How To Plan Your Continuing Education In Safety

Don’t make the same mistake I did, which is not planning for further education. Getting continuing education is essential in advancing your career in safety.

As a safety manager, you are a professional. And that means keeping up-to-date with all the current changes and best practices in the profession you’re in. Think about this, are you willing to go to a doctor that is not up-to-date on the latest medical discoveries or innovations? Same with safety, you should be up-to-date to stay credible and relevant because the safety profession is more than a promotion.

So, let’s talk about the steps that you need to take in order to properly plan your continuing education in safety.

First, Determine Your Budget

Your budget is the first thing to consider because it will dictate what safety courses and programs you can take. Prices can range very differently, depending on the topic, quality, and duration.

Based on the research conducted in the professional community, the recommended budget that you should allocate for continuing education is around 10 to 15 percent of your total income.

This is the amount that is just right for you to be at the top of your career. You might think that this is a lot, but this is an investment that will be returned to you in terms of salary increases and promotions.

Of course, you can always ask your company to pay for your training. However, if they do so, don’t let them pick what training to attend. Because most of the time, they will encourage you to go to the cheapest one and the truth is that, you get what you pay for.

Next, Prioritize the Highest Value Education

Afterward, list all the possible continuing education programs within the range of your budget then rank them according to priority.

To do so, you’ll need to think about which program will help you earn more in the shortest duration possible. Consider what skills you need the most and what can build your professional network the best. So, for example, if you need to improve a certain skill that will put you in line for a promotion, then it’s advisable to get a program that is focused on that topic.

Another thing to consider is how safety managers think about their profession and safety career. Like, where do you see yourself in the future? In what industry do you want to be? What salary do you want in the future? What job titles do you want to get in the future? Get the education programs that will help you reach your desired future.

Then, Consider Safety Certifications

Getting certified is a really great way to ensure the progress of your career. However, certifications, especially those highly sought ones, have stringent requirements. For example, it may require you to have a college degree in safety or take a full-course examination. Do watch out for the upcoming episode related to this topic on my podcast.

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In summary, continuing education is essential to us safety professionals. It helps us become credible and relevant. And to properly do so, first is to determine your budget, prioritize high-value programs, and then consider getting certified.

3 Steps To Planning Your Continuing Education For Safety Professionals

Safety Brye: [00:00:00] Hey there. So tell me, how do you plan for your continuing education? Are you relying on like whatever happens to be going on at the annual conferences, or maybe you dump everything into one bucket for your degree coursework? Or do you actually have a five year plan? Or maybe you're like, Brye what are you talking about?

So, no matter where you are today, I wanna give you some tips on planning your continuing education as a safety professional. Let's get to it.

Hey there, safety friends. Welcome to the Safety Geek Podcast. I'm Brye Sargent CSP and 20 year Safety Professional. After spending years training safety leaders across the globe for a large corporation and creating safety programs from the ground up over and over again, I am now sharing

[00:01:00] my processes and strategies with you. At the Safety Geek, you will learn how to manage an effective safety program that increases your management support, and employee engagement. All the while helping you elevate your position and move up in your career. If you're ready to step into the role of a safety influencer and leader, you're in the right place.

Let's get to it. Hello. Hello. Hello, my safety friends. Welcome. Today I am talking about continuing education and one of the biggest mistakes that I see people in the field make, and I made it myself, this is why I know it's a huge mistake, is the lack of planning for your continuing education. Here's the thing, when you landed this amazing job, or when you were given some responsibilities in safety, an entire

[00:02:00] career landed in your lap. So please stop treating it like a job and start treating it like a profession. We would never expect our doctors, our accountants, our lawyers, our advisors to like learn a job once and then never keep up with their field or learn how to improve their outcomes. We'd stop going to that doctor if they didn't know the latest thing, and we would be appalled to hear that our C F O didn't know about the latest tax changes because they refused to pay for the seminar to learn about them.

So if you want to be treated like a professional, then it's time for you to act like one. And that means accepting that continuing education is part of the gig even if your boss doesn't pay for it. So today I wanna share

[00:03:00] three steps to planning out your continuing education. And the first one, first and foremost, the first step is that you need to decide a budget for your continuing education. Now the recommended amount to budget for continuing education is anywhere from five to 15% of your annual salary. And research has shown that higher earners typically spend 15% or more on their continuing education or on personal coaching to keep them at the top of their game, and there is definitely something to be said,

about the quality of the education and coaching that you get based on the amount of your investment, you do get what you pay for, my friends. So I have taken some very cheap classes and gotten useless information and I have taken some very expensive classes and it

[00:04:00] propelled my career. So you do get what you pay for. And it is definitely worth making sure that you make an investment in your continuing education. And one of the things that I like to tell people is that your transformation in your career actually starts with a transaction. Because when we pay for something, we actually value it more than if we got it for free or if somebody else paid for it for us.

