A consultant is a professional who provides advice in a particular area of expertise. For a safety consultant, the expertise is in one or more areas of safety and typically associated with a particular industry or business sector. For example, some safety professionals focus on the construction industry, while others focus on healthcare, transportation or manufacturing. Regardless of focus, becoming a successful safety consultant usually means having a formal education, years of experience, deep knowledge of safety standards and certification credentials.
The first step is to become acquainted with the "safety" part of safety consulting. This requires enrolling in a safety and health program at a trade school, college or university. For example, the Healthcare Inspection, Training & Consultation program at Bucks County Community College in Pennsylvania offers in-depth training in a number of areas, including fire safety inspections, regulatory compliance audits, hazardous materials training and emergency exercise planning and implementation. Many programs also focus on how to meet or exceed OSHA safety requirements.
Experience comes with doing the job. Apply for entry level safety jobs at consulting firms or companies that hire safety professionals. This will give you the opportunity to learn from senior professionals, get acclimated to the field of consulting and figure out an area of specialization. As you gain work experience, plot a course for career advancement such as moving up to senior consultant positions or even opening your own consulting firm.
Those who hire safety consultants are diligent about sizing up the consultant's professional credentials. One way to enhance your career prospects is to earn professional certification such as those offered by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals. Certification typically requires building professional experience and passing a comprehensive exam.