how to start a career in health and safety?

How to start a career in Health and Safety

Your Career in Health & Safety

A career in health and safety can be both lucrative and fulfilling. On a typical day, you can expect to be using your knowledge and skill-set to reduce work-related accidents, injuries and illness. You may also be responsible for devising health and safety policies and ensuring that employers and employees follow them. If you’re contemplating a career in healthy and safety, here’s some useful advice:

Health & safety qualifications

CareerThe qualifications you need will depend on the type of job you are looking for. While there are many different professional courses that can be taken, it’s a good idea to start with a short introductory course for beginners, such as the NEBOSH Health and Safety at Work qualification. To gain a broad understanding of health and safety issues, many people go on to study the NEBOSH General Certificate. Largely considered as an essential qualification for most health and safety roles, this course covers key topics such as managerial duties, how to conduct an adequate risk assessment and how to investigate risks.

When you are ready to advance in your career, or you require specialist knowledge, you can then go on to study a more detailed course, such as a NEBOSH diploma. To work as a full time health and safety practitioner, you will usually need a higher qualification approved by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).

Method of study

ElearningAn important factor to consider when training for a qualification is your method of study.

Bear in mind that completing a health and safety course can be challenging, especially if you are trying to juggle work and other commitments. To ensure that you succeed, you may want to consider a study programme that has flexible hours, such as an e-learning course. By using web-based learning methods, you don’t have to be tied down to classroom schedules and you can study at your own pace.

Work experience (in health & safety)

Before you begin studying for a qualification, it’s a good idea to gain practical experience in a health and safety role. This will give you an idea of the types of challenges you may face later in your career and show prospective employers that you are keen and have an interest in the industry. A background in manufacturing, engineering or construction may also be particularly useful.

Another option is to start off by being a health and safety representative or trade union member for your current employer. Any kind of health and safety related work experience will give you a good head start when applying for future roles.

11 replies
  1. Saeed Shishani
    Saeed Shishani says:

    So you advice to start with the introductory then gain the IGC.

    I have good background about Occupational H&S and would like to decide which course I should start with.

    So can you provide more details of subjects covered in both courses?

    And also cost of both e-learning training courses please.

    Saeed Shishani

    • SHEilds Health and Safety
      SHEilds Health and Safety says:

      Thanks for contacting SHEilds.

      With regards to your query and by analysing your previous back ground – We would highly suggest you to enhance your career by choosing the option of NEBOSH IGC, this will be the first step towards your professional development leading onto higher NEBOSH qualification such as International Diploma in OHS.This course will help you understand the core knowledge of Health & Safety whilst making the foundation strong.

      NEBOSH IGC compromises of 3 units:

      • GC 1 – Management of International Health & Safety
      • GC 2 – Controlling Workplace Hazard
      • GC 3 – Practical assessment

      For better understanding of the pricing structure , please see the below link :

      NEBOSH International General Certificate pricing

  2. Evans K. Foli
    Evans K. Foli says:

    Thank you for such a wonderful advice given for global consumption.

    I’m an administration and management first degree holder, humbly seeking to venture into a new field of study thus Safety and Health Management.

    Help me to get the clue please, Since I have no background in safety and health management, can I choose safety and health management career path and how can I be successful in it.

    • SHEilds Health and Safety
      SHEilds Health and Safety says:

      Hello Evans,

      It’s great you’re interested in starting a new career in health and safety management. As you have very little existing knowledge of health and safety, it’s best to start with an entry level qualification, such as the IOSH Working Safely course, which takes around 6 hours to complete. Entry level qualifications introduce basic concepts of health and safety in every day working activities.

      If you are feeling confident you can also opt to go for the IOSH Managing Safely qualification, which covers more topics and does actually focus on management systems specifically. So, the managing safely qualification may be a great option for you, you may already be familiar with some of the management systems covered due to your administration management background. The managing safely course takes around 30 hours of study to complete.