This is why having your boss pay for things or only relying on your boss to pay for things ends up not helping your career as much as when you actually make a plan and pay for it yourself. So you need to decide on a budget that works for you. And if you've never budgeted for your continuing education, then maybe that budget starts off really small and you increase it over time trying to reach that 15 or plus percent goal. But once you decide on that budget, then you

[00:05:00] wanna start putting money away from every paycheck about that budgeted amount. So that way paying for your continuing education is not an issue. Now, the minimum budget that you should have on an annual basis, regardless of whatever percentage you choose, your minimum budget needs to make sure that it covers the cost of a basic class or a conference, or both

actually. Your minimum budget needs to cover the cost of like a basic class and a conference, cuz you do wanna do at least both on an annual basis. So think of like a National Safety Council conference, an ASSP conference, a VPPPA conference, any type of big conference where they have multiple seminars and the opportunity for networking.

And then you also wanna make sure that you have enough budget to cover at least one class, like a 30 hour class, an OTI center class. So that works out to be about $40 a week, and that may seem like a lot to you, but you have to stop thinking at it of it as an

[00:06:00] expense. It's actually an investment because it will pay you back in terms of salary, raises, promotions, it keeps you good at your job because let's say that you're just doing your job and you're not doing the continuing education.

You're basically just gonna flatline what your career can do. So that's costing you money by not making that investment. And I'm not saying that you shouldn't ask your employer whether or not they would reimburse you for the training. If they do, it becomes like a bonus. And I'm all about getting your boss to pay for your training, but you don't want their answer as to whether or not they're gonna reimburse you for the training to decide your career path.

What's best is that you create a plan that is best for you regardless of whether or not they're gonna reimburse you. And then you go ask them if they will reimburse you. This is your plan, will you reimburse me? And if they do, then it works out to be like a bonus.

[00:07:00] And when you do it this way, what you'll see is that your skills and your network and your value in the job market actually increases faster because you're looking out for your own best interest instead of just depending upon whatever is the, in the interest of the company you're currently working for.

So that is step one, is determine your budget and then start putting that money away so that way when you do have to pay for your continuing education, that does not become an issue. Step number two is that you wanna decide on the highest value training that you need. So what will pay you back faster and what will fill in any gaps in your skills.

So conferences are great and I, I love going to conferences and they give you an amazing opportunity to network with other people and also see a wide variety of idea. And on top of that, they're a fun way to get any CEUs. So if you have certifications and you need to get

[00:08:00] continuing education units, they're a great way to do that. But if the skills you are lacking are networking and idea generation, then a conference might be good for you. But when you allow the conference to be the only continuing education that you do, then the seminars that you attend are going to be all that you're investing in. You have now taken your continuing education plan and your career planning and put it in the hands of the conference planning committee.

You're no longer making that decision as to what you're gonna learn about this year. And you're not guaranteed that those gaps are gonna be filled because honestly, the seminars and the workshops that are at these conferences, they just teach you a tiny bit. Just a little bit on a whole bunch of things. And I think it's great for idea generation. But diving deep into learning a skill,

[00:09:00] you sometimes need a multi-day course for that, or a multi-day workshop, or a longer, more in-depth workshop to learn that. So it's a better option to use conferences as networking opportunities with a side of a little bit of great sessions in there too.

I will tell you, I've gotten some amazing ideas from conferences, but the meat of your continuing education plan should be filling the needs that are going to move your career forward or fill in any gaps of your skills that will help move your career forward. That's why the very first thing you need to do is take a hard look at your own skills.

You wanna look at like, where do you wanna be three to five years down the road? Where do you wanna be working? What type of job? What industry do you wanna be in? What salary do you wanna make? And then determine what skills are needed to earn that. And what is lacking, and that's what

[00:10:00] you fill in your continuing education plan with. And what you'll find is that a lot of the skills you're lacking are not necessarily safety related. They could be computer skills, communication skills, leadership skills, networking skills. Maybe you need to up your game on your resume or your interviewing skills. Or shameless plug, maybe you need to learn the strategies and processes of how to do the job more efficiently.

