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How CSP® Certification Can Advance Your Occupational Safety and Health Career

As you navigate your way through the occupational safety and health field, adding certifications can significantly boost your career prospects. Becoming a Certified Safety Professional® – commonly known as a CSP® – is a worthwhile goal as you plan your career.

Whether you’re an established safety professional considering certification or still working toward your initial academic degree, it can be useful to learn as much as possible about what it takes to become a Certified Safety Professional®.

In this article, we will explore the following questions:

  1. What is a Certified Safety Professional®?
  2. Is CSP® certification worth it?
  3. How do you get a CSP® certification?

1. What is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP)?

A Certified Safety Professional® (CSP®) is an individual who has completed the CSP® examination offered by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals. They perform professional safety duties, assess risks, and evaluate hazards and risk control measures. They’re also largely responsible for investigating incidents, emergency response preparation, and much more. CSPs work anywhere oversight is required, from offices to factories.

Differences Between the ASP® and CSP®

If you’ve also heard of the Associate Safety Professional® – commonly known as the ASP® – you may be wondering “What is the difference between an ASP® and CSP®?”

The ASP® and CSP® represent different levels of professionalism in occupational safety and health, as they have different requirements for education and years of experience. Safety professionals typically earn the ASP® early in their career, and they build up to the more comprehensive CSP® over time.

ASP and CSP Requirements

RequirementsAssociate Safety Professional® Certified Safety Professional®
EducationBachelor’s degree in any field; or an associate degree in safety, health or the environmentBachelor’s degree
Experience1 year4 years
OthernoneASP®, GSP®, or another BCSP qualified credential

2. Is CSP® Certification Worth It?

The value of CSP® certification can be both tangible and intangible. Some CSP® certification benefits may include:

  • A stronger foundation for understanding industry trends and best practices.
  • Enhanced job mobility.
  • Higher earning potential.

In the 2020 SH&E Industry Salary Survey, the 3,770 respondents who were CSP® certified reported a median base salary of $110,000, while the median salary for all 8,112 respondents was $98,000. Earning a CSP® can lead to satisfying careers in environmental safety and management, industrial hygiene, management and many other safety-related fields.

3. How Do You Get a CSP® Certification?

In addition to passing the exam offered by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals – and meeting the BCSP’s recertification requirements – you will also need to complete the following CSP® requirements:

  • Earn a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.
  • Have at least four years of experience where at least 50% of your time is spent on preventative, professional-level safety duties.
  • Have a qualified credential through the BCSP, such as the Associate Safety Professional® or the Graduate Safety Practitioner®.

One of the quickest routes to earning a CSP® is first earning an academic degree in a Qualified Academic Program from a school like Columbia Southern University. Here at CSU, both our bachelor’s degree and master’s degree programs have earned QAP recognition from the BCSP. When you finish a degree in a Qualified Academic Program, you are automatically eligible for the GSP® designation. Those who hold this designation may bypass the requirement to complete the ASP® first.

Can You Get a CSP® Without a Degree?

The short answer is “no.” In 2018, the BCSP updated their CSP® education requirements to include a bachelor’s degree at a minimum; previously, candidates could apply for the certification with an associate degree.

CSP® Exam Prep

There are several options for CSP® exam prep, but here at CSU, we are proud to have partnered with the BCSP to offer an online, interactive training program called examCORE. Students who enroll in examCORE learn the knowledge and skills needed to complete BCSP certification exams from leaders in the profession, including CSU faculty.


Here at Columbia Southern University, occupational safety and health was one of our first academic degree programs, and our faculty members are recognized leaders in the industry. Dr. Dan Corcoran, occupational safety and health academic program director for CSU, hosted a webinar in 2018 with a comprehensive look at CSP® certification and the benefits of pursuing a degree in a Qualified Academic Program.

To learn more about our occupational safety and health online degree programs at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree levels, visit our website.

This article was originally published at ColumbiaSouthern.edu/Blog.

Jacqueline "Jackie" Annis is an industrial hygienist with the Office of Partnerships and Recognition, Directorate of Cooperative and State Programs in OSHA’s National Office.  Jackie’s primary responsibilities include developing and overseeing internal policies and procedures for the VPP, reviewing VPP on-site evaluation reports for process safety management information, serving as the National Office liaison for two of OSHA’s ten Regions, and facilitating the management of OSHA’s National Strategic Partnership Program.  She is an integral part of OSHA’s National Office team. 

She has served with the Agency for 36 years, including five years as a senior industrial hygienist in OSHA’s Office of Health Enforcement, Directorate of Enforcement Programs in the National Office and 17 years as a compliance safety and health officer in the Denver, CO Area Office.  Prior to her tenure at OSHA, Jackie worked as an industrial hygienist for the Department of the Navy in Alameda, California.  Jackie obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA in 1983.

Wayne Howard earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from UC Davis and has spent 12 years with Shell (at Martinez) refinery, 3 years with the consulting firm Process Safety, 15 years with Valero (at Benicia), and the last 10 years in the Corporate Process Safety Department. He is the Valero representative to AFPM's Advancing Process Safety Initiative.

Nathan Obaugh, PE is a senior engineer in the Safety and Operational Excellence Group at NuStar Energy. Nathan has over 10 years of PSM and process design experience in the petrochemical, refining and midstream industries. At NuStar, Nathan oversees all elements of the corporate PSM program and works directly on hazard analysis, process safety studies, PSM/RMP audits and provides process engineering support to the operations and capital projects groups.

Jared Teter, PhD is a senior staff scientist with a background in physics and hazards analysis. He has extensive experience in subscale testing of energetic materials and has served as program manager for several large testing and risk management projects. He has applied engineering and risk management protocols while evaluating the risk associated with propellant and explosives manufacturing, combustible dust, and other hazardous material related processes.

Tim Belitz has a degree in Environmental Health/Industrial Hygiene from Old Dominion University and a Master’s from Duke University. He has over 25 years of Industrial Health Safety and Environmental Experience and is a Certified Safety Professional. He has many years focused on Contractor Management and Process Safety programs.

Rob Walker graduated from Virginia Tech in Microbiology and Chemical Engineering. Rob has almost 35 years of experience working in the chemical plant and refining industry. His passion for Process Safety and Mechanical Integrity began very early in his career. Rob began with his current company, Honeywell, back in 2011.

Prasad Joshi has B.S. and M.S. Degrees in Chemical Engineering from two universities in India. Prasad has over 30 years’ experience in the business. He began with Honeywell in May 2022 as Principal Maintenance Engineer. He has worked internationally in Asia and Europe.