      Progressing further you can then go for a NEBOSH General Certificate, which comes in two flavours. The National General Certificate and the International General Certificate. If you are working in the UK, go for the National variety, however if you are working outside of the UK, it’s the International General Certificate you should study. The primary difference between these two qualifications is that the National version covers legislation and UK based law, however the International version covers international best practices and there is not so much legal/law jargon to learn.

      If you’d like any further advice, we have dedicated course advisers who can help you make your decision.

      Kind regards

  3. Zubair Aslam
    Zubair Aslam says:

    I have just started a new role in HSE, previously I was trainee process engineer in a petrochemical industry. I have Bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering. Kindly suggest me the career path best suited for me.
    Thanks in advance.

    • SHEilds Health and Safety
      SHEilds Health and Safety says:

      Hello Zubair,

      Congratulations on your new role.

      The best career path is the one that makes you happiest, If you have a job you love you never need to work a day in your life :-)

      As you have a role in HSE already I would suggest that as a minimum you should take the NEBOSH general certificate which will give you the base core knowledge to be able to undertake your duties professionally. If you then decide that an HSE career is for you I would suggest specialising in your chosen area (environmental, Fire safety, Oil and Gas etc).

      Why not speak to a course adviser at your local SHEilds office who will be able to suggest an educational route that fits your ambitions and goals.


  4. Sammie
    Sammie says:

    Hi, this is a great piece and I am most grateful not just for my personal insight, but for those users who will come after me to read and direct the course of their career path. I am Sammie from Nigeria, I have Bsc in Microbiology and I want to take Health and Safety as my primary goal and build my career. I was advised to take the NEBOSH IGC course which I will take next month in Abuja Novelle Centre, I want to know if that alone qualifies me to venture into HS or will I need adhoc certification on top of my BSC. Also what are the job opportunities in HSE ? It would be sad after spending time and money to get this certification and there are limited opportunities. I will love if I can be granted a personal adviser to speak to me on this journey. Once again Great job guys !! Sammie from Nigeria

    • SHEilds Health and Safety
      SHEilds Health and Safety says:

      Hello Sammie,

      Thank you for your kind words regarding our blog.

      Taking the IGC is an excellent place to start your NEBOSH education and will allow you to start applying for HSE related roles providing a platform for you to continue your growth and gain valuable workplace experience. There are many opportunities for employment for NEBOSH holders both within Nigeria and worldwide.

      I would suggest speaking with one of our advisers who will hold a professional discussion with you and offer suggestions on further education based on your employment goals.


  5. Eugene
    Eugene says:

    Hi! I’m planing to start a career in health and safety, but I’m not sure if my previous work experience can be considered as H&S experience. At the moment I’m working in the large distribution center as a security officer and before I use to work on construction site, army and mearchant navy. I’ve got First Aid cert, SOLAS safety of life at sea, Gas & Oil tanker familirisation course, I also had couple live experience in preventing oil polution spiladges. In nearest future I’m planning to do a general NEBOSH course. So if anyone can help me with any advice I’ll b very thankfull!

    • SHEilds Health and Safety
      SHEilds Health and Safety says:

      Hello Eugene,
      Your previous experience and qualifications within the safety field will definitely put you in a good position to start building towards your goal of becoming a HSE expert.

      Your plan of taking and passing your NEBOSH general Certificate will build on the knowledge you have gained and provide you with a professional globally recognised occupational health and safety management qualification that is demanded by many companies as a minimum to apply for HSE related roles.

      I would suggest contacting your local SHEilds office and speaking with one of our course advisers who will be able to delve deeper into your previous exposure to HSE related duties and your ambitions and advise on the correct study route for yourself.

      Local office contact details can be found at


  6. Christiana
    Christiana says:

    Good day please I need some career advice. Two years ago(2017) I completed my bachelor’s degree in Environment and Development studies. Then I did a compulsory service for my nation in a government budget office for a year. I want to proceed to gain a health and safety qualification like Nebosh or Master’s in. Oil and Gas management with Iosh managing safely as part of the course but I don’t have any work experience in what I want to do. How do I proceed?


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