The Certified Safety Professional (CSP) designation is administered by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP). The credential intended to recognize an expert within the field and let the rest of the world know that the certified individual has gone above and beyond to prove his abilities and knowledge.
A CSP is a professional that works to create and implement safety policies throughout various industries. With the added certification, a professional is recognized as having met the high educational and experience standards necessary to successfully pass rigorous examinations to earn the highly coveted designation. Experts with the CSB designation are sought after by government agencies and potential employers. CSP designees usually earn higher salaries than their non-certified counterparts. Additionally, those who have earned the designation are not only well educated and knowledgeable, but they are up-to-date and current on all recent trends, developments and practices within the safety field.
Safety professionals must submit a completed application and a non-refundable fee in order to take the first step toward CSP certification. The application includes information about one’s education and professional business experience. The BCSP reviews submitted applications and makes eligibility determinations based on the submitted information. Qualified candidates are notified of their eligibility and are given the approval to take the Safety Fundamentals examination. Candidates who pass the Safety Fundamentals Examination will be approved to take the Comprehensive Practice Examination, which leads to certification.
Registering for the Safety Fundamentals examination is the next step to certification. BCSP notifies candidates of the eligibility window they have in which to register for the examination. Registration may be made by phone or online. Candidates must pay for the examination at the time of enrollment. Test centers are located all over the world, and a test may be scheduled on any given business day, which makes it convenient for busy professionals.
During the registration process, candidates are required to pick an exam date and time. Test centers are open each business day, so an exam may be scheduled anytime that the test center is open for business. Tests are administered through a computer-based process. As a candidate prepares to leave the test center after the examination is complete, unofficial test scores will be available immediately. Official results will be mailed within 3 weeks.
(This includes both the Safety Fundamentals and the Comprehensive Practice Examinations.) Passage of both examinations ensure certification, as long as all other eligibility qualifications are met. Candidates who fail to pass either examination may take the test again, as long as he or she re-registers and pays an examination fee.
Candidates are required to pay an annual renewal fee each year in order to continue his or her designation as a CSP. Twenty-five recertification points are required to renew a designation every 5 years. Recertification points involve continuing education credits, attendance at seminars and conventions and other activities approved by the BCSP. Recertification points are required to ensure that the CSP stays up to date and current on new trends, policies and activities that apply to safety.
Benefits of the CSP Designation
The Certified Safety Professional (CSP) distinction is a credential earned through one’s educational and professional experiences, in addition to being able to pass a rigorous examination evaluating one’s overall and specific knowledge about the safety profession and industry. CSP designees work in several industries, but they all do the same thing: promote and encourage safety in all environments.
Gaining the CSP certification earns a safety professional more respect and credibility among their peers, colleagues and supervisors. The credential is recognized worldwide and represents professional integrity, expertise and knowledge. The credential may be used on business cards, name badges and other items to let clients and colleagues know that a professional has gone the extra mile to become the best safety professional he or she can become.
As a CSP, a safety professional guarantees himself or herself a place in the global competition. The workforce is getting more and more competitive, but CSP designees who hold the credentials and experience are preferred by many employers. Many times, CSP designees are required for government and private contracts due to their high levels of expertise and abilities. Nearly 75 percent of the safety profession leaders currently hold the CSP designation.
Benefits of the CSP Designation
CSP designees gain salary earnings as a result of their certifications. According to the American Industrial Hygiene Association, experts holding the CSP designation are paid approximately $24,000 more per year than their non-certified counterparts. The salaries of the CSP adds over $150 million to the salary base of standard safety professionals.
The CSP credential is recognized by not only the United States government, but by other countries and territories, as well. CSP designees are mentioned several times in local, state and federal laws and mandates. Additionally, the credential is recognized by both the U.S. and several foreign safety and health organizations. The overall mission and goals of the CSP coincide with the aims of many foreign nations.
Better career opportunities are realized as a result of becoming credentialed as a CSP. According to the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP), many top management and executive positions are filled with CSP designees, and increase roles of responsibility are filled by CSP experts.
Professionals who are certified as CSPs often report higher job performance after becoming certified. They indicate that their increased knowledge and credentials give them the confidence to do things in their careers they would never consider before. Not only are they more confident, but they are more effective and make fewer mistakes.
CSP designees are more up-to-date and current with important trends and practices. Every 5 years, CSP designees must renew their certifications with additional educational opportunities, which helps them to learn about up and coming advances within the safety industry.
The networking opportunities offered to CSP designees is valuable to success as a professional. Being able to communicate with other professionals who are experts may aid a CSP in troubleshooting problems, expands their ideas concerning new trends and practices and provides them with feedback about questionable situations or concepts.
