Unknowingly, we might be holding on to some thoughts and beliefs that are holding us back from moving forward in our job in safety. And sometimes, when these thoughts and beliefs linger in our minds for too long, we slowly believe them to be true.
To help you avoid these pitfalls, we will bust 4 common myths that hold you back from reaching the full potential of your career. Let’s get into it!
Myth #1 – You Can’t Move Up Your Job In Safety Because Of Location Constraints
This is a myth because there are many ways and options available to safety professionals to move up even if there are location constraints.
You can consider looking for work in the closest towns or cities even if it means commuting to work as long as it pays more than your previous job.
Another option is working remotely as a consultant or policy writer for your clients. There are a lot of opportunities out there, and you have to be patient and creative in finding them.
Myth #2 – You Need To Have A Degree In Safety In Order To Progress Your Career
This can be considered a myth because you can definitely move up in your safety career even when you don’t have a degree in safety. You just need to build up work experience to get high up on the career ladder. As an example, I reached a regional position level even without a degree.
However, I still hit a glass ceiling where I needed a degree to breakthrough. But college isn’t for everyone, so carefully consider what you want and if you have time to get a return on the educational investment you’ve made.
Myth #3 – I Don’t Have Enough Experience To Move Up My Job In Safety
This is a myth because growth only happens once you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone. So, don’t let it hold you back from applying for a higher-paying job or a higher position. Remember that although companies list many requirements, they will not look just at your experience but also your motivation, willingness to learn, and abilities.
Also, remember that safety will always be safety in our career, no matter what industry it is. The process will still be the same. So, be confident. As long as you have the basics down, you can learn, and you will grow as a safety professional once you’ve made that move forward.
Myth #4 – Safety Is Not Supported In The Company
This is 100% a myth because they support safety. Remember that any person in the company doesn’t want anyone to get hurt or get anyone killed on the job. Even your executives because it will hurt the company’s reputation.
They care about safety, not just in the way you expect them to. So to bridge this gap, you need to influence them to care for safety the way you do. Communicate with them and be creative in influencing them.
So those are the common myths that might be holding you back. To move forward, take time to look at yourself and change your approach.
You might also need some help to move your professional career forward, so do consider taking a look at the professional development community that I’ve created called “The Safety Network”.
Myths about Safety Job
Safety Brye: [00:00:00] Are you feeling stuck in your current work situation? Like you can't move forward because you are lacking something that you think is needed or you have a personal constraint that's holding you back. Maybe you're even considering leaving safety because you don't see this as career. Today. I want to dive into these beliefs that are holding you back from the amazingness.
I don't even know if that's the word amazingness that is safety management. Let's get to it. Um,
Hey there, safety friends. Welcome to the safety geek podcast. I'm Brye Sargent CSP and 20 year safety professionals. After spending years training. The leaders across the globe for a large corporation and creating safety programs from the ground up, over and over again, I am now sharing my processes and
[00:01:00] 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 and welcome all of my safety friends. This is Brye, your number one safety geek. Now you guys know how passionate I am about what we do and how lucky I feel to be able to be doing this kind of work. And as I say, when you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. To think I was one day wishing I was a fashion designer, but I digress today.
I want to talk about our profession and what holds a lot of people back from making the
[00:02:00] most of this opportunity. Things that seem legit when they're thinking it, but they really aren't. So let's get into it. So first I want to talk about safety as a profession because all too often, when I tell people that I am a workplace safety manager, they go, oh, that's nice.
Like OSHA and stuff. I go, yeah. And they don't quite understand the job. And then when I preface it to say, like, this is an amazing career choice, because the average salary of a safety manager is $99,000 a year. According to the national safety council, they're like, what. I never heard of that. Like, to me, this is mind blowing to a lot of people to the point that I don't understand why we don't see safety in like job fairs at colleges or high schools and things like that.
Most of us end up falling into the job. And then once you're here, there are so many places that you can go
[00:03:00] with it. And the salary expectation just grows. So when I was researching this, I actually looked at the bureau of labor statistics and they currently say that there are 120,000 people in the safety management role in the United States.
And that it is growing at a rate of seven to 8% a year. And I know this is true because when I first started in safety, most businesses needed to have about 200 employees before. They were at a point where they would hire a dedicated safety professional, a safety managers, specialists. However you want to call yourself 200 employees, you know, where it stands now about 50 employees.
That if you have 50 or more employees, there is enough work. There is enough to be done for a full-time safety manager. Most employers are not going to do it until they get to about a hundred, but I'm trying to change that. I'm trying to get them to realize that you'll know if you have 50, you kind of need a full-time safety person.
You don't want to dump this work
[00:04:00] onto the HR department or somebody else. So it is growing at this exponential rate, which is just amazing. And the salary is increasing as well because several years ago, when I was doing this research, the average salary of a safety professional was about $65,000 a year.
