Leadership. Loyalty. Teamwork. Strong communications. Tech savvy.
These are some of the qualities and characteristics of military veterans. They are also the traits of an occupational safety and health professional, which is why the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) believes that military members separating from the U.S. Armed Forces should consider workplace safety as a second career. Safety professionals keep people protected by analyzing and controlling on-the-job risks and hazards. They influence all types of people from front-line workers to corporate management, and are skilled problem solvers.
“We need to bolster the pipeline of qualified candidates for occupational safety and health positions in order to improve safety management programs and further reduce work-related injuries and illnesses,” said ASSE Board member Brad Giles, P.E., CSP. “Our profession presents a great opportunity for veterans to leverage the valuable skills they have acquired in the military.”
In December, ASSE held a free webinar that detailed the advantages and methods of transitioning into a post-military career in workplace safety and health. It was attended by 30 registrants, while two dozen more viewed the webinar online afterward.
“The attendees gained valuable insights into the safety profession and learned what it takes to successfully shift into such a role,” said ASSE Board member Carl Heinlein, CSP, ARM, CRIS. “It’s a growing profession and gratifying career choice that aligns favorably with military experience.”
Surveys report that job satisfaction in the safety field is high, with 90 percent of respondents being “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their jobs. The reasons include differing work tasks day-to-day, contributing to the welfare of others, and opportunities to earn greater responsibilities in a safety career path.
Several different roads lead to an occupational safety and health career, which requires core competencies and specific qualifications. A common path is obtaining a bachelor’s or master’s degree in safety and entering the field as a professional. Others get involved when their employer assigns them safety responsibilities, such as serving on a safety committee. Some begin their safety careers through a leadership role where they have responsibility for the welfare of their team. And others are motivated to enter the safety field after being part of a significant incident in which people were injured or killed.
“Given my military background, moving into the workplace safety field was a natural step for me,” said ASSE Region 2 Vice President Tim Page-Bottorff, CSP, CET, a senior consultant at SafeStart who transitioned from the U.S. Marine Corps. “I felt I had a solid head start due to the skills and work ethic I developed in the Marines. It made perfect sense.”
The ASSE Foundation makes it easier to obtain the education veterans need to transition into the safety field. The Foundation will award more than $350,000 in scholarships and professional education grants this year. Awards range from $500 to $15,000. Nearly $90,000 is earmarked for students who have served in the military, thanks to donations from Applications International Corporation and United Rentals.
Active or former military members interested in learning more about pursuing a career in occupational safety and health should visit ASSE online at http://www.asse.org/military-resources/.