CSP Eligibility Requirements
There are several eligibility qualifications that must be met in order for a candidate to acquire certification as a Certified Safety Professional (CSP). Qualifications include stringent education backgrounds and professional safety experience that must meet specific criteria. The process calculates points appointed to various qualifications in order to determine one’s eligibility.
Academic requirements are only part of the process of becoming a CSP. However, they are very important to the entire application process. Candidates wishing to become a CSP must have a bachelor’s degree or higher in any field or possess an associate’s degree in safety, environment or health. U.S. degrees held by candidates must be from accredited schools within the United States. The accrediting body for the schools must be accepted and listed by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the U.S. Department of Education. International degrees must be evaluated as equivalent to the standards of an American degree program. Official transcripts and other documents may be needed to provide proof of education.
Candidates must demonstrate professional safety experiences from the real world. Professional safety experiences may include work in any of the following industries: radiation protection, safety, environment protection, fire protection, health, ergonomics, industrial hygiene and others. Any work claimed as professional safety experiences must meet five separate criteria set forth by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP). The five criteria are:
- Professional safety must be the overall goal or objective of the position held by the candidate.
- The candidate’s previous position’s aim must have been to prevent harm and to keep people safe. Simply responding to dangers and reacting by trying to keep people safe is not meeting the standard. The position must have been proactively keeping people from harm.
- Safety functions must have accounted for at least 50 percent (or more) of the candidate’s job duties.
- The candidate’s previous position must have been at the professional level and entailed a certain degree of planning, strategizing, analyzing and managing.
- The professional safety experience must have had a variety of aspects to the position’s duties including communicating, marketing, investigating, implementing and designing.
A candidate’s professional experience must have been in a supervisory capacity of some sort and entailed the planning of and implementation of safety systems and policies.
Eligibility is figured through points that are awarded to each educational experience and professional position held. The BCSP regulate and determine how points are dispersed based on individual items. Forty-eight points are required for a candidate to be eligible to sit for the Safety Fundamentals examination. A candidate who earns at least 96 points may forego taking the Safety Fundamentals examination and move directly to taking the Comprehensive Practice Examination.
The last portion of eligibility requirements for the CSP designation include two personal references that must be submitted with a candidate’s application. The references must be able to speak for the candidate’s professional safety experiences and his or her moral character. Self-employed candidates may utilize their clients as references, as necessary.
CSP Examination Expectations
The Certified Safety Professionals (CSP) examinations are closely regulated and entail certain procedures for check-in, what’s allowed in the testing center and how breaks are taken. It’s important to know what to expect when a candidate shows up to take an examination for his or her certification through the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP).
CSP Examination ExpectationsCandidates must schedule a time to sit for the examination within the Examination Authorization period. The Examination Authorization period lasts for 120 days, and candidates are expected to schedule and sit for an examination during the timeframe. However, once in a while, a candidate has difficulty getting the test scheduled during this time frame. An extension may be purchased for an additional one-time, 60 day extension. Candidates are expected to take the examination during this time period.
Scheduling the examination is relatively simple, as there are testing centers across the world. Testing is conducted on every business day, and examinations may be scheduled via the Internet of the telephone. Online scheduling requires the Candidate Identification Number that is printed on the Examination Authorization letter. Phone scheduling requires candidates contact regional testing centers, instead of local test sites.
Any candidate who has special needs for the examination (use a wheelchair or hearing aid, for example) must designate this during the registration and scheduling of the examination. If needs arise later due to injury or illness, the test site should be contacted immediately.
Candidates are advised to arrive early. Anyone arriving at the test site later than 15 minutes past the scheduled time may be turned away and forced to forfeit their test appointment and their testing fee.
Identification is required at the time of check in. Candidates are required to present to the test administrator a valid, current government-issued identification that includes both a photograph and a signature. The name on the ID must match identically to the name used to set the test appointment. If a candidate arrives without an ID, he or she automatically forfeits his or her testing appointment and testing fee.
When a candidate checks into the testing site, he or she is given scratch paper. A calculator is allowed in the test center, but it must be investigated by the test site administrator. Specific calculators are accepted for use at the test site, including:
- Casio models FX-115, -250, -260, or -300
- Hewlett Packard models hp 9, 10, 12, or 30
- Texas Instruments models TI-30, -34, -35, -36
Candidates need to be warned to leave the books, notes, papers, purses, hats, jackets, coats, cell phones, pagers and laptops (among other items) at home during the examination. Candidates are allowed to access medicines, food or drinks and tobacco during self-scheduled breaks. However, test takers are not permitted to leave the building during the self-scheduled breaks.
