Embarking on a career in health and safety can be a rewarding journey, but knowing where to start and what employers are looking for can be challenging. In this article, we will discuss three crucial elements – Attitude, Knowledge/Skills, and Experience – that can set you on the right path to success in the field of health and safety.
1. Attitude: Soft Skills Matter:
- Soft skills, often referred to as attitude, play a pivotal role in the health and safety profession.
- Persuasion, interpersonal relationships, credibility, and trust are essential for effective communication and collaboration.
- Health and safety professionals need to be adept at managing upwards, convincing higher-ups about the importance of safety initiatives, and managing downwards, ensuring that staff follows proper procedures.
- Selling health and safety often involves showcasing the absence of negative outcomes, making soft skills indispensable.
2. Knowledge/Skills: Investing in Education:
- Technical skills, or what is commonly known as Knowledge and Skills in health and safety, are crucial for success.
- Attending a reputable training course, such as the NEBOSH qualification, is recommended.
- NEBOSH or equivalent certifications are often listed as essential requirements in job listings.
- The investment of time, effort, and, in some cases, finances is necessary to bridge the knowledge and skills gap.
3. Experience: Navigating the Catch-22:
- Gaining experience can be challenging, especially when employers often seek experienced candidates.
- Voluntary work might not be the most effective way to gain quality experience, as it often involves mundane tasks.
- Consider negotiating with your current employer for a role transition or look for entry-level positions in health and safety.
- Freelancing is an alternative, allowing you to offer basic health and safety consultancy services to small businesses and gain valuable experience.
4. Navigating the Job Market: Entry-Level Opportunities:
- In health and safety, the applicant pool is different from other fields, with fewer entry-level applicants.
- Consider starting at a lower level, such as a health and safety technician, before moving up to mid-level positions.
- Recognise that top-level positions are scarce and often require a rare combination of knowledge, skill, and experience.
5. Freelancing: Building Experience Independently:
- Freelancing as a health and safety consultant is a viable option post-NEBOSH qualification.
- Start with basic services for small businesses, gradually building a portfolio.
- Confidence and a realistic assessment of your capabilities are crucial to freelancing success.
Developing the right attitude, acquiring the necessary knowledge and skills, and strategically gaining experience are key components for a successful career in health and safety. Recognise the unique dynamics of the health and safety job market, and tailor your approach accordingly.
Whether entering at an entry level, negotiating a role transition, or freelancing, a proactive and strategic approach will set you on the path to a fulfilling career in health and safety. By focusing on these three pillars – Attitude, Knowledge/Skills, and Experience – aspiring health and safety professionals can navigate the complexities of the field and build a foundation for long-term success.