The Value of Certification

Getting Certified in a Down Economy: Could it Create an Upturn in Your Career?

We hear it every day. In the news we see reports of more layoffs, increasing unemployment rates and other worrisome economic turmoil. Often, in difficult economic times, professionals return to school to finish college or acquire a higher degree. Some even decide to change careers. However, 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 two certifications: the Certified Laser Safety Officer (CLSO) and the Certified Medical Laser Safety Officer (CMLSO).

Why should you become certified right now in a down economy?

Improve Competitive Advantage

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.”

Increase Job Security

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.

Enhance Opportunity for Advancement and Earnings

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.

Comply with OSHA’s Regulations

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/CMLSO 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/CMLSO 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 or CMLSO may provide a higher level of job security, even in a down economy.

Becoming a CMLSO May Improve the Health of Your Career

Although the medical field has not been impacted as severely by the economy as some other industries, many health care facilities are tightening their budgets and evaluating key staff members. Becoming a Certified Medical Laser Safety Officer may help you secure that spot as a key staff member. After all, ANSI Z136.3-2005 Safe Use of Lasers in Health Care Facilities states that ahealth care facility shall establish and maintain an adequate safety program for the control of laser hazards.” It assigns the authority and responsibility for the supervision of evaluation and control of laser hazards to a laser safety officer.

In addition to enhancing overall job security, the MLSO certification process has many intrinsic rewards for the medical professional. As the medical industry continues to grow at a fast pace, becoming certified will enable you to keep your knowledge of laser safety up to date and increase both competency and confidence when administering a laser safety program. Patient safety is paramount and as a CMLSO, you will be recognized for upholding the highest standard of laser safety.

Certification is Quick and Cost Effective

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 or CMLSO 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 www.lasersafety.org.