Certification has its privileges!
As a safety professional or safety technician, you have many options and choices when it comes to your career path. Only you can make the choice to pursue a safety certification. Obtaining a BCRSP certification will set you apart from others in your field and will have a measurable impact on your career. BCRSP certified individuals receive the best opportunities for career advancement and are sought for their expertise.
What is Certification?
"Certification is a voluntary process by which a non-governmental entity grants a time–limited recognition and use of a credential to an individual after verifying that he or she has met predetermined and standardized criteria." (Source: 2005 Institute for Credentialing Excellence Guide)
Why does Certification Matter?
The purpose of certification is to recognize those individuals who meet established knowledge, skills, or competencies. Many employers and government organizations rely on the certification process to select employees or award contracts. Accredited peer certification programs set standards and evaluate people against the standards. The standards include minimum requirements for education/training and experience and demonstrated knowledge and skill through examinations. The purpose of certification in the occupational health and safety (OHS) field is to promote excellence and professionalism.
Value of Certification
In 2011 BCRSP conducted research on the Perceived Value of Certification. This research indicated that achieving a BCRSP certification was:
- An indication of professional growth,
- Enhanced professional credibility,
- Provided evidence of professional commitment,
- Enhanced employability and mobility, and
- Increased earning potential
Quality standards for certification programs include fairness to candidates, valid and reliable examinations, high quality questions, passing scores, security of examination materials, open governance and financial practices, and re-certification. In evaluating certification programs, consider the following quality measures:
- Fairness to Candidates. This includes non-discrimination in applications and testing admission. It also means eligibility is independent of memberships in organizations.
- Valid and Reliable Examinations. A valid examination is one which follows acceptable procedures to identify what subjects should be included on the examination. Certification examinations should cover only those subjects which are relevant, important or critical in the practice for which the certification is issued. The acceptable procedures use job analysis and validation surveys to define the examination blueprint.
- High Quality Questions. Writing questions for a certification examination is a complicated process. Generally, those in practice are a major source of draft examination questions. Then, the questions go through a sequence of edits. In multiple choice questions, all choices must be valid and the questions must have a recognized reference for the correct answer. Every question has to contribute to the examination goal of deciding whether a candidate has the minimum knowledge and skill applicable to the practice covered by the certification.
- Passing Scores. Passing scores on certification examinations must be fair for all candidates. Certification examination scores are pass-fail scores. The goal is to determine whether a candidate meets a minimum level of competence as determined by the passing score. Certification examinations cannot use arbitrary (academic-style) or normative (achievement test-style) scoring methods, because they do not ensure all candidates have an equal chance to pass the examination. A common procedure used to set the passing score for certification examinations is the Angoff Method. Each member of a panel of experts rates each question on the examination in terms of what portion of the candidates who are just good enough to practice in the area covered by the examination will know the answer. This process weights such things as difficulty and universal application in various job settings. The rater will expect fewer candidates to get difficult questions right and many to answer the easy questions correctly. A mean across all questions and all raters determines the passing score.
- Security of Examination Materials. Proper security of examination materials, whether questions are in draft form, included on an examination, on paper or in electronic format, is critical to the credibility of a certification. Compromise of examination security can destroy the value of the certification.
- Open Governance and Financial Reports. Open governance ensures those controlling qualifications, examinations, and candidate evaluations represent those in practice. Open governance includes public representation and the impact of the practice for the public (such as a public member being represented on the Board, or other key committees). Open financial practices ensure there is a clear accounting of fees, income and expenditures, so individuals involved with the certification are not benefiting personally and the certification has sufficient resources to exist. Reserve funds are needed to carry the cost of periodic validation studies and to keep up with and invest in technology needed for administration.
- Recertification. The objective is to ensure that certificants keep up with the practice through continuing education and related activities. Accreditation standards typically require certificants to recertify at least every five years.
For more information on the development of OHS certification programs, click here.