Have you ever heard of the magical world of safety management? It’s like a unicorn profession that not many people know about. You might be wondering, what exactly is safety management, and why is it a unicorn in the job market? Well, let me take you on a journey to discover why safety management can be your ticket to job security and success.

What is Safety Management?

Safety management is all about making sure people stay safe at work. It involves creating and implementing safety programs, training employees on how to stay safe, conducting inspections to identify hazards, and investigating accidents to prevent them from happening again. In a nutshell, safety managers ensure that everyone goes home safe at the end of the day.

But here’s the exciting part: you don’t need a fancy degree or special training to get into safety management. Most people stumble into this profession, either through promotions or added safety-related tasks. You learn on the job and can quickly climb the ladder without a college degree. It’s like a secret club that’s open to anyone who’s willing to learn and work hard.

Job Security in Safety Management

Now, you might be wondering, what about job security? In the world of safety management, job security is as reliable as a unicorn’s presence in a fairy tale. Here’s why:

  1. Higher Starting Pay: If you’re promoted into safety, you’ll likely start with a higher salary than many entry-level positions. Safety professionals are in demand, and companies are willing to pay for your expertise.
  2. Fast Career Growth: Once you become a safety expert and build a braggable track record of results, your income can quickly skyrocket. Many experienced safety managers earn six-figure incomes.
  3. No Degree Required (at First): You don’t need a college degree to start your safety career. While it’s beneficial in the long run, you can get far without it by learning on the job and building a network.
  4. Transferable Skills: Safety management equips you with a versatile skill set. You learn to work with people, market safety programs, write policies, and create reports that tell a safety story. These skills make you marketable in various roles and industries.
  5. Lateral Moves: Safety managers can easily transition into other departments or industries due to their broad understanding of business operations. This lateral movement often leads to higher salaries and career growth.

How to Make the Most of Your Unicorn Job

If you’ve been handed the unicorn of safety management, here are some tips to maximize your success and job security:

  1. Invest in Your Education: Don’t rely solely on your employer for training. Invest in your continuing education, attend seminars, and take online courses to enhance your skills.
  2. Build a Braggable Track Record: Keep track of your achievements and results. Highlight how you’ve improved safety, money saved, or increased compliance. This data is your key to career advancement.
  3. Don’t Stay in Your Lane: Collaborate with other departments and offer help where needed. Understand their goals, and show how safety can contribute to their success.
  4. Keep Learning: Expand your knowledge beyond safety. Learn about communication, negotiation, leadership, and more. Well-rounded skills make you a valuable asset to any company.

The Key to Unlocking Your Career Potential

Here’s the golden rule for ensuring a successful and secure career in safety management: don’t stay with one employer for too long. While loyalty is essential, staying too long at a company that undervalues your position will hold you back. Start looking for new opportunities every 3-5 years to ensure your salary keeps growing.

Remember, your unicorn job in safety management can lead to a world of opportunities and job security. So keep learning, keep growing, and be ready to leap into new adventures as you continue to climb the career ladder in this magical profession.

Take Action

Now that you know the secret to job security in safety management, it’s time to embrace the unicorn profession and let your career shine as brightly as a unicorn’s horn. Good luck on your journey to success!

Safety Management: A Unicorn Profession for Job Security

[00:00:00] Safety management is one of the few professions you can get into that gives you the skills and the knowledge to excel at almost any other profession within your company. In my opinion, it's a unicorn. Not that many people know about this as a profession. Think about it. How many people have you told that you work in safety?

And then you have to explain what you do. You don't need any special training or skills. Most people learn it on the go, they teach themselves and most people are promoted into it. And you can make a six plus figure income without a college degree. And it also gives you the skills to move laterally within your company or into other departments.

So why is this career a unicorn? Let me tell you. Hey there safety friends. Welcome to The Safety Geek Podcast. I'm Brye

[00:01:00] 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 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.

Most people who come into this profession had it fall into their lap, myself included. It is either through promotion, through forced responsibility where they just kind of give it to you and say, you get to do it. Or maybe you just have a few added tasks that are

[00:02:00] safety related. But very few people actually start out going, I want to be a safety manager and they go to college for safety.