So now them saying it's 99, or even if you go by the bureau of labor statistics, they say it's about 77. So it's still got this huge amount of like career growth. If you go to college to be certain professions, you come out of college, maybe making 35 or $40,000 a year. Like a department supervisor generally only makes about $30,000 a year, but you can promote that supervisor into safety.
And then they have the potential to make up to a hundred, 120, $150,000. So, this is one of those few jobs that when it is dumped in your lap, you can actually make it a lifelong career. And I've actually
[00:05:00] seen people go from minimum wage to the executive team just by starting to work in. So I absolutely love this career and what we do because not only do we get to be the superheroes of the workplace, you know how I love that saying that we actually get to come in and make an amazing difference.
We are the most important department because we are the only department that positively affects all the other department. Really think about that. We are the only one that has a positive impact on every single. And we build the leaders of tomorrow. So as we are putting out our safety programs and working with engaged employees, building employee committees, these are the leaders of tomorrow.
These are the people that will go from that minimum wage to the executive team. We are helping to do that. So I feel like working in safety
[00:06:00] actually gives you a job that you can be proud of. But at the end of your working life and you look back at what you've done, you can look at it. Like I actually made a difference.
I helped people stay safe. Maybe I saved somebody's life. Maybe I saved somebody's limb. Maybe I saved their children's lives by sharing safety with them. So we do work that makes a difference in the world. We are the superheroes of the workplace. But what I have found from talking to many, many safety managers is that they feel stuck.
And when I asked them why they feel stuck in their career or in their current location, or if their current employer, I'm hearing a lot of the same things. So what I want to talk about today are the myths. That may be holding you back. And I call them myths, because these things are not true. They are just
[00:07:00] thoughts that you're having, that you've had often enough that you now believe them.
And because you believe them, your brain will go out there and look for things to confirm that it is true, but it is not true. So let's talk about them. I, for that, I want to share with you number one. Is that you can't move up in your job because you need to move or you need to relocate, or you need to work in a big city.
I get this a lot. Like even when I did that professional development survey several weeks ago, one of the biggest answers was I have a location constraints. So I can't move up in my career. That is 100% not true. There are so many things that you can do without even moving. So, what you need to realize is that you can say, no, I have a location constraint.
I have to stay where I am, but there are options for you to where you can still move up in your career
[00:08:00] and stay where you are regardless of where you live. Unless of course, like you're in the middle of a desert and the closest business is the one that you're working at. And the next closest is like a five day drive or something.
I don't know, but even that's possible. And I'll share a story with you and just. But anyway, you can stay where you are. Maybe you will need to commute to another town to find a higher up position because you've exhausted all of the positions in your current town. That's 100% possible. It would probably even be worth your time and you will probably get paid more if you actually commuted to a different area, where's the closest city.
And maybe get closer to that. Personally, I commuted 89 miles for eight years every day. Well, not every day for eight years, but every day for a lot of it, then I switched to a hybrid where I was working from home a little bit and then going into the office for a little bit. But I did that for a long time because where I found the higher paying job and the higher respect
[00:09:00] job as well, ended up being at a place that I would not want to move my family to any.
So I just commuted and I absolutely loved the commute because in the morning, on my way to the job, I got to clear my head and I got to review, what am I working on today? What am I doing? And then when I got to the office, I immediately went to work. And then on my way home, you know how, when you get off work, you kind of need a little bit of downtime before you can be attacked by your family.
I had that downtime because I was commuting home and I listened to tons of audio books and podcasts, and it was just amazing. I loved that commute for the longest time. So that is one option. Another option might be to find remote work. And you might think you can't do safety remotely. I have been doing safety remotely for the last eight years.
So, yes, you can, 100% find a remote safety job. There are consultants services that need to be hired. Maybe you might
[00:10:00] have to travel in order to do that, but you don't have to move. Maybe it's 100% remote. A lot of people just need people to write policies for somebody to ask questions to. So yes, there's work out there.
You just have to be active in order to get. And here's the other story I want to tell you. I used to have this boss. He wasn't in safety, but you could totally do this in safety. He lived in St. Louis, Missouri, but worked in Florida and he would fly out from St. Louis. Every Monday. He had an apartment in Florida.
He worked in Florida and then he flew back every Friday and spent the weekend home in St. Louis. I personally would never do that, but he did that for like five or six years. So it worked for him. So don't ever say, like, I have to move in order to move up. If you want to move up, you will find a way to move up in your career.
You just have to be creative in it. And I say, don't give up on that whole. I need to live where I am
00:11:00] because family trumps work 100%. So for me, I stay in my location because this is where my family is. Plus I love where. So family will always Trump work like your work is never more important than your family.
So if that is how you are, that you say, no, I cannot leave this location. That's fine. But don't use that as a BS, excuse as to not move up in your career because you can do it. Alrighty, myth. Number two, I need to have a degree. I get this so much, like, Hey, I don't have my degree in safety, so I can't move.
Or I don't want to go back to school and I totally feel you there. I can't move up in my career. Now. I have a whole episode about getting certified in safety. And my thoughts about going back to college or what kind of degree you need. I do truly like it when people go and take the extra step and go to college and get their degree and get their
[00:12:00] certifications 100% on for that when their return on investment is there, but maybe school isn't for you.
Maybe you don't learn that way, right? Like that's a struggle for you. I have a niece who's really, really good at what she does, but if you put a test or make her go through a class, she has like a mental block with it. I went back to college after 40, and I will tell you it totally sucks. So I hear you here, but you saying to yourself, I can't move up and I'm stuck where I am, because I don't have a degree.
That's a BS excuse. Because I will tell you, I worked my way up from the very bottom of the barrel and safety all the way up to a regional position, over 39 locations at a fortune 500 company without a degree. And you might be thinking, well yeah, Brye, you did that. You know, I, when did I do that? Seven years ago, things are different now.
And that may be the case, but honestly, I've been looking at the job.
[00:13:00] And you can still get jobs without having a degree, if you have the experience. So once you have built up those years of experience and you have a proven track record, you can 100% get a job pretty high up without a degree. Now, will you hit a glass ceiling?
Yes, you will. That's what happened with. I hit a ceiling. I, no matter who I talk to, I could not move up any further within my company or even outside my company, because everyone was like, you need to have a degree. So that's why I went back. And that's why I got my certification because for me to get to a VP level, I needed to have a degree.
And now I've chosen to train you guys and I don't even want to be a VP anymore. So kind of funny how that works out. Another reason why. I think that getting a degree might not always be the answer because in the four to six years, that it takes you to get that degree. You're going to change what you want to be doing.
But anyway, back to my point, I did that and you might be thinking, well, you're special. I am nothing
[00:14:00] special. My friends, in fact, I was in a department of over 50 employees and only three of them had their safety certification and their degrees. Now granted not all 50 we're safety leaders, I would say probably about 10 to 15 of them were, but that's it.
So don't think that you can't apply for that job or you can't get hired without that degree. I say, still go for it. Someone told me once you apply, no matter what you apply, if you have at least 50% of the experience you apply, which is our myth, number three, by the way. So going back to the degree, do not let that hold you back and whether or not you choose to get a degree in safety or anything else.
My degree is not in safety, but if you choose to get that bachelor's degree and choose to get that CSP, that is 100% your decision and you have to do what's right for you and your situation and your family. And you, I suggest that
[00:15:00] you look at the. How much more will I get paid if I get this or the potential to be paid, if I get this and are there enough years in my working life left to where I will make that money back.
So that is what I suggest that you do. So that is 100% of myth and myth. Number three is I don't have enough experience. I'm not, you know, I know how to do safety here at this company, but I'm not experienced enough to go do safety at that company. Or I'm not experienced enough to do safety in that role.
Maybe you're a specialist and you don't feel experienced enough to be a manager or you're a manager and you're not experienced enough to be a director or regional. So I believe that this is 100% a myth because you get experience and confidence and competence. When you stretch yourself, when you actually go for those things that are outside your comfort
[00:16:00] zone, that is how you grow as a safety manager is how you grow as a leader and people.
When they have jobs posted, they're going to ask for a lot of experience, they're going to ask for that degree, they're going to ask you that certification. They're going to ask, do you have experience in this specific field? It does not mean that you do not apply. Because most hiring managers are going to choose based on the fit for the job and not necessarily the experience.
The whole idea is getting your foot in the door to get you to that interview. And then you can shine and show how yes, I don't have all the experience you're looking for, but I have the motivation and the ability to learn the skills that I am lacking. And I am going to serve this company or whatever it is to the best of my ability.
And I am the best person for the job because of that, because I know I'm going to have to take this action. So I'm not asking you to train me. I'm asking you to give me
[00:17:00] a shot and then I will train myself. So you can do that if you already know most of the job, which for my perspective, safety is safety.
You know how to do a hazard assessment, set up inspections, do some training and change behaviors. You can do it anywhere. I personally have never worked on like an oil rig or anything like that. I, 100% know, I can be hired as a safety manager there go work on an oil rig and within a few months have that job down, pat, because I know how to do a hazard assessment.
I know how to collaborate with employees. I know how to write SOP's and JHA's and know how to train people. And I know how to influence behaviors. It's the same at every job. So as long as you can do that, you can move up. And the difference between a specialist and a manager is mainly like you're spending more of your time actually directing the department and working with other managers.Then you are at the lower level. So like
[00:18:00] as a regional, you're working with other safety managers and you're influencing safety managers as a manager, you're influencing department managers, or supervisors as a specialist, you might be influencing more employees at that level or maybe for team leaders.
So just changes who you're influencing, but it's all the same. And if you know that you can do at least those parts of the jobs and that you have the ability to learn the skills for the other part, then your golden. Then it's just writing a resume and cover letter and having a portfolio that gets you noticed to get your foot in the door for that interview.
And then they will always choose based on the best fit for the job. They put the degree or the experience to try to weed people out because they're getting hundreds of applications. So the whole idea is to make sure that your application sticks out. You know how many people I had actually interviewed, just because their application stuck out at me, that was just like, huh,
[00:19:00] that's interesting. I wouldn't hurt to talk to them. You know? So when you have that first conversation, then you're like, something's there. It would really fit our team. Well, you know, that type of thing. So your myth is you don't have enough experience. So you need to change that and say that it doesn't matter that you don't have the experience.
You have the basics and the skills to learn what you need to learn. Alrighty, Myth number four, safety is not supported and they don't care about safety. So let's say that you're wanting to move up in your own company. Or that you've heard things about other companies that you're applying for and you just have this belief that safety is not supported.
I hear this so much. Like this is the biggest issue. When people are answering surveys for me joining my community, these types of things, safety is not supported and they don't care about safety. I can't get my management team on board. I get way too much management pushback. Of course you do, because you're already thinking it's going to be there. What the myth is is that they don't support safety. That's
[00:20:00] 100% of the. They do support safety. They 100% support safety. They're just not doing it the way that you want. That's all, there's a gap. And it's your job to influence them. Just like you, would anybody else who disagrees with you or disagrees with something that you believe in?
You know, if you believe the earth is round and they believe it's flat, you just need to convince them just like you would. Right. It's anything. Your job is not to sit there and be hounding them with regulations. Your job is to influence them how to work safely and how to see safety, the same way that you do, because they do support safety.
They are committed to safety, just not the same level that you are. They don't see the risk that you see. So you just have to get them to change their. And when you can change this myth around and you can stop
[00:21:00] thinking about it and stop believing it. And instead believe that they do support safety. It actually opens up your brain to like ideas on different ways to influence them.
Because I truly believe that there is not a single manager out there that would say, oh, it's okay. If someone falls off the roof and dies, at least we got the roof done today. Or, you know, that it's okay, that we're putting them at risk of getting hurt. The chances of it happening is really low anyway. And yeah, if it does happen, they're going to die, but that's okay.
I would never believe that a manager, supervisor, department head executive, nobody would think that even at the very, very high level, they would also be thinking, I don't want someone to die because of what is going to do for the reputation of the company. You just have to change how you're thinking about it.
It's not that they're not supporting safety. They're not supporting it in the way that you would like, so what are you going to do about it? That's what it comes down to. What are you going to do
[00:22:00] about it? And you are going to influence them to change their minds. Alrighty, my safety friends, those are the four myths that I see most when it comes to your safety career.
Now, if you are not getting calls for jobs that you're applying for. It is time to stop thinking that there is something wrong with the company or the job market or the people out there. And instead look at your approach, look at what you're doing and realize that you may need some help. And that is why I'm creating the safety network, a professional development community designed to help you move up in your career.
Now the doors to my brand new professional development community will be opening very, very soon, like within days. So make sure that you get on the wait list, go to thesafetygeek.com forward slash P D N for professional development network. And you can
[00:23:00] get on the wait list and you will be notified as soon as open. I'm super excited to get started for the first month. I've so many things planned for you guys. I've been working diligently behind the scenes, so I will see you in the safety network. Bye for now.
If you're just getting started in safety, or you've been at this for awhile and are hitting a roadblock, then I want to 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 fellow safety scholars over at safety management academy. Just go to thesafetygeek.com forward slash SMA to
[00:24:00] learn more and to get started. That's thesafetygeek.com forward slash S M A.
And I will see you in our next students only live session. Bye for now.
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Highlights From This Episode:
- What Are The 4 Myths About a Job in Safety Management?
- How To Stay Away in Thoughts and Beliefs That Holding Us Back in Our Career
- Improving To Reach Your Full Potential as a Safety Leaders
- Strategies To Become A Better Safety Managers
- Get on the waitlist for The Safety Network
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
Now that you learn the 4 myths that are holding you back to attain bigger roles in safety careers, what will be your next move? I hope that everyone will find the courage to stay away from these thoughts and beliefs. Let’s all move up in our job in safety! Share your answers in the comment below.
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.