So you want a career in Health and Safety? (Part 3)

So you want a career in health and safety?

Lol. I can’t believe there is actually a part 3 of this! I got an email from a guy recently asking me tons of questions about getting into the Health and Safety profession and what courses he needed to do. I was very detailed in my reply and even gave him links to a few related articles such as part 1 and part 2 of this series. His verdict was that I gave him more information dealing with him one-on-one than those posts did! Can you beat that?

So of course, I decided to write this part 3 and tell you all what I told him – so of course, with his permission, I am turning our conversation into a post. As usual, I will keep his identity very private and will take out the unnecessary bits so as not to bore you. However, whatever I publish is kind of word for word what his question was and what my answers were. Hopefully you can learn a thing or two from it! Let’s call my new friend Joseph.

So you want a career in health and safety? Here’s what you need to know. At least for now.

Joseph:

    Dear Prof Ike,
    I trust that your weekend is moving fine.
    Am not really used to talking to professors, maybe because I don’t get to see them often. This email is a comment from one of your article “scammers or fraudsters in safety industry”, maybe I didn’t get the title correct.
    My name is Joseph and I am the EHS supervisor in my organisation (Environmental Health and Safety ) with close to three years experience on the job. My qualification is B.Sc in Environmental Management and Forestry, OSHA safety supervisor training, HSE Level 3 training, Tbosiet. Before I read your article I was on the verge of going to pay for IOSH working safely training that was schedule for 25/6/2016 but was postponed. Before I forget, I also go offshore on a weekly basis for a monitoring on an FPSO.
    Am so concerned at the moment about my qualifications and the certifications because I know I still need to do more training and be more qualified and add more certificate and this things requires money. Also, I have plans of going in for a masters in Environmental Management. One would ask why are my in a hurry to get all this things in a short moment even when I have a job.
    Recently, my job is not secured for alot of reason and for me to get the bigger jobs, I need more certification. And here you are talking about what and what course people should do and the ones people shouldn’t do. Since you know much about safety, I would appreciate it if you will advice me on the steps that I need to take to have that breakthrough in my career.
    Tell me if the IOSH working safely is good for me to run. I don’t want a NEBOSH because of the cost, not that I don’t know that it’s good for my career. I rather go for a masters and thereafter NEBOSH can come in, you know why? Just because they have Masters they pay them better and recognize them more than me but funny enough I train and induct these set of people when they start the job.
    Prof, my plight is not only on the course that I can do but I want a career breakthrough. I don’t know how to go about it and I can tell you for sure that I am really troubled. Please advice in any way you can.
    Thank you.
    Sincerely,
    Joseph

Me:

    Hi Joseph,
    First, you don’t need the IOSH working safely. It does not help your career. It is just a course not to help you in your safety profession. At least in the UK it isn’t and it shouldn’t be different in Nigeria. You say you have been doing safety for over 3 years – what you need is the NEBOSH Diploma if you have no safety qualifications. Once you get a masters, you certainly don’t need the NEBOSH health and safety unless you want to try the oil and gas or environmental which I feel you really don’t need once you get the NEBOSH safety course.
    Masters is great but a lot are not recognised by IOSH and you really do not need it except for the sake of having a masters. NEBOSH diploma gives you same perks as a masters. I did a masters because I wanted to have one and do a PhD. I wrote a post on recently on all this it. Check it here plus you could read the first part too.
    You have a lot of experience and that is way better than any qualification you feel you must get. Yes you need more training (everyone does) and it costs money but I advice you to take life easy and do them when you can.
    I understand the need to succeed quickly but I see no reason why you should be troubled. I know people with just NEBOSH who work in big companies. I know one in Shell who doesn’t even have a safety qualification. I advice you get the minimum – NEBOSH and not give up on applying for jobs in your dream company.
    What you need at the end of the day is to become a chartered safety professional. Nebosh IGC gives you TechIOSH and the Diploma or a masters gives you GradIOSH.
    Hope this helps.
    Regards,
    Ike

Well Joseph came back with more questions lol and I was too pleased to answer them. Training scam in Nigeria is becoming so unbearable so why shouldn’t I do what I can for my fellow Safety people if it means they get to save their money and not waste it on courses that will do nothing great for their careers except of course give them some added knowledge. Knowledge you can gain on the job!

Well here is Joseph’s reply to my email.

Joseph:

    Dear Prof Ike,
    Thank you for your swift reply.
    Your response was FAT and I really do appreciate it. From your comment I can deduce that you studied abroad and stayed there a while and you might have lost touch of what balls in our contemporary Nigeria.
    Firstly, I still work and my employer is something else and he won’t give you the time to develop yourself and he won’t help you develop. I don’t want to dwell on that, so even the opportunity to development myself will be contested but I still have to do so….my choice of pursuing an M.Sc is because when I get another job I won’t want to be a field guy but a management guy and just NEBOSH can’t roll me.
    Okay let explain what I do, my organisation offers environmental services to mostly the oil and gas sector i.e EIA, EMR, Environmental Monitoring, Waste Management etc. So I am more into the environmental aspect than the HSE side but …[I took this out to ensure anonymity byt teust me you ain’t missing anything]. I have been exposed to alot, I have worked with guys that works with the IOC’s both upstream and downstream sectors hence comes my appetite for a career growth.
    Thank you once again for the advice. As for the IOSH, I won’t continue with the training rather I will save for the bigger ones like NEBOSH but for the M.Sc. I still think that it’s very important and thereafter I shall or in between I shall go for the NEBOSH training.
    How much do you know about the environmental management field? Because that’s my core maybe you can tell me to dwell more in it instead of going into the choked path of HSE where everybody wants a share. As for the link your sent, I shall definitely study it.
    Thank you.