And then they end up graduating and then getting a job in safety. Most of the time is the other way around. You're starting out because you got promoted into it and then you end up doing the college degree later, which we will talk about in just a second. So then what happens is that once you get into this profession, you either love it or you hate it, right?

And if you fall in love with it, then you start to see it as a career. And then maybe you see like, oh my gosh, my entire life I've been in safety, which is my case. I was a safety person well before I knew that it was a profession. Now, the starting pay for somebody who is promoted into safety is generally higher than A supervisor or most other jobs that you will find around like you do a search on Indeed, you could typically make more money working in

[00:03:00] safety than you can in a lot of those jobs, so another reason why it is a unicorn. Now, once you know the job, once you know how to do it, and you know how to do it really well, and you start treating it like a career, you can quickly move up into that higher pay scale. So my students in Safety Management Academy, their average starting salaries, or their average salaries are anywhere from 75, 000 to 90, 000 if they have less than five years experience.

And many of them make over $100, 000 a year once they've been at it for 10 to 20 years. Now, there are ways that you can shortcut that and maybe make that six figure mark within five years, without a college degree, but that is not what this episode is about. But this is why I call it a unicorn because it is just one of those professions that so few people know about.

You can actually make that high level salary without a college degree. Now, I'm not saying you don't ever need a college degree because at some

[00:04:00] point it is going to stop you. But if you are the like anti higher education type person, like you just don't want to go to college or maybe academics is not your thing, or maybe you are of an age because maybe this isn't your first career, maybe it's your second.

And you're of an age where going back to college, you're not going to see that return on investment. My point is, is that you don't need the college degree to get pretty high up within this profession. And that is rare. Most other professional jobs out there, you end up having to have like some sort of certification or degree or something in order to actually do the job.

So this is what I try to warn everybody about. There will come a point that. You not having your degree will stop your career growth. So I tell people, like, learn how to do the job really, really well and build your network and then maybe just work on that degree on the back end, right? Like 1 course a semester or 2 courses a semester. But if you have a really strong network

[00:05:00] and you really know how to do the job and have that braggable track record of results, you can easily go pretty far within this career without that college degree. It's unicorn. So another unicorn part about this job that makes it so amazing is all the skills you gain because to be a safety manager and to manage and run a safety program.

You need to know how to train people. You need to know how to make training programs and do inspections. And make sure that corrective actions are being followed through on and that all accidents are investigated and all of these things can be learned, right? All the skills can be learned. But as you're doing the job, you're learning all of these skills.

You're learning to work with employees and work with management. You're learning how to market your safety program. You're learning how to write your safety policies, your procedures, your JHAs. You're learning how to create reports that actually tell the story of safety for your workers.

[00:06:00] And you learn to justify your initiatives to create that business case for safety or to create that return on investment.

And there's so many more skills that you gain being a safety manager. So as you have all of these skills, you have really beefed up your resume. In fact, I was just talking to somebody about my resume and they're like, Oh my gosh, you're qualified to do almost anything. And it is true because safety gives you all of those skills to where

you are more marketable in the job market. Like it is so easy for you to take these skills and safety and transfer it into whatever is currently being hired for. Because 1 of the things that I have noticed in my 25 plus years. Is that safety is the last department to be added to a company and safety is also the first department to be removed from a company.

So once they see that they're having safety issues and a lot of claims and injuries, they'll hire the safety person. But when money gets tight and the economy is bad or anything like

[00:07:00] that, safety is 1 of the 1st positions that they will let go of the management team as well. So it's really important for you to build

up the skills, so that way if you ever find yourself in that position, you can easily move into another safety job. Yes. But maybe something else that is more lucrative or maybe fits your personality, your environment, where you live better, right? So you can easily go work as an operations manager or an administrator or a sales person, or

you know, in HR, there's lots of things that you can do when you have all of these skills in safety. And in fact, this is another reason why I call it a unicorn position is that it's very easy for a safety manager to move into operations to make that lateral move within a company or into another company, because we as safety people need to know all the areas of

[00:08:00] the business. So it makes it easy for us to just like slide into an operations role, which is actually generates a higher annual salary. But when a safety person moves into operations, they excel, they are so good at what they do because they have all these skills built up in safety and they have an understanding of how everything plays together to make the department work better because safety is one of the only departments in the organization that touches every other department.

