Membership grades review

Read the latest updates on the membership grades review

Since October 2019, in consultation with members and other key stakeholders, we have been conducting a review of our membership grades. As a result of this consultation, a number of changes and enhancements were proposed to our grades structure and, at our AGM in October 2020, members voted in favour of the Special Resolution resulting in minor changes to the Byelaws.

IOSH has since submitted a formal request to Privy Council and has been required to make some further amends to its Regulations and Byelaws on ensuring 100% of members applying through the Experiential Route to Chartered status are assessed by peer interview. This adds increased rigour to the changes Corporate Members voted upon at the AGM last year under the Special Resolution. 

As is the case for many other organisations, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has forced IOSH to take important decisions and steps to adjust, pause and delay some of our planned system implementations, prioritising work that ensures a continuity of service and support to our members, partners, customers, and staff.

In light of this, and as we are still awaiting Privy Council outcome, implementing the changes to the membership grades will be later than anticipated.

Important work continues at pace in the background and good progress has been made on the systems and content required to implement the changes, with extensive user testing planned soon.

Once we receive an outcome from our Privy Council submission, we will be in a more favourable position to confirm launch timings and provide an update on other key developments including the Ethics Certificate, Blueprint 2.0, the new CPD scheme and the associated assessment and transition processes. These are all progressive developments which will significantly enhance the way we support members through their careers.

Got any questions? Have a read through the membership grades review FAQs.

To find out more about the final membership grades structure, please click on the link below.


Membership grades review FAQs

What does this review mean for my membership status?

Is this going to affect my progression through the grades? Should I wait to upgrade? 

No. Whatever grade you are at now, please don’t stop what you are doing as all the knowledge and skills you acquire will be relevant. For more information on how to upgrade your membership, please email professional.development@iosh.com or call us on +44 (0)116 2573198.

I’m a Chartered Member – might I lose my status? 

Only if you don’t complete your 30 hours of CPD annually and complete the Ethics Certificate.  

I see that Certified and Chartered Members would need a Level 6 or 7 qualification respectively. Have I understood this correctly?

No. Entry to Certified Membership will be via an appropriate OSH qualification (level 6 or 7) and relevant experience OR APEL through evidence of relevant knowledge and experience. The process to Chartered Membership builds upon the Certified member’s current knowledge, understanding and experience through a supported development process (replacing current IPD). in addition, for those members with significant current knowledge, understanding and experience, they can take the proposed experiential route for Certified and Chartered.

I am currently an Associate Member, but I understand this grade is in line for deletion. Why is this and what are my options?

Associate members currently represent a very small proportion (just over 1%) of IOSH members and the grade is not widely recognised or understood. Most Associate Members would be eligible to upgrade to Technical Member or Certified Member based on qualifications and experience. If you would like to explore this option now, please email professional.development@iosh.com.

Why are you changing the name for Graduate Member?

We are doing this because widespread feedback from members, employers and recruiters indicated that the name is misleading, suggesting a lower level of OSH professional. In fact, many Graduate Members are highly experienced. We would therefore expect a significant proportion of current Graduate Members to be eligible for Chartered status. We proposed Certified as one of a number of alternatives in our May 2020 survey and the majority of respondents agreed that it was a suitable replacement. Since then, the Board of Trustees have agreed that the new membership grades and entry requirements should be implemented.

I am a retired member of IOSH. Would my membership status be affected if the changes you’re proposing are approved?

No. Retired membership will continue as it stands today and you will be recognised as a retired member no longer active.

I'm currently a practicing retired member. Do I need to maintain CPD and the Ethics Certificate?

Yes. If the proposed changes are approved and you wish to continue practicing, you would need to maintain your CPD and Ethics Certificate. We'd provide you with a transition plan and support you through this during the 12-month transition period.

What does transition mean?

Transition is the process of moving from the current membership grades structure to the new membership grades structure. From the date on which the new grades are launched, there will be a 12-month transition period which will enable members to update their CPD and ethics certificate, if required.

How will I know what I need to do during the 12-month transition period, in order to retain my membership?

When the new membership grades structure is implemented, every member will receive a communication outlining their personal transition plan. This plan will set out their individual requirements for the 12-month transition period. 

I’m an Honorary Fellow. Will I automatically become a Companion of IOSH?

We’re working on a transition plan for each grade, but this change requires an amendment to our Byelaws. Members voted to approve this change and other changes to our Byelaws at the AGM, and we will now seek approval from Privy Council. If Privy Council approve the changes, we’ll submit the detailed transition plan to the Board for approval and share it with members as soon as we can. Until then, please bear with us.

