Certifications are a great way to advance your career, stay up-to-date in your industry, and keep your skills current. Having that three- or four-letter designation after your name can make you more marketable and even help you earn more money.
But which certifications should you pursue? To help you decide, we’ve shortlisted 13 EHS certifications to consider — organized by specialty for easy reference. No matter what your role and interests, you’ll find something here that meets your needs.
Top 13 EHS Certifications to Consider
Certified Safety Professional (CSP) - BCSP
Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) - AIBH
Certified Safety and Health Manager (CSHM) - IHMM
IOSH Level 3 Certificate - IOSH
Certified Professional Ergonomist (CPE) - BCPE
OSHA 30-Hour - OSHA
Qualified Environmental Professional (QEP) - IPEP
- Registered Environmental Manager (REM) - NREP
Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM) - IHMM
Certified Professional Environmental Auditor (CPEA) - BGC
EMS Auditor - CQI/IRCA
Sustainability and Climate Risk (SCR) Certificate - GARP
Associate in Risk Management (ARM) - The Institutes
Best Safety Certifications
The following are the best certifications for safety professionals. They'll help you demonstrate your commitment to workplace health and safety and set you apart from others in your field.
1. Certified Safety Professional (CSP), Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP)
This is the most commonly held license among safety professionals — and for good reason. On average, Certified Safety Professionals are more likely to get hired, earn higher salaries, and receive more promotions and leadership opportunities than their peers, according to the 2020 SH&E Industry Salary Survey. If you’re applying for a new role this year, it’s likely you’ll see the CSP certification on the list of desired qualifications.
2. Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH), American Board of Industrial Hygiene (AIBH)
If you’re looking to advance your career in health and safety, the Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) certification is an excellent choice. The CIH certification is a globally recognized credential that demonstrates your commitment to protecting the health and safety of workers and the community. An added benefit: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, professionals with the CIH or CSP certification earned $30,000 more per year than the average Occupational Health and Safety Specialist.
3. Certified Safety and Health Manager (CSHM), Institute of Hazardous Materials Management (IHMM)
Another popular certification among safety professionals is the CSHM certification. This certification emphasizes both technical knowledge as well as business management skills, so it’s easy to see why professionals with this credential are in high demand. According to IHMM, this certification is ideal for people who are seeking executive positions in their organizations, such as manufacturing, construction, healthcare, education, and more. (The CSHM certification was previously offered by the Institute for Safety and Health Management, which was acquired by the Institute of Hazardous Materials Management.)
4. IOSH Level 3 Certificate, Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH)
If you’ve worked in the field of safety and health for a while, you’ve likely seen the IOSH designation in your colleagues’ email signature or on their business card. IOSH is the world’s largest membership organization for safety and health professionals, and their certifications are among the most widely recognized. IOSH's Level 3 Certificate is a globally recognized qualification that provides an understanding of safety and health in a business context.
5. Certified Professional Ergonomist (CPE), Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics (BCPE)
For human factors/ergonomics/user experience professionals, Board Certification in Professional Ergonomics is the gold standard. BCPE offers one professional certification with a choice of designation: Certified Professional Ergonomist (CPE), Certified Human Factors Professional (CHFP), Certified User Experience Professional. Which designation you choose depends on your specialty and work focus. But no matter which route you decide to go, certification can open the door to new opportunities: HFE salaries are on the rise, and 66% of employers prefer to hire certified professionals.
6. OSHA 30-Hour
While not a true OSHA “certification”, many employers will be looking for the OSHA 30-Hour qualification on your resume. That’s especially true for openings in the construction field, though you’ll also see it in job postings for general industry. Supervisors and safety managers who complete the OSHA Outreach 30-hour course through an authorized trainer will receive an official card from the Department of Labor (DOL).
Best Environmental Certifications
The following certifications are best for environmental professionals. Certification can help you validate your knowledge and skills, improve your core competencies, and bring credibility to your organization.