So similar to H.R. similar to finance, but different than other areas, right? So, like, H.R. and finance, they touch all departments as well. But safety is part of everything that we do within a company. So, whether it is the construction worker, who's building the house or the skyscraper, they have to be concerned with safety. But the customer service rep who's answering the telephone, they also have to be concerned with safety. It's

[00:09:00] a different kind of safety, but it's still safety. The CDL driver needs to be concerned with safety, but then so does the salesperson. Right? So safety is one of those departments that we influence

all the other departments. So this gives you a keen understanding of the overall business and how all the pieces work together. I kind of like picture it as gears moving, right? And that the operations team sees their piece and the quality people see their piece and the distribution people see their piece.

And yeah, the CEO sees all of it. And the salespeople, they see the products, right? But nobody really sees all of it. Other than maybe you and the CEO and maybe finance, maybe HR, because their work oversees everything in the organization. So, because safety touches all of these parts of the business, it makes you gain these very valuable business

[00:10:00] skills, which once again makes you more marketable on the job market. So making it that unicorn job. And I always picture like, here is this person who's working in a warehouse or is like a construction worker or is maybe working on an oil rig and they know they need a safety person at that company. So what do they do? They go, Hey, Joe, you're now in charge of safety. Right?

And he might be thinking, okay, what do I do? Or shoot, I don't want to be in charge of safety, but you were just handed a unicorn. You were just handed something that can take you from that hourly worker up to like a six figure income in less than five years. All you do is need to learn how to do the job and do it well and start building a network

basically. So you might not be feeling this. You might not be feeling like my office right here is not unicorns and rainbows, Brye. My office, I am

[00:11:00] treated more like a troll and I get that. I've been there too. So I wanted to kind of give you some tips. So that way, if you've been handed this role, what can you do to make the most out of this unicorn and make sure that it's sparkles like it should.

All right, so 1st, get really, really good at what you do, invest in your own continuing education. The one thing that holds people back is that they will only go to classes and trainings that their boss will pay for. And when you were first handed the role, the boss is typically going to pay for like your 30 hour course, and maybe a few specialized courses.

Right. But then that's leaving you trapped. It's leaving you just with whatever they pay for. Personally, in my experience and the experience of people I've worked with is that their salary skyrocketed. Skyrocketed once they made a career plan. And they started paying for their own continuing education. So when you see those webinars come over in the emails, I know I see them myself all the time,

[00:12:00] like $89 webinar. If it's a skill, you need to learn, then invest in yourself, go to the seminars, go to the conferences, take the online courses. Do Safety Management Academy. Shameless plug there. You're welcome to join Safety Management Academy and I'll put a link in the show notes.

But really get good at the job. The whole idea is to really know your stuff. So that way you are more valuable in that job market. Number two is building up a braggable track record of results. So you want to make sure that with everything you're doing in safety, you're collecting what the benchmark was.

Where were you in this area? Like, what were the accident rates or the injury rates? What was the compliance rates over the costs before you made a change and what was it afterwards? So you can then go to your boss for a raise and say, look at all this money I've saved you or go to another company and be interviewed and say, this is everything I've done for another company. And I can now do it for your company. And

[00:13:00] third, I would say don't stay in your lane. So a lot of people in safety, they just feel like my job is safety. I'm just staying in safety. I'm not going to mess with quality. I'm not going to mess with operations. I'm not going to mess. I'm not going to mess with whatever.

What I'm saying is, don't stay in your lane. You want to insert yourself into all the other departments. So really get to know what their goals are, what you can do to help, and how your work affects their goals. So you want to just go, go to them, say, hey, do you need any help with anything? I literally used to do credits and accounting for our finance department.

And when the recession hit, this is back in 2008 when the recession hit, I did not get laid off because half my job was doing accounting and it was laying off somebody who worked in accounting as well as safety. So sometimes doing those extra little tasks, although it may not be part of our job, but going, okay, I can help a little bit with this. It gives you a better understanding of the business, but then it does

[00:14:00] secure you with some job security as well. But more importantly, you really want to get to know how all the other departments work and how they measure success. So that way, when you're building your business cases. You can see the impact that you're having.

