Getting certified in a down economy

Oct. 1, 2009
Becoming certified by the Board of Laser Safety as a laser safety officer is a smart move—in any economy

Becoming certified by the Board of Laser Safety as a laser safety officer is a smart move—in any economy

For those who wish to continue to excel in their chosen profession despite a tough economy, becoming certified is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate a higher level of expertise to current and prospective employers.

For professionals working around lasers, becoming certified by the Board of Laser Safety (BLS) is one of the highest credentials a laser safety officer (LSO) can earn. BLS certification demonstrates that individuals in the laser safety field have agreed to adhere to higher standards of safety and professional practice. The BLS offers certification for the Certified Laser Safety Officer (CLSO).

Working in laser safety can be highly competitive, and becoming certified can help you stand out from other job candidates. At the same time, becoming certified adds a higher level of credibility to your “on-the-job” experience. The combination of laser safety experience and certification demonstrates to current and potential employers that you are accomplished and qualified in the field.

“BLS certification demonstrates to the public, colleagues, and employers one’s qualifications and proficiencies,” stated Barbara Sams, executive director, Board of Laser Safety. “It identifies the individual as an LSO who has achieved a specific level of knowledge and expertise, and possesses a higher level of commitment to the industry. It enhances the LSO’s credibility as the authoritative individual responsible for the facility’s laser safety program.”

Laser safety is a necessary function for many organizations, even in a down economy. As a result, becoming certified may enhance job security. If companies are considering cutting back on staff, managers may be more likely to retain certified professionals who have a specialized skill such as laser safety.

While the primary goal in our current economy is to stay employed, it is important to plan for the future, looking toward potential career advancement opportunities and increased earnings. By taking the time now to become certified, you will be ready for better opportunities that arise as the economy improves. Additionally, becoming certified gives you the opportunity to connect with other laser professionals. In a down economy, networking is more important than ever.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires employers to provide a working environment free of recognized hazards and to comply with OSHA’s regulations—regardless of the current economic conditions. This certainly pertains to laser safety because Class 3B and Class 4 lasers pose a recognized hazard. By passing the CLSO exam, a person is officially recognized as having a thorough understanding of laser safety concepts, practices, and state and federal regulations.

When an organization has a CLSO on staff, it demonstrates to OSHA that the company has high standards in place with regard to its laser safety program. Again, this is just another example of how becoming a CLSO may provide a higher level of job security, even in a down economy.

When compared to going back to college or obtaining a higher degree, becoming certified is much faster and cost-effective. The examination process to become a CLSO is relatively short, and enables you to quickly receive a recognizable and respected credential that is indicative of upholding a higher standard of laser safety.

“For the LSO, it is a personal accomplishment that demonstrates pride in our profession and augments the individual’s professional reputation,” said Sams. “It supports the desire for continued professional development, and increases opportunities for career advancement and/or increased earnings. There has never been a better time to become certified.”

For more information about the Board of Laser Safety’s certification exams, and to find out if you qualify, visit

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