Professional designations – why are they important?

John Doe CMIOSH FIIRSM FCIPD CPLP CFPS FSDP CSEP……. (yawn). Ego things (eyes rolling). I see alot of this these days on LinkedIn and it just makes me laugh really hard. I can bet top dollar that half of these people are unemployed and desperately looking or work and majority of the other half just love to show off. You are so busy at work yet you have time to gather all these qualifications? Really? Surely not impressed.

Look at Accountants. Do you know how long it takes them to become chartered? Years! The number of exams they need to sit for and pass? Some of which they end up re-sitting. Have you seen how huge their textbooks are? My brother, his wife and one of my sisters are all Accountants and they studied their butts off to get to where they are. Sometimes I feel sorry just watching my sister study those huge textbooks. Then I bless God I never went the Accounting route.

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We Safety people just overdo things. We try to put one another down especially on LinkedIn. We boast of knowing more of Safety than another. We use all manner of designations – most of which are meaningless to me. Just like saying you are the CEO of many companies – really? How are you going to pull that off? Being CEO of just one company is hard work not to talk of 7 companies (yes I have met people like this and they are as broke as hell – I call them CEO of Nothing).

Dr, Prof and the likes I support fully but all these additional stuff just really makes me cringe. Everyone knows I am not a real Professor even though half the time I sign off as Professor Ike. Just like Professor Green – the musician (surely not educated to the level or the level before that or even the level before the level before the level lol – now I’m just being sarcastic).

I used to add the GradIOSH thing to my name when I first got it but after a while I got bored with looking at it seeing it wasn’t on my birth certificate so surely that isn’t part of my name. Plus I had only just qualified as a Safety Professional – I didn’t think I deserved it since I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to defend it. I eventually dropped it and never renewed my IOSH subscription. While I was a member they were never really useful to me. I gained more from attending meetings held by the London Health and Safety Group.

I know a few people who tell me IOSH does nothing groundbreaking for them but they stay on and work hard to become Chartered primarily for career progression and for higher pay. Yes I get it. One day I will work towards being Chartered if I choose to return to Safety fully or if career progression demands it. Maybe. Time will tell.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not against professional designations as everyone is entitled to show off their qualifications and use it to open difficult doors when required. My concern is if required to prove you really deserve that professional designation, will you fall flat on your face or continue to stand tall?

What’s wrong with just pursuing getting the highest designation with IOSH or IIRSM or whatever is relevant to your field/industry (take note of the “or” not”and”)? Why try all other professional bodies? Says to me you are confused about what you want to do with your life when I see all manner of designations. Why not choose one and grow in it?

Professional designations

Experience has taught me that you need practical experience in Safety than another academic qualification or designation. There is more to Health, Safety, Risk etc than certifications. The problem with me is that I try not to see things they way others see them. I hate to follow the band wagon. I like to learn new things myself and my way. I like to think outside the box and not be weighed down by what the experts claim especially if I have doubts. I question things. I am all for “not reinventing the wheel” but sometimes I think the wheel needs to be taken apart and reinvented.

In our profession (Safety), sometimes you act like you are being controlled by some hidden remote which I feel does no favours for Safety. Yes legislations might make demands of us and sometimes make us go beyond what is required but bear in mind that these legislations are not what keeps you or your workplace safe – especially as some of them can be full of jargon and leave you more confused than you were before you decided to read it up 😉

Your actions (how much you adhere to the legislations, questioning any part of it that bothers or confuses you and doing more than the minumum required) matters more than just having your shelf stacked with all manner of legal stuff. This is one of the reasons why I am not bothered about the Health and Safety Bill in Nigeria – corruption won’t even let it do its work plus I don’t follow the news for when it will become or if it now a reality. It isn’t as important as educating people about Safety. Nigerians need education not a bill they can disobey and bribe or beg their way out if they get caught.

By all means, show what you’ve got but don’t be boastful especially on LinkedIn. No employer cares about your professional designation although we want you to be qualified. More importantly, we want someone who can get the job done! I remember a seminar I attended where the HR Director of a multinational in Nigeria was one of the speakers – she clearly stated that employers don’t care whether you have a Master’s or not as it doesn’t make them choose your CV over one without a Master’s degree. They only care about your having a first degree. Next they look at your grade when it comes to reducing the list from tens of thousands of applicants to just a few tens or hundreds. Then of course the recruitment process shaves it further to just a few. Little wonder the unemployment rate is miserably high 🙁

Am I wrong in my analysis? Then why not share why you find having professional designations important. Why do you bother with them?