And lastly, just keep learning. And I don't mean just learning about safety, learn about communication, learn about negotiations, learn about leadership, learn about coaching, learn about everything you can that would make you a well rounded manager and executive, because that's where you want to get to in the future.

That's where this career can take you. But If you just sit back and you're just waiting for somebody to say, hey, I'll pay for you to take a communications course, you're never going to get there. So plan your continuing education, know where your skills are lacking, and then make sure you're learning on those skills.

It could be buying a book at the library and reading about it. It could be taking online courses. It could be like,

[00:15:00] Hey, I'm going to invest, you know, $100 a month into my continuing education. Because in the long run, it will pay off for you in, in troves. All right. So that's what I have for you guys this week.

I do want to end with one little piece of advice, which to me is the most important piece that I wish I could convey to everybody and when I talk to people, I just want to sometimes shake them and be like, it's time for you to go. But the most important thing I want you to consider is that and if you truly want to move up in your career, if you are not in your dream job right now, if you are not like you don't go into the office thrilled to go into the office and if you're still thinking you're underpaid or you're just like, they don't treat me right.

I don't get the support that I need. Unless you are in your dream job then, and you want to move up in your career, then what I want to share with you is that you don't stay with one employer for too long that company who promoted you into safety. You might think that you owe them something that you

[00:16:00] have some loyalty to them because they gave you this safety job and handed you this unicorn. You might. For a couple of years, 2 to 3 years, right? Oh, actually I say 3 to 5. So 3 to 5 years, you stay at one company and then you move on. Because that company who actually, because they promoted you into it, they were cheaping out, right? Because to hire somebody from the outside and bring them in would have cost them 90, 000 plus.

They cheaped out by promoting you into it, right? They're never going to pay you what you're worth. Because they didn't value the position to begin with. So it's always going to be a fight to get them to value that position. So learn what you can from the company you're at. Get everything you can out of it.

And after 3 years, start looking for a new company to work for. And you do this over and over again, because when you make those jumps, it gives you an increase in your salary. So, you know, waiting around for that salary growth or

[00:17:00] them to finally recognize you or to give you that promotion, it's called sunk cost. Like, you feel like, well, I've been here for so long. They're eventually going to give it to me. That's not necessarily the case. In fact, in my experience, I have seen them hire from the outside over and over again over promoting internally when there is an issue. So when you are making that change, let's say it's been three years and you're going to go out and you're going to go into the job market.

I want you to stretch yourself and start learning, you know, maybe apply for things that aren't necessarily in the same industry. So you, you might like go into a different industry or learn something new or anything like that. So that way your resume, think about it five years from now, your resume doesn't just have one company in one industry.

Five years from now, I might have two companies and two different industries. And the next employer looks at it as like, Oh, this is a really, you know, built up resume. They got experience all over the place. They're valuable for me to have. And it allows you to make that next jump. So

[00:18:00] anyway, welcome to this unicorn of a profession. I know we're happy to have you. I love it. I've been doing it. Gosh, since I was 20 something, too long, but I hope this helps you. And if you have any questions, pop them in the comments and I will see you in the next one. Bye for now.

Highlights From This Episode:

  • The Fascinating Field of Safety Management: Unveiling the Unicorn Profession
  • Safety Management: Your Ticket to Job Security and Success
  • Transitioning from Novice to Expert: Navigating the Skillful Journey of Safety Management
  • Safety Management Secrets: How to Thrive and Grow in Your Career
  • Job Security in Safety: Your Guide to a Six-Figure Career Adventure
  • Unicorn Wisdom for Safety Managers: Tips to Maximize Success and Growth

Links Mentioned:


It’s time to put your newly acquired knowledge into practice and influence your career path.

Your professional journey never stops. Seize every opportunity, learn from every challenge, and let your professional journey shine as brightly as you envision. The power to shape your future is in your hands.

Please leave a comment below with your ideas, goals, or the actions you intend to take. Let’s support one another on this journey and celebrate our successes together!

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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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