Why have you introduced a new membership grade called Companion?

‘Companion of IOSH’ is, in fact, an award, not a grade. In the past there has been confusion between Chartered Fellow and Honorary Fellow. We are recommending the change from ‘Honorary Fellow’ to ‘Companion’ because we want to make a clear distinction between the grade - Chartered Fellow - and the honorary position of ‘Companion'. It was not easy to identify an alternative to ‘Honorary Fellow', but our benchmarking found that a number of professional bodies use ‘Companion’ and we feel it is an effective title.


Assessing competency and experience

How will competency be assessed?

Competency will be assessed through Blueprint 2.0, the next generation of our self-assessment tool, which will be mapped to the updated competency framework. When you’ve worked through the self-assessment, you’ll receive a Personal Development Plan to help you prioritise your learning. You’ll also be signposted to guides and resources to help you. Ultimately, Blueprint 2.0 will be central to a greatly improved professional journey, giving you seamless access to development resources and auto-populating parts of your CPD record. More information about this will follow soon.

When will Blueprint 2.0 launch?

Once we receive an outcome from our Privy Council submission, we will be in a more favourable position to confirm launch timings and provide an update on the Blueprint 2.0 tool and other key developments. Important background work, with our systems, processes and content, is progressing at pace and we will keep members updated on progress.

Blueprint will be new to a lot of members. How will you introduce and explain it?

We recognise that communication is key in supporting users and explaining how the enhanced Blueprint will benefit their professional journey. Prior to launch, we will pilot it with a cohort of members and use feedback to inform our approach to resources, such as explainer videos and FAQs. Rest assured we are planning in the necessary resource to help members adopt Blueprint.

What is the competency framework and how will it affect my progression through the grades?

The IOSH competency framework sets out the competencies required by OSH professionals today at different stages in their career. It was updated in 2019 and covers 12 areas of competency in three categories – technical, core and behavioural. Your Blueprint self-assessment will inform your Personal Development Plan which will, in turn, drive your progress through the grades.

How will I know which competencies I need at what level for my grade?

The competencies will be mapped to the new membership grades and built into Blueprint 2.0. The methodology that will be used to map the competencies to the grades is explained in the final membership grade structure, which can be found on the page above.

Do I need to be able to demonstrate all 69 competencies?

Not necessarily. The answer will depend on the grade you’re at, or targeting. As explained in the document with the final membership structure, in most instances, the standard will require a combination of ‘essential’ and ‘complementary’ competencies. You’ll need to be able to demonstrate the ‘essential competencies’ on entry to the grade. ‘Complementary competencies’ will be for development, to prepare you for the next grade, if you wish to progress.

What does ‘competency at RQF level’ mean?

This refers to the ‘Regulated Qualifications Framework’ which categorises qualifications in England, based on the level of challenge or difficulty. Other countries or regions have regulated frameworks such as Malaysia, South Africa and UAE and these have comparisons with the English and European qualifications frameworks so it is easy to see where IOSH fits locally. Links to information about qualification levels in Scotland, Wales and Europe can be found via www.gov.uk.

How will experience be assessed?

This review of membership grades is all about maintaining standards and enhancing the sector, so we’ve given careful consideration to the assessment of experience. The recommendation for a new experiential route to Chartered Membership is designed to remove a barrier to entry for OSH professionals who are already operating in a senior strategic role within OSH management, and have extensive on-the-job experience, but might not have an OSH qualification. The assessment process would combine the new Blueprint 2.0 self-assessment with CPD and completion of IOSH’s Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) assessment. This rigorous approach would ensure that only candidates with evidence of the appropriate knowledge, competence and experience are approved for entry.

What is APEL?

Accredited Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) assessment is our proposed approach to assessing experience. It is a process where credit is given for learning which has not previously been assessed and accredited by an academic institution (typically a University) or professional organisation such as IOSH. It is learning acquired from a range of experiences and is often unstructured, personal and unconsciously gained. Skills, knowledge and abilities that come with this type of learning, however, can be equal to those gained by students following traditional courses through formal educational institutions.

How will IOSH’s APEL be assessed?

We do not know the detail for this yet however, typically, a candidate’s knowledge is assessed via a work portfolio, professional discussion paper or interview with a subject expert.

I’d like to enter via the experiential route at Chartered, using the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning Assessment (APEL). Will I also need to complete Blueprint?

Yes. Blueprint will be the first step for all applicants/members. The self-assessment will provide an initial indication of what your membership journey could be. One route could be the APEL assessment and the process will direct you from there. The experiential route to Chartered is subject to a change to our Byelaws so we await Privy Council’s decision on this.



Will IOSH CPD be affected by the membership grades review?

Only in a positive way, because as part of our work to enhance the way we support professional development, we will be launching a new CPD scheme and system, aligned with our updated competency framework. CPD will remain a mandatory process which must be completed by members whose grades have a mandatory requirement of 30 hours annual CPD. We encourage members to keep their CPD updated on the current platform, until the new system will be introduced. More information will be provided well in advance of any changes.

What will I have to do to maintain my CPD?

In the new structure, Blueprint will help you focus on your learning, development and progression. You’ll need to complete 30 hours of CPD annually, to include reflective statements. If you are a Chartered Member or Chartered Fellow, your CPD would also include passing or maintaining the IOSH Ethics Certificate. This will all be held in Blueprint.

What will happen if I do not complete the required CPD?

We are keen to avoid sanctions where possible, and will therefore support members through their transition plan, to complete the required CPD. However, in order to maintain standards, there will be sanctions for members who do not maintain their CPD record. In the new, approved structure, Technical Members, Certified Members, Chartered Members and Chartered Fellows, who do not complete the required CPD will revert to Affiliate unless there are mitigating circumstances.

Why would such senior grades have to drop back as far as Affiliate if they fail to complete the required CPD? Why can’t they just drop one grade?

CPD is a professional requirement for Technical, Certified, Chartered and Chartered Fellows, as set out in IOSH’s byelaws and regulations. It remains mandatory and, in the new structure, involves 30 hours of development time every year. In order to maintain the standard, members at these grades who do not comply with CPD requirements will need to revert to a level of membership where it is not a mandatory requirement, hence Affiliate. Of course, if a member is struggling to complete their CPD for personal reasons, we would encourage them to get in touch before it becomes a pressing issue, so we can provide support and discuss the way ahead.

You state that 30 hours of CPD per year will be required for all post nominal grades. This seems a lot to ask. How does it compare with other Chartered bodies?

Our benchmarking research indicates that the CPD time commitment for other bodies ranges from 20 to 50 hours per year. Every organisation structures it slightly differently but we believe 30 hours is a suitable commitment to ensure continuing professional development.

Does IOSH have specific CPD courses in mind that are required for the various levels of membership?

No. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is a lifelong process of improvement through recognising, recording and reflecting on learning experiences. Relevant CPD will be different for all members. Guidance and support will be provided with the launch of the new CPD scheme and there'll be a range of CPD resources to support the new competencies, many of which will be available through the new version of Blueprint.

Can I still register for IPD and how will my IPD be affected by the proposed changes?

Yes, you can still register on the existing IPD process.

To ensure you are given the fullest opportunity to complete the process you have registered for, and to minimise disruption to members registering and working through IPD, a final deadline date will be set. If you’re not able to complete by the specified date, you would need to be assessed against the new standard, using Blueprint 2.0.

As we move closer towards launching Blueprint 2.0, we are likely to pause registrations so members can transition to, and benefit from, the new system. We will update this FAQ in timings in due course.


Proposed ethics certificate

I see you are planning to introduce a new Ethics Certificate. What does this involve and why is it only applicable for Chartered and Fellows?

Work to scope this would form part of the implementation phase of the review. Ethical practice is extremely important for all OSH professionals in ensuring public trust and upholding the reputation of the profession. We are looking to make this a requirement for our Chartered Members and Chartered Fellows in particular, as we expect them to lead the profession by demonstrating the highest standards of professional conduct at work and in their dealings with the public. More information will be developed as we start to shape and build the new processes. 

Why do you feel the need to introduce an Ethics Certificate when ethics are already covered in the Code of Conduct?

The IOSH Code of Conduct commits members to the IOSH vision for a world of work that is safe, healthy and sustainable. It provides an ethical foundation for members working towards this vision. The IOSH Ethics Certificate, which is supported by e-learning, will provide members with up to date and relevant content on ethical considerations that affect organisations and the OSH profession in the widest sense.

Will I have to pay for the Ethics Certificate?

As mentioned above, we have not developed this yet. We envisage that it would be part of your CPD package at no additional charge but cannot confirm that yet. As soon as we have more information, we will share it with members.



Will I need to acquire new qualifications to stay Chartered?

No. However, we are currently reviewing all IOSH-accredited qualifications, as part of our WORK 2022 strategy.  Now the membership structure has been agreed, we’ll need to map qualifications to the new grades, to ensure they’re aligned. If any gaps are identified, we would support enrolled learners through a transition plan to help them meet the new requirements. In the meantime, we would also work with the relevant accredited partner to align the qualification for the future.

I’m part-way through a qualification. Will it still be accepted if the proposed changes are approved?

Yes. So, if you’re studying a course aligned with your level of membership, don’t stop! As mentioned above, we are currently reviewing all accredited qualifications, but no member will be penalised.

Will the new grades recognise international qualifications?

We currently recognise international qualifications as entry points to membership, as our accredited education partners are based all over the world.  If there is a call for additional qualifications to be recognised, this will be looked at as part of the implementation phase of the membership grades review. 


IOSH Professional Register

Why is IOSH introducing the Professional Register for members?

Many professional bodies already have professional registers. The IOSH Professional Register will replace IOSH’s current Member Directory and will provide professional recognition on a wider scale for individuals who choose to opt in. It will also assist recruiters and employers when they review a member’s professional status.

Will the IOSH Professional Register be compulsory?

No – there will be clear opt in/opt out options for members who do not wish to be included in the register.

What is the difference between the IOSH Professional Register and the Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register (OSHCR)?

The IOSH Professional Register is for all IOSH members and will typically show their name, membership number, location, membership grade (for example, Technical Member, Chartered Member, Chartered Fellow), CPD compliance (if relevant to their membership grade) and current IOSH Ethics Module status (for Chartered Members and Chartered Fellows).

OSHCR, the Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register, is a database hosting registered OSH consultants from seven professional bodies. The consultants listed are required by their own professional body to maintain ethical and professional standards. This register gives assurance that the consultants listed are certified professionals who hold chartered status (or equivalent) membership within their professional body and are committed to on-going professional development.

Consultants who are Chartered Members or Chartered Fellows of IOSH may publish an entry on each register.

When will the IOSH Professional Register be introduced?

Our Professional Register is likely to be introduced 12 months after the launch of the new membership grades and new CPD scheme. All IOSH members will receive a personal transition plan to support them through the changes and provide guidance and support where required.

IOSH’s focus is to ensure that members are fully supported through the transition period. More details of the Professional Register will be shared with our membership as we design and develop the register moving forward.


General questions about membership

Will the cost of membership change?

Board have agreed to hold the annual subscription fee for the current financial year at 2019/20 levels, in recognition of the current economic situation caused by the pandemic. It was keen to ensure that membership is accessible during this difficult time. Board review membership fees annually and they may be subject to change in 2022/23.

For information on current fees including concessionary membership, please follow this link.

Will membership of a relevant Chartered institution aligned with OSH deliver any benefit to IOSH members? i.e. points towards CPD?

Not initially. It is something that we may consider in future, but our priority will be to establish the new membership grade structure and ensure that it is understood by employers, recruiters and other key stakeholders such as accredited partners.


The review and consultation process

Why did IOSH’s membership grades need to be reviewed and why now?

We’ve reviewed our membership grades in line with our charitable objects and strategic goal to enhance the global occupational safety and health profession, as part of IOSH’s WORK 2022 strategy. The world of work has changed significantly since our grades were last set (in 2006) and OSH professionals are faced with more complex challenges, which require a broader set of skills, knowledge and behaviours. That’s why we’ve updated the competency framework and the membership grades review was the logical next step, which feels even more timely in light of the global pandemic. Employers and employees will be relying on OSH professionals more than ever to navigate the ‘new normal’ in the workplace so it’s vital that IOSH grades are current and relevant.

What is changing and when?

As some changes to the membership grades structure require amendments to our Byelaws, which members voted to accept at the AGM, we’ll await Privy Council’s decision on the changes and update members on the timing of new grades in due course. There will be a transition period of 12 months from the date on which the new grades are launched, to allow members to complete the required CPD and Ethics Certificate (if applicable).

What is the process for scrutiny and approval of any changes?

The final membership structure was subject to scrutiny and approval in stages. The Board of Trustees agreed that it should be implemented in full however, some changes required minor amendments to our Byelaws. Members voted to accept these Byelaw changes at the AGM and we will now submit final documents to Privy Council for its approval. Please refer to the timeline which can be accessed via the link in the page below these FAQs. A detailed account of the governance process can be found here.

What happens now?

Important work continues at pace in the background and good progress has been made on the systems and content required to implement the changes, with extensive user testing planned in the near future.

Once we receive an outcome from our Privy Council submission, we will be in a more favourable position to confirm launch timings and provide an update on other key developments which will significantly enhance the way we support members through their careers.

We will update Members as soon as we have received Privy Council’s decision.


Still got questions that we haven’t covered in the FAQs or the common misconceptions in the ‘Results of the membership grades survey’ document? You may also find these documents useful:

Alternatively, please email grades@iosh.com.