The title of this blog post is something I have heard time and time again in a variety of different forums, Facebook groups, and LinkedIn posts. The conversation usually starts with someone asking for guidance on how to prepare for a certification, or which certification they should begin to pursue. Someone invariably will chime in and try to dissuade the poster from moving forward with getting a certification.
How do I study for a certification exam? Do I need to pay for a review course? What are some good study resources to prepare? These are just a few of the questions I asked when I was preparing for my first certification exam, and that I have subsequently been asked by other professionals beginning their journal to certification. Here is what I have learned through the years as someone who has been successful with many certifications and actively is involved in preparing others to be successful.
I consider the Certified Safety Professional®, the Certified Industrial Hygienist, and the Certified Hazardous Materials Manager the EHS Triad of Certifications; individuals who have achieved these credentials have demonstrated knowledge across the main areas where EHS professionals often hold responsibility. Although credentials do not automatically make someone an outstanding safety professional, anyone who has spent any time in the environmental health and safety (EHS) field is well-aware that there are many EHS-related credentials available.
I’m pretty active in social media and participate in a few safety groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Although I prefer LinkedIn due to the quality of posts and the value of the discussions, I do spend time in some Facebook groups dedicated to safety “professionals.” I use the term lightly because some of the conversations and opinions I see being shared are anything but professional some are downright scary.
Back in early January, I started watching what was going on in China with an outbreak of a novel virus. At the time, it got a bit of a mention on the news here and there. But it was there, and we were here, so no big deal; nothing to worry about. Fast forward to late March, and the world of a Safety Professional seems to have changed quite a bit in response to what we now know as SARS-CoV-2.
The only thing constant in life is change, and this rule applies equally to the various certification exams that you might be preparing for. In October 2019, the Institute of Hazardous Materials Management (IHMM) announced a new blueprint for the Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM) exam. The current blueprint, which has been in effect since July 2013, was reviewed and a Job Task Analysis (JTA) performed. This JTA involved current CHMMs providing feedback on what tasks and skills are necessary for a minimally qualified hazardous materials manager to be competent.