My Epic Response:

    Yes I did study and live abroad….. Yes I might be ignorant of some of what goes on in Nigeria since I decided not to get a job but rather work for myself. But I know Nigerians are stuck on NEBOSH and gaining professional designations. To answer your question, I don’t do environment – no experience and limited knowledge.
    Getting into management is a gradual thing – you can’t just get it because of a masters. I know that for a fact. Maybe I didn’t explain the Masters thing well. When I did mine, it cost millions of Naira. You complained about money being an issue that’s why I suggested the NEBOSH. If you are going to do a Masters in Safety, you need to do one approved by IOSH so you gain GradIOSH status instantly. You can still get GradIOSH with NEBOSH Diploma.
    Or you can do the HSE Masters in University of Ibadan (not IOSH approved) and a NEBOSH Diploma – that will still work out fine. If you do an IOSH approved Masters, there really is no need for the NEBOSH. I don’t have a NEBOSH certificate but I train people on NEBOSH thanks to my Masters.
    Yes HSE is choked. Very choked. I know people with NEBOSH who can’t get jobs or who are paid peanuts. My colleague I studied masters with in 2009 just got her first safety role after over 6 years. I think if the Environmental thing works for you, then try to grow in your field knowing you have an edge over others with your HSE experience. Employers see who is committed and competent and if you are, you will get the promotion you desire with time.
    CPD stands for Continuous Professional Development. Every professional needs it for career progression. In HSE you need it to grow even if it’s just with the professional designation. CPD is not cheap as they are not the typical everyday courses you see.
    I do have an open door “policy” – I used to have a Q and A page on my site but removed it recently as I am rebranding the site gradually and will introduce new things.
    Hope this answers your question.

So of course Joseph still had more to say lol. Seems like the more I “talked”, the more confused he became and maybe vexed at Nigeria’s training providers.

Joseph

    Thanks once again for the speedy reply.
    Wow! your response is very insightful and the more you say the more I get confused. Why are I confused? Because the career path towards HSE profession has been bastardized by all these Shylock trainers or vultures we call HSE trainers. Now I understand what your article is trying to explain. But truly, nobody ever talked of all this terms about IOSH that you are mentioning.
    Prof., am sorry to say this but that your article says little of all what you just explained to me. Hope you don’t mind that I go to read all the article on your blog for free o and recommend the blog and your twitter handle to my friends. With the way you have analyzed this safety career, I will rather concentrate on this environmental discipline and grow there because am still confused about this safety thing. I am sorry if you have explained and explained but there are still gray areas that’s because nobody explained any of this to me.

And of course Joseph went ahead to encourage me which made me feel good to be honest. Not very often you get a handshake for telling the bitter truth.

    Prof., I will retweet your tweets on twitter just to help you spread your message and advertise you more. I know Nigeria is a tough ground but at same time it’s very fertile. With Persistence, Consistence and no resistance you will achieve your goal. Please don’t retire cos alot of people read your article but will act as if they are not seeing your post just to put out the fire in you *Nigeria Thing*. I will do my bit to make sure that your fire burns like camp fire online. If you dont mind, whatever I see that will help you do your thing well, I won’t hesitate to share.
    Since you say you have an open door policy>>>>i will read the articles and send you emails on my comments. You just succeeded in killing the little fire that i have for safety with all this many course that nobody has ever told me and i thought safety would be easy o.
    Thank you ma for always replying. God bless you.

Awww how sweet right? Well of course I replied.

My “humble” response

    Thanks Joseph. Glad to be of help.
    Yes the HSE profession is bastardised as you say. Nobody really tells you the truth because they want your money. Thanks for helping share my posts and referrals. Truly appreciated.
    No harm in doing the NEBOSH cert – you never can tell when it will come in handy. It currently goes for about N265,000. I didn’t intend to kill the fire you have for Safety just wanted you to know what the requirements are so you don’t waste money on pointless courses.
    Thanks once again.

Wow! Lengthy right? So employers are out there trying to frustrate their employees’ growth? Who would have thought? Well I doubt it. I think many employers are just super ignorant and feel that as long as the work is getting done they don’t have to pay to have their staff trained and retrained. Maybe? Yes the economy is super bad but we can do what we can for ourselves – there are many free courses online. Go out there and educate yourselves.

I purposely took out some bits about IOSH so I sdon’t bombard you with too much at once but I will definitely be treating it in a separate post – will go into much detail about CPD, IPD, transfering to GradIOSH and getting the highly desired CMIOSH. Watch this space!

Did this email conversation help anyone? Got any questions? Then make a comment and I will try my best to reply as soon as I can.

#BeHSEWise