one assignment to another — some short-term, some longer — depending on the particular need of the company in question.

The issues and challenges of each assignment are unique. A person working as a safety consultant must therefore be able to evaluate data and have excellent problem-solving abilities. They must also have good communication skills to present and discuss these findings. Gaining hands-on experience in the field can prepare safety consultants for more complicated projects and jobs.

One of the safety consultant’s most important responsibilities occurs between assignments. A professional in the occupational health field must stay abreast of new safety regulations, as well as with related court decisions. “Not doing so would make them ineffective in offering appropriate advice and recommendations,” the website Career Trend points out. Networking with safety agencies, attending seminars, keeping an active membership in industry organizations, and staying up-to-date in other relevant ways are essential parts of a safety consultant’s success.

Develop the Skills to Become a Safety Consultant

Eastern Kentucky University’s online Master of Science in Safety, Security, and Emergency Management program is designed to show students how to identify safety risks and potential areas of improvement in the areas of occupational safety, corporate security management and emergency management and disaster resilience. This degree can be a stepping-stone to a position as a safety consultant or another occupational health and safety career.

Industry-experienced safety professionals guide students through occupational safety courses, covering modern trends in employee engagement and the establishment of a safety culture in the workplace. Learn more about how the program can help you pursue your professional goals as a safety consultant.

Recommended Readings

The Demand for Safety Professionals in the U.S.

5 Safety Training Resources for Occupational Safety Specialists

The Foundations of Hazard Control

Sources:

Berg Compliance Solutions, Why Hire A Safety Consultant? – OSHA and EHS Compliance

Board of Certified Safety Professionals, Construction Health and Safety Technician Certification

PayScale, Average Safety Consultant Salary

Career Trend, “What Are the Duties of a Safety Consultant?”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians