IOSH membership grades

Enhancing the OSH profession: an update

IOSH is pressing on with its strategy to ensure that the occupational safety and health (OSH) profession continues to advance and become even more influential in business planning and management.

Great progress has been made, and the first measures in a comprehensive programme of new developments and benefits are already being adopted and used enthusiastically by IOSH members. These include a career hub, a mentoring scheme and a future leaders programme, which together support members in their professional development and career-building.

IOSH’s Council – the representative body of its 47,000+ members worldwide – has just approved changes to regulations that will enable the Institution to move forward with the next phase of its plans to enhance the OSH profession. These include a simplification of the membership grades structure, with more clearly defined entry routes, more transparent progression from one grade to another and an experiential route to membership.

Formal permission for IOSH to implement these changes depends on a decision to be announced by the Privy Council. While there is every reason to believe that the outcome will be positive, IOSH can only proceed when this confirmation has been received.

Many elements of IOSH’s ambitious programme to enhance and improve provision for its members hinge on the completion and launch of our systems implementation project. This major undertaking is a complex piece of work that maps and integrates existing systems into a single platform, enabling a more personalised member journey. It is critical to the new features that IOSH wants to put in place for members.

IOSH is working carefully, precisely and thoroughly to meet members’ professional needs through easy access to the huge suite of benefits that is being developed, such as an extensive online library of over 100 specially produced resources that link directly to IOSH’s competency framework. With a further 100 resources soon to be put into production, this will be equivalent to over 3,500 hours of continuing professional development becoming available to members.

Once IOSH has received a positive outcome from the Privy Council and completed the systems implementation project, IOSH will communicate an updated roll-out plan and timings, including a robust testing programme involving staff and members who will be able to sample at first-hand some of the enormous possibilities ahead. These include a new professional register, a new scheme for continuing professional development and a new e-learning and assessment for ethical practice in OSH. All of these will give members the means to develop their competence and raise the standards of the profession.

We will give regular updates to report on further developments.

To see the new membership grades structure, please click on the icon below. 


Here are answers to some common queries - for further information, please email grades@iosh.com.

IOSH membership grades FAQs

How will the changes affect 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)116 257 3200.

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 IOSH Ethical Practice in OSH e-learning and assessment.

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 Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) through evidence of relevant knowledge and experience. The process to Chartered Membership builds on the Certified member’s current knowledge, understanding and experience through a supported Professional Development Assessment process (replacing current IPD). In addition, members with significant current knowledge, understanding and experience can take the proposed experiential route for Certified or Chartered membership.

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. For more information on the new grades and assessment structure, please review the final grades structure document or contact our Professional Development and Standards team on +44 (0)116 257 3200 or email pds@iosh.com.

Why are you changing the name for Graduate Member to Certified 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 Member 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 IOSH Board of Trustees has agreed that the new membership grades and entry requirements should be implemented.

I am a fully 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 practising retired member. Do I need to maintain CPD and the Ethics e-learning and assessment?

Yes. If the proposed changes are approved and you wish to continue practising, you would need to maintain your CPD and IOSH Ethical Practice in OSH e-learning and assessment. We’ll 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 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 IOSH Ethical Practice in OSH e-learning and assessment, 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?

Yes, Honorary Fellows will be transferred automatically to Companion membership of IOSH and will be provided with a transition plan.

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 support your CPD learning and development. 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 three categories of competency – technical, core and behavioural – in 12 areas, with 69 competencies overall at each level.

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 such as Malaysia, South Africa and the UAE have regulated frameworks 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?

The changes to our membership grades are 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 in OSH management and have extensive on-the-job experience, but might not have an OSH qualification. The assessment process will 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 will ensure that only candidates with evidence of the appropriate knowledge, competence and experience are approved for entry.

What is APEL?

The Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) 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 are currently working on this detail. 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 Membership level, 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 or members. There is likely to be a knowledge assessment that will provide an initial indication of what your membership journey could be, either Certified or Chartered through the experiential route. The experiential route to Certified or Chartered Membership is subject to a change to our Byelaws so we await the Privy Council’s decision on this.



Will IOSH CPD be affected by the new membership grades?

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 is 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, including reflective statements. If you are a Chartered Member or Chartered Fellow, your CPD will also include passing or maintaining the IOSH Ethical Practice in OSH e-learning and assessment. 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 Membership 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 Members, Certified Members, Chartered Members 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 a 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 each member. Guidance and support will be provided with the launch of the new CPD scheme and there’ll be a range of free 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 will 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 on timings in due course.


Proposed IOSH Ethical Practice in OSH e-learning and assessment

I see you are planning to introduce a new IOSH Ethical Practice in OSH e-learning and assessment. What does this involve and why is it only applicable for Chartered Members and Chartered Fellows?

We are currently developing the IOSH Ethical Practice in OSH e-learning and assessment. 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 IOSH Ethical Practice in OSH e-learning and assessment 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 Ethical Practice in OSH assessment, 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 IOSH Ethical Practice in OSH e-learning and assessment?

No, the IOSH Ethical Practice in OSH e-learning and assessment will be free of charge as part of our CPD package.



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 will support enrolled learners through a transition plan to help them meet the new requirements. In the meantime, we will also work with the relevant accredited partner to align the qualification for the future. This work has already started with many of our accreditation partners.

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 our new membership grades. 


General questions about membership

Will the cost of membership change?

The IOSH Board of Trustees has 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. The Board reviews membership fees annually so 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, such as 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

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 the Privy Council’s decision.