What Is OSHA Certification?
Written by Joey Rosenberg
If you're seeking work in the construction industry, you've likely seen job descriptions that say OSHA 10 certification is required. It's also common for job postings to say workers must be OSHA 30 certified.
However, many people are surprised to learn that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) doesn't actually provide an OSHA 10 or OSHA 30 certification.
Don't worry though — employers aren't trying to trick you or set impossible job requirements. It's simply a common misconception about what types of training OSHA considers to be certifications.
What Does It Mean to Be OSHA Certified?
If a job requires you to be OSHA 10 or OSHA 30 certified, it often means the employer wants proof you completed an OSHA Outreach Training Program course. Graduates of this program earn a 10-hour or 30-hour OSHA completion card.
OSHA does not certify workers who complete 10- or 30-Hour OSHA Outreach training because the courses are voluntary and don't meet training requirements outlined in any OSHA standards. These standards are the rules and regulations that OSHA requires employers to follow.
According to a disclaimer on OSHA's website: "Although some states, municipalities or others may require Outreach training as a condition of employment, it is not an OSHA requirement. None of the courses within the Outreach Training Program is considered a certification."
While OSHA doesn't approve the use of phrases like "OSHA 10 certification" or "OSHA 30 certified," workers and employers often use them anyways when referring to Outreach training.
What Is Covered in OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 Training?
Outreach Training Program courses, including OSHA 10-Hour training and OSHA 30-Hour training, teach workers how to recognize and avoid common job-related hazards. The program also explains employer responsibilities, workers' rights under OSHA and how to file a complaint.
OSHA 10 is an entry-level program for workers, and the more intensive OSHA 30 program is designed for supervisors and workers with some safety responsibilities. Industry-specific Outreach courses are available, including 10- and 30- hour versions tailored to construction and general industry.
How Do I Prove I Completed OSHA 10 or 30?
Graduates of OSHA-authorized Outreach courses receive an official completion card from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The DOL card is an impressive addition to your resume, and it's an increasingly common job requirement among employers nationwide.
Employers may use other names for the Outreach completion card, including:
- OSHA 10 certification/OSHA 30 certification
- 10-Hour card
- 30-Hour card
- OSHA 10 card/OSHA 30 card
- DOL card
- OSHA DOL card
- OSHA 10 completion card/OSHA 30 completion card
If employers mention OSHA certification or any of the cards listed above, then there's a strong chance they're looking for proof you completed an OSHA Outreach course. To be certain you are properly trained, always confirm the exact training programs the employer requires or prefers job candidates to complete.
OSHA Certification vs. Certificates
Certifications and certificates may sound similar enough, but OSHA views them differently. When you complete an Outreach course such as OSHA 10 for the construction industry, you'll receive a temporary certificate of completion until your official DOL card arrives.
But earning a course certificate or DOL card is not the same as being certified.
According to the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, certification programs "recognize professionals who meet established knowledge, skills or competencies." The goal of these programs is to verify a student's mastery of an advanced topic.
OSHA Outreach training is what the institute calls an assessment-based certificate program. These programs are narrower in scope than certification programs.
For example, the OSHA 10 course aims to train students on new safety topics rather than assess their current knowledge and skills. Graduates of the course earn a certificate and DOL card when they pass an exam on key learning objectives. OSHA does not consider these credentials to be an OSHA 10 certification, and it does not consider workers who complete the program OSHA certified.
What Training Do I Need for Jobs Requiring OSHA 30 Certification?
Job listings for positions in the construction industry, general industry and other fields may say that OSHA 30 certification is required.
In most cases, employers who prefer or require this certification are looking for applicants with an official OSHA 30 card from the Department of Labor. You can earn this DOL card online after completing a 30-hour OSHA Outreach course in construction or general industry.
While OSHA clearly states that Outreach courses are not certification programs, job postings may suggest that they are.
If you're not sure which OSHA training course you need, it's always a good idea to ask for clarification. Make sure your resume lists any safety training courses you've taken that apply to the position. This includes OSHA Outreach training programs and any certificate courses in workplace safety.
Can I Add OSHA Certification to My Resume?
Even though OSHA does not consider 10- or 30-Hour Outreach training to be a certification, employers and hiring managers may look for these courses in the certifications section of your resume.
Instead of writing "OSHA certified" in your qualifications section, include the full titles of the training courses you've completed and any certificates, cards or credentials you have earned.
For example, construction workers with an OSHA 10 card can state that they completed the 10-Hour OSHA Outreach Training Course for Construction. They could also mention that they have an OSHA 10-Hour card in Construction from the U.S. Department of Labor.
OSHA Certificate Programs
OSHA certification may also refer to certificate programs that OSHA provides in partnership with colleges and universities across the country.
These programs offer in-depth professional development for safety and health professionals with years of experience. They go into much greater depth than OSHA Outreach courses, with some certificate programs ranging from 70 to 100 hours in length.
Examples of OSHA certificate programs include:
- Certified Occupational Safety Specialist (COSS)
- Certified Safety and Health Official – General Industry
- Certified Safety and Health Official – Construction
- Master Certification – Safety and Health
- Master Certification – Environmental
- Master Certification – Risk Management
- Certified Safety and Health Specialist – General Industry
- Certified Safety and Health Specialist – Construction
For more information on these certifications, view OSHA's list of certificate and degree programs.
Eastern Kentucky University. (2020). Education, Workforce Development & Community Engagement 2020 Training Schedule. Retrieved from https://osha.eku.edu/sites/osha.eku.edu/files/files/EKU%20Workforce%20Development%20Catalog%202020B.pdf
Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (n.d.). OSHA Outreach Training Program FAQs. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/training/outreach/faq
Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2019, January 1). OSHA Outreach Training Program Requirements. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/sites/default/files/OSHAOutreachTrainingProgramRequirements-2019.pdf
Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (n.a.). Outreach Training Program (OSHA 10-Hour & 30-Hour Cards). Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/training/outreach#construction
Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2015). Training Requirements in OSHA Standards. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha2254.pdf
Institute for Credentialing Excellence. (n.d.). Certificate, Certification, or Both? What's Right for You? Retrieved from https://www.credentialingexcellence.org/programdifferences