7. Qualified Environmental Professional (QEP), Institute of Professional Environmental Practice (IPEP)
As an internationally-respected credentialing body, the Institute of Professional Environmental Practice has certified 1500 professionals in 20 countries. Adding the Qualified Environmental Professional (QEP) certification to your resume demonstrates the breadth and depth of your knowledge and experience. Rather than focusing on policies and regulations specific to a certain country, the exam tests environmental professionals' ability to solve "real world problems". For those who have just entered the field, the Environmental Professional In-Training (EPI) certificate offers a first step toward obtaining QEP status.
8. Registered Environmental Manager (REM), National Registry of Environmental Professionals (NREP)
Among environmental professionals, the REM is a popular certification. According to NREP, the certification is recognized by many agencies including the U.S. Postal Service, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service; U.S. Air Force, U.S. Department of Energy, Amtrak, State of Alabama and other state agencies. To be eligible for the certification, you must have at least five years of work experience in the field; recent graduates can consider the Associate Environmental Professional (AEP) certification until you qualify for the REM certification.
9. Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM), Institute of Hazardous Materials Management (IHMM)
Do you deal with hazardous materials or dangerous goods? If so, you might want to consider the Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM) certification. This certification has grown in popularity in recent years, with over 12000 people achieving certification. State and federal agencies, including the US Army Center for Health Promotion & Preventive Medicine and the US National Park Service, seek out professionals with this certification and may even require supervision by a CHMM in their contracts. Many private businesses, too, recognize the value of the CHMM designation.
10. Certified Professional Environmental Auditor (CPEA), Board for Global EHS Credentialing (BGC)
Certified Professional Environmental Auditors conduct compliance audits for utilities, manufacturing facilities, hospitals, universities, municipalities, and more. You can earn your certification in four specialties: Environmental Compliance, Health and Safety, Management Systems, and Responsible Care. Holding the CPEA credential demonstrates your knowledge of environmental, health, and safety regulations and can increase your earning potential up to 51%, according to the IIA’s 2017 Internal Audit Compensation Study. This credential is under the Board of Environmental, Health & Safety Auditor Certifications (BEAC), which was assumed by The Institute of Internal Auditors (The IIA) in 2016 and moved to BGC on June 1, 2020.
11. EMS auditor, CQI/IRCA
Today, many organizations are implementing ISO 14001 environmental management systems as a way to minimize their impacts and grow sustainably. EMS auditor certification prepares auditors and environmental system managers to audit environmental management systems against ISO 14001 requirements, either as a third- or second-party auditor. The course takes five days to complete and is available from a number of training partners.
Best EHS Risk & Sustainability Certifications
The following certifications are designed for professionals with a risk management background. They will prepare you assess potential hazards, manage risks, and seize new opportunities,
12. Sustainability and Climate Risk (SCR) Certificate, Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP)
If climate risk management is a priority for your organization, check out the GARP SCR certificate. GARP is the leading globally recognized membership association for risk managers. Its new sustainability and climate risk certificate will help risk professionals prepare for change and lead their organization's incorporation of sustainability standards.
13. Associate in Risk Management (ARM), The Institutes
To thrive in today’s business climate, EHS professionals have to get really good at managing risks. In fact, 78% of EHS leaders name “risk management” as a top factor in ensuring EHS success. So it’s worth strongly considering the Associate in Risk Management (ARM) certification. The certification, which takes between 9-15 months, is designed for anyone who makes decisions based on risk. After completing your training, you’ll be better prepared to anticipate and manage risks in your organization.
Your next steps
Even if you’re not looking for a new job, now is a great time to add a professional certification to your resume. Certification offers numerous career benefits. Getting certified shows your employers and your peers that you’re serious about your work, and can help you do your job more effectively. What’s more, many of these certifications can be completed online — which means you can advance your career without leaving the comfort of your couch.
Tell us in the comments below: Do you hold a professional certification? If so, how has it helped you achieve your career goals? If not, do you plan to pursue certification in the future? Next, discover 7 EHS manager skills to develop this year.
Note: This post was originally published in April 2020 and was updated April 8 2021 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.