Do you want a job that could save lives? A diverse career offering opportunity and progression? Then occupational safety and health, or ‘OSH’, is a great choice.
OSH professionals are enablers. They help workers return home safe and well every day – and they’re in demand in virtually every country and industry.
It’s no wonder they’re passionate about what they do.
What is health and safety?
Let’s start with the basics.
Almost two million workers still die unnecessarily each year, according to World Health Organization/International Labour Organization figures. Many more are made ill through carrying out their daily duties. Health and safety is all about protecting people from accidents, injuries and health problems in the workplace, as well as promoting positive mental health and wellbeing.
OSH professionals help guide organisations to comply with laws that govern health and safety – but they do so much more. They also help embed a safe working culture and positively impact workers’ daily lives.
Duties vary, but OSH professionals may cover:
- safe use of machinery
- mental health and wellbeing
- fire safety
- control of hazardous substances
- emergency preparedness and response.
And they collaborate with relevant teams on a range of tasks, such as:
- creating or developing health and safety policies/procedures
- carrying out risk assessments
- reporting, recording and investigating incidents
- advising on protective clothing and equipment
- inspections and auditing.
Read more about why health and safety is important in the workplace.
Is health and safety a good career?
An OSH career can take you anywhere in the world, in industries as varied as aviation, construction, education, food and drink, and oil and gas.
It’s an established yet dynamic profession that responds to the changing environment and embraces technological advances.
Typical progression could see you go from a health, safety and environment officer, or health, safety and wellbeing adviser, to senior adviser and then manager. You may also choose to move into consultancy or training/education.
These opportunities, along with salary potential, make it a great first-choice career, as well as a viable option for anyone considering a career change.
Many people successfully transition to a second career in OSH, with the Armed Forces, construction/site management, engineering, education and manufacturing/production among common previous areas of work. That’s because of the wealth of transferable skills they have gained.
Read more about why you should choose health and safety as a career.
What qualifications do I need?
OSH professionals are well-rounded and need both technical knowledge as well as core and behavioural skills, including communication, digital literacy, listening skills, problem solving, conflict management and creativity.
There are multiple routes into OSH and these vary globally, so check your country for specific requirements or speak to a careers advisor.
If you’re starting your journey from school/college, you may choose an apprenticeship, vocational qualification or university degree. IOSH accredits a variety of programmes/qualifications around the world – and eligible learners on these programmes can become IOSH Student Members.
For anyone wanting to understand OSH as part of a wider role, an awareness course such as IOSH Working Safely® will give you the basics.
Read more about which qualification you should get.
What can I do with my degree/qualifications or experience?
Start your OSH career! You don’t need to have studied a specific subject, but if you’ve taken the following degrees, you may have covered aspects of OSH:
- environment, environmental health, science or management
- wellbeing and public health
- civil and environmental engineering
- food safety, occupational hygiene, food and nutrition
- nuclear engineering
- biomedical engineering.
Read how Chamila Perera landed her first OSH job, along with stories from other IOSH members who are in the early stages of their careers.
Start your journey to health and safety excellence
Joining IOSH – the world’s largest Chartered body for health and safety professionals – will give you a powerful professional advantage. We offer a range of membership categories to suit you at every stage of your career, including those new to OSH. You’ll be able to access multiple member benefits, all designed to help you learn, develop and achieve.