How to Become a Construction Site Safety Manager

Find out how to become a construction site safety manager. Research the training requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in construction site safety management.

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Do I Want to Be a Construction Site Safety Manager?

A construction site safety manager is an occupational health and safety specialist who designs and implements safety regulations to minimize injuries and accidents on construction sites. He or she also might conduct daily safety audits and inspections to ensure compliance with government regulations. This is not typically an entry-level position, and individuals will generally need some years of experience working in occupational safety before they can advance to this level. These safety managers often split their time between offices and construction sites, and they may be required to work irregular hours during emergencies. The job holds the potential for injury, particularly during fieldwork.

Job Requirements

Construction site safety managers typically need a bachelor's degree to get started in the field. The following table contains some common requirements for becoming a construction site safety manager:

Common Requirements
Degree Level Bachelor's degree typically preferred*
Degree Fields Construction management, occupational health and safety, engineering, or a related field**
Experience 5-7 years of experience**
Certification Some employers require certification**
Key Skills Management, communication, and construction skills***
Computer Skills Microsoft Word and Excel, safety database software, and compliance software***
Technical Skills Training, construction, and safety program management experience**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Monster.com job postings (February 2013), ***O*Net

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Employers of construction site safety managers often look for job candidates who have a bachelor's degree in a field like construction management or engineering. Courses in a 4-year program in construction management might cover blueprint reading, construction materials and methods, construction safety, quality assurance, and use of various types of construction equipment. Students also are likely to take classes meant to build their communication and management skills.

Prospective construction site safety managers also might consider a bachelor's degree program in occupational health and safety. These programs typically address areas like inspection, safety, laws, legislation, and program management. Advanced topics might include workers' compensation, industrial hygiene, and safety training.

Success Tips:

  • Become fluent in Spanish. Some employers require that construction site safety managers are able to speak both English and Spanish so those managers can communicate with and train employees for whom Spanish is the primary language. Construction management students might have the option to take Spanish classes as electives or to minor or even double major in this language.
  • Earn CPR/first aid certification. Some employers also seek construction site safety managers who are certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid. Certification courses often are available through postsecondary institutions, community centers, churches, health care facilities, and chapters of the American Red Cross.

Step 2: Find an Entry-Level Job

Most positions in construction safety management require experience in the construction field, as well as knowledge of safety programs. An entry-level position in construction can provide needed experience with aerial platforms, boom and scissor lifts, cranes, riggings, and scaffolds. Entry-level workers also might receive fall protection and hazardous materials training.

Step 3: Become Certified

The Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) designates qualified construction site safety managers as Certified Safety Professionals (CSPs). Education requirements include a bachelor's degree in any field or an associate's degree in safety, health, or the environment. Experience requirements include three years' professional safety work. Candidates also must pass two certification exams: one in safety fundamentals and one in comprehensive practice.

The BCSP recertifies CSPs every five years based on a point system. CSPs can accrue points by completing BCSP-approved courses, becoming members of safety organizations, volunteering, and attending conferences.

Step 4: Become an OSHA-Authorized Trainer

Employers often seek construction site safety managers who have earned authorization from OSHA to teach construction safety programs to other employees. To qualify for the Authorized Construction Trainer Card, construction site safety managers must have a minimum of five years of experience in construction safety or at least three years' experience in combination with a degree in occupational health and safety or certification as a CSP or Certified Industrial Hygienist. He or she also must successfully complete two OSHA trainer courses.

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