EHS professionals, as the name implies, wear a lot of hats. You have to be knowledgeable about safe work practices and OSHA requirements.
At the same time, you’re expected to know about EPA and local regulations, permitting requirements, chemical management, and ISO 14001 — to name a few!
From comments on social media and our own conversations, we’re sensing that many EHS professionals are confident in the safety aspect of EHS but don’t feel as comfortable with environmental management.
It makes sense: Environmental management changes a lot faster than safety, with new regulations and voluntary requirements popping up every day. And, most people’s training focused heavily on safety, with a lot less emphasis on the environmental side of things.
But the more you learn and understand something, the more confident you’ll feel about it. So we’ve compiled a list of the best opportunities — listed in order from most to least time commitment required — to learn more about the “E” in EHS:
1. Take an online course
Looking to brush up on your skills without going back to school? You might want to check out an online course. Online courses are typically more concise than college courses, more affordable (or free!), and give you the freedom to learn at your own pace. Some are offered by universities, while others are taught by businesses or experts in the field.
Here are a few places to check out courses:
Many accredited universities also offer credits or even full degree programs online, if that’s something you’re interested in. We’ve seen fully online degree programs in environmental policy, environmental management, and sustainability — to name a few.
2. Get a certification
Certifications are a great way to not only learn about your field, but also make yourself more marketable. With the increased focus on environmental management and sustainability, a certification will help get your resume to the top of the pile.
For example, earning the EMS Auditor certification from CQI/IRCA will prepare you to audit an organization’s ISO 14001 environmental management system, either as a second- or third-party auditor. This could be invaluable if you’ve been tasked with auditing your organization’s suppliers for ISO 14001, for example, or if you want to make yourself more attractive to prospective employers.
3. Attend a conference
Conferences are a great opportunity to network and learn about best practices in environmental management. You’ll hear presentations from people in your industry so you can see what companies like yours are doing. And, you’ll participate in breakout sessions where you can discuss common issues and brainstorm ideas with your colleagues.
Here are a few environmental management conferences to check out:
- NAEM Sustainability Impact Conference
- EUEC Annual Energy, Utility & Environment Conference
- A&WMA Annual Conference
- Midwest Environmental Compliance Conference
- International Conference on Waste Management and Environmental Technology
4. Join a professional association
Like conferences, professional associations are a great way to stay on top of what’s new and next in environmental management. Associations typically offer conferences, webinars, and other professional development opportunities for their members. And, you may be able to take advantage of members-only benefits like mentoring programs and online communities to support your professional growth.
Some associations are geared toward EHS generalists, but there are also specific associations for environmental professionals you may want to consider:
- Air & Waste Management Association (AWMA)
- National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP)
- National Environmental Health Association (NEHA)
5. Sign up for a webinar
Like online courses, webinars offer a convenient way to brush up on your skills from the comfort of your home. The difference is that webinars are live events and are usually shorter and less in-depth online courses, so they’re perfect if you only have an hour or two. And webinars are usually free, since they’re often sponsored by an organization that’s promoting a product or service. Webinars are a good way to learn about what others are doing in your field as well as discover new tools that can help you do your job more effectively.
Many professional organizations offer webinars to their members. And, if you subscribe to newsletters from industry blogs, you’ll usually receive an email when a webinar is coming up. If you can’t catch the webinar at the scheduled time, some hosts will share a recording after the event is over — but you’ll miss out on the discussion and FAQ session, so we highly recommend calling in to the live event if at all possible.
Watch our joint webinar with Trinity Consultants, "ISO 14001:2015: Managing Compliance with the Standard"
6. Listen to a podcast
Short on time? Podcasts are a great way to stay on top of what’s happening in environmental management and sustainability without a huge time commitment. You can listen to podcasts while during your commute, or pop in your earbuds and go for a walk around the neighborhood.
With over more than 850,000 active podcasts today, there’s something for everyone including EHS professionals — but finding a good podcast to listen to isn’t always easy. You will probably need to listen to at least one episode to find out if you like it. And, if you run out of episodes, you’ll need to start your search all over again.
To save you some time, we’ve compiled a list of seven sustainability podcasts that are worth checking out.
7. Read a blog
Blogs are a convenient way to catch up on news, trends, and best practices. Articles are usually short and to-the-point, taking only a few minutes to read. They’re usually written by someone in the industry the blog is focused on. And, they’re updated regularly, making them a great way to discover new ideas and thought leadership in the field of environmental management.
To help you curate your reading list, we've compiled a list of the best EHS blogs to follow for education, news, trends, and more. Many of the blogs offer the option to subscribe and get new posts directly to your inbox so you don’t miss anything.