How to Obtain Your Environmental Certifications

What is an environmental certification? An environmental certification is a form of environmental regulation and development in which a company can voluntarily choose to comply with processes or objectives set forth by the certification service. There are two types of certification often talked about when it comes to environmental certification: Professional certification and business certification. Professional certification is acquired when an individual with the organization chooses to take a certificate course and becomes certified in specific actions. Business certification is acquired when the business as a whole decides to do so.

Individuals might go to Coursera, take free online courses, or otherwise acquire sustainability certifications or environmental professional certifications in order to get environmental science jobs. These certifications mean that the individual has studied the standards of these certification courses and will be able to implement their ideas. Meanwhile, a business might get something like a LEED Certification to show that they are compliant with these standards. Showing compliance with environmental health and safety standards has a number of benefits: improving the organization’s reputation, getting the organization tax breaks and benefits, and committing the organization to better work.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification provides verification that an organization’s buildings or campuses are cost-effective and energy-efficient, and can be invaluable if the organization is wanting to show that it’s actively working toward a greener future.

Certifications for environmental health, occupational health, and safety can be acquired through OSHA. OSHA is the leading body for workplace safety in the United States and also offers a number of certifications. These certifications can be used for career development, to brush up on skills and compliance, and to learn about new regulations and standards.

Entry Level Environmental Certifications

What are some entry level environmental certification programs? There are a number of environmental certifications online; in fact, some of the most recognized environmental certifications can be acquired through an online test. Environmental science certifications will produce a certified environmental specialist, which is often better for the organization they work for, and better for the individual in terms of career advancement. Certifications can be acquired from OSHA, LEED, or other organizations, and can help a business get certifications such as Green Business Bureau certifications.

The Environmental Professional In-Training program is an excellent entry-level certification for environmental students and environmental professionals who are just beginning their careers. With all other things equal, a certification can be a “tie breaker” between candidates for an environmental position, as it shows that the individual is taking action to learn more past their degree. The Environmental Professional In-Training program is also an optional first step towards obtaining Qualified Environmental Professional Status. Individuals with these certifications may also receive larger salaries because they have put more effort and time into their personal development.

Companies may be looking for certain types of certifications. The Green Business Bureau, for instance, is a trusted authority in green business, green initiatives, and sustainable business practices. In the areas of Environmental Health and Safety, some companies may be looking primarily for those who are certified in OSHA safety and workplace hazards. Or they might be looking for someone who is certified in sustainable business. Thus, environmental professionals who are beginning their careers can ask themselves whether they want to focus on a certain area during their career.

Certifications are usually not difficult to sit for but can take a lot of study. Most of the tests will take a few hours of time and be several hundred dollars in cost. For those who are already employees with a company, their employers will usually pay for the certifications themselves. Entry level environmental certifications are an excellent jumpstart for those who are just beginning their Environmental Health and Safety career, and the more advanced certification paths are a good way for an employee to continue to develop their career and obtain higher salaries. Many of the higher levels of certification require an entry-level certification to get started.

Green Product Certification

Professionals and businesses aren’t the only ones to get certified. Products may need to get certified, too. A Greener Product Certification Seal, for instance, demonstrates that a product has been evaluated against LEED and NAHB green building standards. Having these types of certifications for an organization and its products is a step toward ensuring that the organization itself meets its sustainability and environmental responsibility commitments. These types of certifications can’t be acquired through free environmental courses online; they need to be completed by inspection of the product.

National Registry of Environmental Professionals

The National Registry of Environmental Professionals is an organization that helps Environmental Professionals get certified. To become a board certified environmental scientist, certified environmental manager, certified environmental scientist, or a certified environmental trainer, professionals may need to go through online course work and then complete an online certification exam. The National Registry of Environmental Professionals provides professional certification and certification programs to those who have the required education, training, and experience to be qualified as various environmental and safety professionals.

The NREP is not a government organization, but it is the largest accrediting organization within environmental professionals services. It is recognized by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Certifications for environmental professionals can be acquired through the National Registry of Environmental Professionals, an organization established in 1987 to ensure that environmental professionals have standardized and effective training. These certifications range from basic entry-level certifications to advanced, niche certifications, and individuals can get certified in broad fields (environmental safety) or specific fields (stormwater safety). These certifications can be taken online, along with online workshops, to improve upon an individual’s training either on their own time or on company time.

Becoming properly certified can take a professional some time. Online certifications include the Registered Environmental Manager (REM) Certification, Associate Environmental Professional, Certified Environmental Auditor, Certified Environmental Scientist, Certified Environmental and Safety Compliance Officer, and Certified Environmental Stormwater Compliance Professional. As there is no limit to the number of certifications an individual can get, many professionals can benefit from getting as many as are relevant to their position. Environmental Certifications are useful not only for the professionals themselves but also for the organizations, as organizations can say that their environmental professionals are certified up to specific standards.

Many individuals will start with the AEP: Associate Environmental Professional. This certification is an entry-level program for professionals beginning their careers, as well as those professionals who may not possess a college degree. AEP certification is for those wishing to pursue a career in environmental management. The exam covers pollution prevention, emergency preparedness, hazardous materials management, chemistry, toxicology, and environmental regulations. The test questions themselves are randomized, and ensure competency in explaining environmental regulations, examining and evaluating possible risks, and understanding local, federal, and international environmental law.

Certified Environmental and Safety Compliance Officer

What does it take to become a certified environmental and safety compliance officer (CESCO)? Depending on focus, there’s a wide breadth of certified environmental specialist training. Professionals that become a certified environmental and safety compliance officer understand the basic and most significant laws and regulations pertaining to air, water, waste water pollution, solid/hazardous wastes and safety. An environmental and safety compliance officer can investigate green certification standards, take classes and workshops, and procure personal sustainability certifications. All these acts will help them learn more about managing environmental and safety compliance with their organization.

For individuals, becoming an environmental and safety compliance officer, with the right certifications, can ultimately lead to both job advancement and increased salaries. For employers, it’s generally in the organization’s best interest to have certified professionals managing such critical elements of environmental health and safety. Not only does it show that the organization is committed to maintaining its safety and environmental health, but it can be used to reduce the cost of insurance, and it may be required for other elements of compliance.

Certified Environmental Professional Courses

Let’s take a look at some of the certified environmental professional courses that individuals might take if they’re interested in certified environmental specialist jobs. Certifications can help an individual differentiate themselves from other job applicants and candidates, while also providing them with focus.

Here are some of the top sustainability certifications for professionals and social sustainability certifications available:

  • Certified Environmental Specialist Training. This online OSHA course is intended for environmental professionals interested in improving their environmental compliance. Once finished, an environmental specialist will be aware of major laws and regulations, the Clean Air Act (CAA), Clean Water Act (CWA), Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Emergency Planning & Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or “Superfund”) and environmental compliance planning and expectations.
  • Certified Environmental Professional Program. The National Associate of Environmental Professionals provides a CEP certification. Applicants must have both a Bachelor’s Degree and at least nine years of applicable professional environmental experience. Five of those nine years have to be in direct charge and supervision. This certification test is ideal for existing professionals who want to advance their current careers.
  • Registered Environmental Manager certification. The REM certificate includes environmental auditing, hazardous materials management and transportation, and environmental real estate assessment. The REM certification is acknowledged by the U.S. Postal Service, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Air Force. A Bachelor’s Degree is required in an environmentally-related field, and five years of work experience. Alternatively, candidates with no degree but twelve years of work experience may also apply.

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