Overview of Online Environmental Health and Safety Certificate Programs
Online environmental health and safety (EHS) certificate programs are typically graduate-level programs designed for working professionals, but undergraduate EHS certificates are also available online for those who would like to begin working in the field. Another type of online EHS certificate is one that is organization-specific: for example, a university might ask faculty, staff and students to complete safety training.
EHS certificate programs aim to equip students with the necessary skills to understand how the environment is related to health and safety and help manage issues in the field. Students in these programs may learn about common workplace hazards, how to manage environmental health and safety programs, and ensuring regulations are met and risk is at a minimum. Typically, these EHS programs can be completed fully online and may be completed in as little as 6 to 12 months. There are some certificate programs that may allow students up to 4 terms, or about 2 years, for completion.
Graduate programs typically require applicants to have a bachelor's degree and prior experience in science, math, and other areas.
Requirements for Online Environmental Health and Safety Certificates
Online certificate programs in EHS are usually designed for students wanting to pursue a career aimed at protecting both human and environmental health from a wide range of hazards. Students in these programs gain skills in identifying, predicting, and evaluating these hazards.
EHS certificate programs generally require about 15 to 18 credits. The coursework is usually completed online for 3 to 4 core courses and a couple of elective courses. At least one online EHS certificate program gives students the option to complete a shorter certificate program (4 courses in 6 months) that excludes the elective courses found in a longer version of the certificate program (6 courses in 12 months).
Occupational Health and Safety
Courses in occupational health and safety may explore the basic principles of the subject and/or the laws and regulations of the field as they apply to workers. Students may discuss concepts in safety analysis, injury prevention, occupational health and safety management, employer rights, and record keeping.
Courses in EHS or environmental management focus on the techniques used to minimize threats to human and/or environmental health. Students in these courses explore a wide range of health and safety topics and how to develop and implement programs to address these topics and issues. Other specific topics may include risk assessment and communication.
Courses in waste management are usually offered as an elective and may focus on how to properly manage the disposal, transportation, storage, and more of solid and/or hazardous (such as nuclear) waste. Students may discuss topics in remediation processes, regulatory compliance, restoration effects, and control measures.
Career Outcomes with a Certificate in Environmental Health and Safety
EHS certificate programs may be ideal for those aspiring or already working in areas like consulting, industry, manufacturing, utilities, energy production, and more. Although students with an EHS certificate may pursue careers such as environmental health manager, consumer safety specialist, or industrial hygiene manager, many may work as environmental health and safety specialists. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) labels these specialists under environmental scientists and specialists and reported that these professionals typically need a bachelor's degree in a natural science and may pursue optional certification, such as becoming a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager through the Institute of Hazardous Materials Management. The BLS also reported that as of 2019, environmental scientists and specialists made a median salary of $71,360.
Another common job option for an EHS certificate is that of an occupational health and safety specialist or technician. According to the BLS, these specialists need a bachelor's degree, while technicians may only need on-the-job training, a certificate, or an associate's degree. These professionals may also choose to pursue optional certification, such as the Certified Safety Professional (CSP) certification from the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP), that typically require an exam. Occupational health and safety specialists made a median annual salary of $74,100 as of 2019, per the BLS, while health and safety technicians earned $51,550.
Online certificate programs in EHS are usually offered at the graduate level and help prepare students for working to protect human and environmental health. These programs commonly include some elective courses to allow students to focus their studies in a particular area of interest.