Test takers must take the computer-based examination. Those taking the Safety Fundamentals examination have up to 5 hours to complete the test; test takers for the Comprehensive Practice receive 5.5 hours to take the exam.
After completing the examination, candidates are prompted to take a short survey. After the survey is completed, the unofficial test results pop up on the screen. Official results are sent to the test taker later.
CSP Examination Preparation
Because passage of the Certified Safety Professional (CSP) examinations is essential to the certification process, it’s important for candidates to create a study plan to pass both the Safety Fundamentals examination and the Comprehensive Practice examination. Knowing the test content and developing study habits that will ensure success are necessary components to being prepared for the exams.
The Safety Fundamentals examination includes 200 multiple choice questions that must be answered within 5 hours. Scores are based on the number of questions answered correctly, so candidates are encouraged to answer all questions, despite knowing for certain that his or her answer will be correct. As a computer based examination, candidates may flag questions that they wish to go back and review.
The examination consists of seven domains of content that candidates are expected to know in order to pass the examination. The seven domains are:
- Domain 1: Mathematics (18 percent of the examination) — This domain covers several topics including electrical calculations, statistics, financial principles, physics calculations in addition to other forms of calculations.
- Domain 2: Safety Management Systems (23 percent of the examination) — Domain 2 contains in test questions concerned with management processes, risk management, system and fleet safety and project management.
- Domain 3: Ergonomics (13 percent of the examination) — Doman 3 covers subjects about human factors, measurement and monitoring, and controls.
- Domain 4: Fire Prevention and Protection (11 percent of the examination) — Domain 4 evaluates fire and explosion hazards, fire controls, and fire emergency management.
- Domain 5: Occupational Health (11 percent of the examination) — This domain covers several topics including physical, chemical, and biological hazards and controls.
- Domain 6: Environmental Management (15 percent of the examination) — Domain 6 contains in test questions concerned with environmental hazards, administrative controls, engineering controls and hazardous waste storage and disposal.
- Domain 7: Training, Education, and Communication (9 percent of the examination) — Doman 9 covers subjects about communication and group dynamics and training and education methods.
The second test that is required for certification as a CSP is the Comprehensive Practice examination. Just like the Safety Fundamentals exam, the Comprehensive Practice test has 200 multiple choice questions and includes content that may be divided into 9 main domains for studying purposes. The nine domains include:
- Domain 1: Advanced Science and Math (7.4 percent of the examination) — Domain 1 includes six tasks (and complementing knowledge) which include the core concepts of anatomy and physiology, chemistry, physics, and statistics.
- Domain 2: Management Systems (19.5 percent of the examination) — Doman 2 addresses the evaluation of organizational culture, investigation techniques, health and safety plans, management leadership techniques, and project management concepts.
- Domain 3: Risk Management (10.3 percent of the examination) — Domain 3 includes the design of risk management methods to eliminate risks; behavior modification techniques; hazard analysis methods; the risk assessment processes.
- Domain 4: Advanced Safety Concepts (22.9 percent of the examination) — Domain 4 includes tasks which include the administrative controls, chemical process; data management system design; collection of information by risk factor through study of socioeconomic conditions and other factors; and research for assessment of safety.
- Domain 5: Emergency Preparedness, Fire Prevention, and Security (9.1 percent of the examination) — Doman 5 addresses the fire prevention and protection systems; fire supression systems; and the transportation and security of hazardous recognition and prevention techniques among knowledge of other subjects .
- Domain 6: Occupational Health and Ergonomics (8.0 percent of the examination) — Domain 6 includes the basic toxiology principles; ergonomics and human facotr principles; fundamentals of epidermiology; and evaluating occupational exposures.
- Domain 7: Environmental Management Systems (6.3 percent of the examination) — Domain 7 includes four tasks which include the environmental protection and pollution prevention methods, hazardous waste management practices; sustainability principles; and how released hazardous materials migrate.
- Domain 8: Training/Education (9.1 percent of the examination) — Doman 8 addresses the evaluation of training requirements; effective presentation techniques; education and training methods and techniques; and methods for determining the effectiveness of training programs.
- Domain 9: Law and Ethics (7.4 percent of the examination) — Domain 9 includes the knowledge of BCSP code of ethics; relationship between labor and management; standards development processes; and legal issues.
Candidates may choose various methods to study for each of these exams. Possible study methods include independent study, formal review courses, study groups and taking practice examinations.