And Safety Management Academy might be on your list, right? Or maybe you wanna change your location or change the industry that you're working in, and then you wanna learn the skills, then you would wanna take continuing education classes that will teach you those skills. I met a safety person one time who really wanted to travel. So he would decide where he wanted to go, and then he would learn, he would take

[00:11:00] classes and, and study and learn about the safety programs in that area, whether it be in a different country or in a different state, whatever it was. And then he would apply for jobs in that area. And then basically he was working a temporary safety job and got to travel at the same time.

But he kind of had his plan first, learned it, and then went and found the job to match it, right? So then once you have a list of all of your skills and your gaps and everything that you need to learn to hit your three to five year mark, Then you wanna make sure that you prioritize those first and you want them to be short-term workshops or digital courses or something like that.

You do not want to learn these skills over multiple years or any type of like multiple course commitment. You want it to be short-term. You learn it, you add it to your resume, you start implementing and building up that track record of results.

[00:12:00] That is the goal here. And once you have the list of what you need to learn, then start looking at what is available and when so that way you can make a plan that fits within your budget. And if you can throw in a conference in there too, it's like, like I said, I'm always about at least attending one conference a year to help you build your network. So that is the meat of your continuing education plan is where do you wanna be in three to five years and what gaps are you missing?

And take some classes on that. The last step of your continuing education plan are your credentials. It is determining what certifications you want to have or maintain. And I have an entire episode on this, so I'm not gonna get into it here, but I will put a link in the show notes. But many certifications actually have requirements of like, you have to have a certain type of degree. It has to be a bachelor's degree. You have to have so many years experience. Or they have

[00:13:00] long-term requirements, like you have to take 10 plus of these different courses in order to get the certification. So basically what I want you to do is look at where you wanna be in three to five years, or maybe even 10 years at this point.

What certifications do you need? What higher education do you need? And then start with small steps. Maybe you start taking one college course instead of trying to do it all at once. Or maybe you take one of the little mini courses this year and throw that in there. But working towards that certification should just be the smaller part of your plan, especially if you are not where you wanna be in your career right now.

If you actually have larger career goals than where you currently are. So there you have it. That is your three step plan. You wanna create a budget and start saving your money on that budget. You want to take classes that are going to fill in any of your skills gaps or build your network and you want that to be 80% of your

[00:14:00] budget, and then 20% of your budget is working towards your certification. So it shouldn't be like, I can't take this, I don't know, computer class that I really need because all of my budget is going towards my college degree for my certification. That part should be the smaller part because the smaller short-term classes are gonna pay off faster in the long run, in the faster in the long run.

They're gonna pay off faster for your career to give you the time to finish the certification. In our next episode, we will be discussing another career advancement technique that your parents never told you about. So be sure to subscribe so that way you don't miss it. And also we do have a goal of increasing our reviews on the podcast.

So if you haven't done it yet, if you can leave us a review, I would greatly appreciate it. It helps other people find the podcast, but then it also lets me know how I'm doing out there. All righty. That's all

[00:15:00] I have for you today, and we will chat again soon. Bye for now. Hey, if you're just getting started in safety or you've been at this for a while and are hitting a roadblock. Then I wanna invite you to check out Safety Management Academy. This is my in-depth online course that not only teaches you the processes and strategies of an effective safety management program, but how to entwine management support and employee participation throughout your processes.

Are you ready to finally understand exactly what you should be doing and ditch that safety police hat forever? Then you have got to join me and your fellows Safety Scholars over at Safety Management Academy. Just go to to learn more and to get started. That's and I will [00:16:00] see you in our next students only live session.

Bye for now.

Highlights From This Episode:

  • Why Continuing Education Is Important In Safety Career
  • What Factors To Consider When Planning The Continuing Education
  • How To Choose The Highest Value Training Needed For Safety Professionals
  • Where To Get The Best Education To Improve Safety Profession


In the next episode we will be discussing another career advancing technique that your parents never told you about. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it.

Also, we have a goal of increasing the reviews on this podcast. If you haven’t done one yet, please consider leaving a review and sharing your thoughts about The Safety Geek podcast. I will really appreciate it and don’t forget to share this with your Safety BFF’s.

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Hi, I'm Brye (rhymes with sky)!  I am a self-proclaimed safety geek with two decades of general industry safety experience.  Specializing in bringing safety programs to a world-class level and building a safety culture, I have trained and coached many safety managers, just like you, on how to effectively manage workplace safety in the real world.   I would love to help you too.

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