The Best Pathway to a Career in Work Health and Safety

The Best Pathway to a Career in Work Health and Safety

How to follow a successful career in work health safety

Careers in workplace health and safety are currently experiencing a period of rapid growth, with an increased number of industries seeking suitably qualified health and safety professionals. In Australia, over 30,600 professionals are expected to be employed in the WHS industry by 2022.

A dynamic career choice with a range of promotion and leadership opportunities, a long-term career in Workplace Health and Safety is generously remunerated. In addition, it is a career that is mostly protected from redundancies due to automation.

Whether working as a Health and Safety Representative, a Work Health and Safety Advisor or a Work Health and Safety Manager, you can rest assured that you’re a vitally important member of the workplace.

Health and Safety Representative Career Pathways

A health and safety representative is an employee whose job it is to act on behalf of the business for issues regarding the workplace’s health and safety. While this role is usually carried out alongside the employee’s regular duties, becoming a Health and Safety Representative in your business is an excellent way to increase your skills and therefore your future employability and career growth opportunities.

Gaining experience as a health and safety representative is an ideal entry point into future roles such as a Work Health and Safety Officer. It adds vital skills to your resume, which can open up opportunities in other industries or management roles. Completing a Certificate IV or Diploma in Work Health and Safety is the next step into a rewarding career in WHS.

10 Industries Requiring Work Health and Safety Officers

Top ten industries looking for qualified health and safety reps now are:

  • Construction
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Mining
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • Transport and Logistics
  • Telecommunications
  • Retail
  • Agriculture and Farming
  • Hospitality

Whilst these are the top ten industries requiring qualified health and safety representatives, this kind of work exists in every single industry.

WHS Career Salary Guide

There is a choice of job titles and salary packages to consider when planning a pathway to a WHS career. Three common health and safety representative roles are outlined below.

Health and Safety Representative

A health and safety representative is usually the first step into a WHS career. A health and safety representative (HSR) is a fellow employee who represents the business in matters that relate to WHS. A compulsory five-day HSR training course is required to become a health and safety representative. Salaries for this role are aligned with the employee’s current title, with an appropriate increase usually offered to employees who take on this extra responsibility in addition to their usual duties.

Work Health and Safety Advisor

A Work Health and Safety Advisor is an employee whose specific role is to advise the employer on WHS issues. They identify potential risks, manage safety issues, train staff and communicate with people both inside and outside the business. Salaries for this role can vary based on the industry and the level of risk involved. For example, a WHS Advisor in Mining may earn more than one in Retail, due to the nature of work carried out in those industries.

The average salary for those working as a Work Health and Safety Advisor is approximately $100,352.

Work Health and Safety Manager

A Work Health and Safety Manager’s role is to manage a business’s work health and safety requirements on behalf of an employer. More specifically, they ensure that the relevant laws regarding health and safety in the workplace are complied with. This role requires a higher level of technical knowledge and responsibility than a Work Health and Safety Advisor.

Salaries do vary dependent on industry, with earnings in the range of $200,000 – $500,000, or more.

Health safety representative inspecting worksite

What training does a Work Health and Safety Representative need to do?

A combination of formal education and on-the-job HSR training is recommended to become a work health and safety representative. The first step is completing a relevant, practical degree, and considered the best way to receive a well-rounded insight into the skills required for success in the industry. Both Diploma and Certificate IV options are available.

Diploma of Work Health and Safety (BSB51319)

The easiest and most direct pathway to a career in Work Health and Safety is completing a Diploma of Work Health and Safety (BSB51319). The well-rounded degree offers a range of units such as Lead WHS Risk Management, Manage Implementation of Emergency Procedures and Communicate with Influence. You’ll learn about effective risk management and how to deal with both internal and external stakeholders. 71% of managers in the WHS industry hold at least a diploma, making this qualification the perfect first step in a long and rewarding career.

Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety (BSB41419)

An alternative to the Diploma of Work Health and Safety (BSB51319) is a Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety (BSB41419). This is an ideal choice for anyone entering the degree with no relevant HSR training or experience and wants a qualification that gives them a well-rounded insight into the WHS industry. It is then easy to progress to the Diploma qualification when ready. The Certificate IV is a budget-friendly choice for those who may not want to change careers yet, but are looking to take future advantage of the growing opportunities of the WHS industry.

There are several pathways to a career in WHS. Completing formal education through a qualification such as a Certificate IV or Diploma, combined with valuable on the job training, is the best way to achieve a long and rewarding career in work health and safety.

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